Thursday, 8 May 2014

a baker’s dozen

I will soon be going to the UK for the summer, and I thought that posting some of the thousand or so photographs that I’ve taken in Hong Kong since last October would be a worthwhile exercise. The original intention had been to select ten photos, but I couldn’t decide which three of the thirteen photos below I should leave out. I’ve already posted some photos taken during this period to illustrate other articles, but the images below are unconnected to anything posted during the period in question.

All these images have been enhanced in some way, by cropping, increasing the contrast, boosting the colour saturation and/or changing the tonal balance, and each block of text below refers to the immediately preceding photograph.

Wayside shrines are a common sight in the Hong Kong countryside, but most are more substantially built than this one, which does seem temporary. It is located opposite the road junction shown in the fourth photograph in Journey to the West: Part 3. I cannot name any of the figures.

Herons and egrets on the Kam Tin River. I deliberately tried to make this photo look like an ‘artist’s impression’ of an upmarket housing development. The low buildings closest to the opposite bank would be the most expensive, followed by the mid-rise buildings immediately behind (note the penthouse apartments). Those proles who have been persuaded that home ownership is a good idea live in the high-rise blocks to the right of the photo.

A decent sunset is a rarity in Hong Kong nowadays. The sun usually disappears into the murk 30–60 minutes before it is due to set. This photo was taken from the roof of my house, which is located a short distance to the east of Fanling.

update: 13/05/14
Torrential rain isn’t always an entirely negative event, although driving on the expressway was a nightmare earlier today. However, the rain also washed the accumulated filth from the atmosphere, resulting in a much more spectacular sunset than the one I originally posted:

This photo shows mainly lesser egrets on the bank of the Sheung Yue River (there are two grey herons and one greater egret towards the left of the lineup).

I spotted this caterpillar on a concrete post behind the Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall. If anyone can identify the species, I would appreciate their feedback.

A bronze dragon and phoenix on the top of a joss stick holder in front of the Tin Hau temple in Sai Kung. In this arrangement, the dragon represents the male principle and the phoenix the female.

This picture, taken on the Kam Tin River, shows five black-winged stilts, but the bird on the left appears to be a different species. However, if it really is a different species, why are the other five birds standing with their backs to the interloper?

I’ve found cycling along ‘the frontier road’ to be quite a surreal experience this winter, with almost unspoiled signs of nature in the foreground and a wall of modern buildings in the middle distance along the entire length of the road (this is Shenzhen, on the other side of the frontier). I had always thought that herons were solitary birds, but there are thirteen in this picture in close proximity to each other.

This is the descent from the footbridge leading to the snake path (Journey to the West: Part 4). It could also be a gateway to another dimension.

Question: are these cattle, oxen, or buffaloes? There is one that Paula and I always look out for at the head of the Shek Sheung River as we cycle home. It appears to have been left to its own devices, and although plenty of grazing is available, we more often see it wallowing in the mud in the river. Anyway, We started referring to it as a buffalo, and that’s what we still call it.

We encountered this pair mooching about in the undergrowth on the side of a relatively quiet road during the Kam Tin section of one of our ‘journeys to the west’. Initially, I assumed that they must have strayed from unfenced land behind them, but note the wall. These guys must have reached their photographed positions along the road. I’d love to have been there to see how they handled the ensuing traffic chaos. They do look friendly though.

Chinese New Year. The big bang at the top of a string of firecrackers. Say no more.

I take no credit for this one. I must have ridden past this graffito, on the side of the brick wall surrounding a Drainage Services pumping station at the confluence of the Kam Tin River with one of its main tributaries, dozens of times, admiring its simplicity but not stopping. Until I did, it had never occurred to me that it had all been done with a spray-can. I thought the anonymous artist deserved a wider audience. I wonder why he did it here though. We routinely ignore the sign that says ‘private road’, because it provides the best view down the estuary, and there is often something to photograph, but not that many people pass this way. Most use the road that bypasses the pumping station, a choice that the ‘private road’ sign obviously encourages.

This is another one from ‘the frontier road’, a large fishpond with Shenzhen looming in the background. If you look closely, you might just be able to make out the head of a cormorant (more obvious if you click the picture to enlarge it). Unlike ducks and swans, cormorants don’t sit on the water. The only parts that stick out are the head and neck, so it takes a lot more effort to get airborne, because cormorants are big birds. There were a lot around this year, both along the frontier and in the Kam Tin River. Because they have to propel such a large body out of the water and into the air, their wings slap the surface of the water up to ten times before they become fully airborne, so even one taking off is a spectacular sight. We sometimes set off several at the same time, not intentionally of course, but cormorants are so easily spooked that merely cycling past them in the water is a signal to switch on the afterburners.

That’s why I stopped to take this picture. I’d spotted it from a distance and had sneaked up on it, camera at the ready, and I thought that once it was aware of my presence, it would quickly take off, and I might get a good picture. It ignored me.


  1. It was a GOOD collection of photos reflecting the local culture, the nature and the option to enjoy them.

  2. Ah, they look like water buffalo's to me but I could be wrong. I always enjoy looking at your photos and taking in the different cultures of where you live. I'm wondering why they call it a 'snake path'? I'm sure the name is linked to dodgy meaning... of fact or event. Let me know Dennis.

    1. Sorry to disappoint you Rum, but I’m the one responsible for the name ‘snake path’, because it twists and turns here and there. It does include some dodgy sections though. I’ll continue to refer to these beasts as buffaloes until I have definitive information to the contrary.

  3. Nice water buffalo photos

    1. Thank you. Someone else who thinks they’re buffaloes.


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