Cruising into Aberdeen harbour after visiting Lamma Island was a real shock. Dozens of monolithic apartment blocks tower overhead, obscuring much of the sky from up close. I don’t even want to think about how much it costs to live here—the entire area looked like a nearly featureless cultural void. Apart from various floating restaurants it didn’t seem like there was very much to do. Even the one temple I saw had its doors shut to the public even though it was only late afternoon. I caught a bus to the other side of Hong Kong Island as soon as I could.
Prior to visiting Hong Kong 香港 for the second time I did some research into abandoned places but came up short of targets. Most of the best stuff seemed to be in the New Territories or on outlying islands; property values in Kowloon 九龍 and Central are too high for anything to remain disused for long.
It was with some luck that I discovered Bishop’s Lodge, an abandoned mansion on the north-facing slope of Victoria Peak, when I went for a hike. Away from the garish mega-malls and tourist traps that populate the high plateau just below the summit I entered a world out of time.
Here, inside the greenhouse, nothing grows. The soil is barren and the space is neat and tidy. Outside nature goes about her business, wild and untamed. No searching tendrils slip across the threshold; this place is not fit for macroscopic life without human stewardship.
I shot this on the walk back to my rented apartment from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong 香港. The golden light of afternoon graced the tips of the taller buildings in Sheung Wan 上環 with a lovely glow. Pictured here in the shadows is Man Mo Temple 文武廟, one of the very few temples I passed by in a week of exploring Hong Kong. I would have gone in to look around but it was surprisingly busy—and I was beat from the hike.
The following post is an edited version of a series of letters I sent home to friends and family in Canada while visiting Hong Kong 香港 in January 2012. They are presented here as a series of disjointed vignettes that range from the mundane to the profound.
I have arrived in Hong Kong 香港, setting foot in Asia for the first time in my life. I am now safely ensconced in the lovely little flat in the heart of Mong Kok 旺角 I rented via Airbnb. It is a nice enough place, not too expensive, and seemingly authentic, though I wouldn’t know the difference. There is no lift in the building; it is eight flights straight up the open concrete stairwell from the bustling streets with two flats on either side of every floor. Though sparsely furnished my room emanates something of the style of In The Mood For Love, one of my favourite films set in Hong Kong, and I immediately feel strangely, suspiciously at home despite being so far from it.