Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sketchpacking Hong Kong 2015 - Day 1-2

It's been over a week since I returned from Hong Kong. I haven't visited the place in probably 25 years, and have very vague recollections of how it used to be. When I last went, it was still a British colony and we landed in the legendary Kai Tak Airport, smack in the middle of the city. Now there's a spanking new airport with express trains to the city. Still, vestiges of the old city can still be found. Our trip, however, didn't cover a lot of ground. There's not a lot you can do in just 5 days, especially when you're going to sit down or stand still to sketch. And this was a sketching trip.

The idea for this trip started when my colleague, Kai Siang, came back from a family trip to HK last year. When he returned to the office, I asked him how the trip was. He said it was great, and immediately proceeded to ask me if I was interested in going there on a sketching trip. HK had been on my list for a while, so I grabbed the opportunity.

First meal at HK airport - roast goose!
Look at Kai Siang go. He's sketching already!

Unlike previous trips where I planned the itinerary meticulously, this trip had very little pre-planning. We only decided a few of places we wanted to hit such as Stanley and the Peak, and we would figure out the rest when we were there more or less. But what we lacked in itinerary, we made up in contacts. I had friends there who were more than happy to take us around sketching. Or follow us around to sketch, in Sandy's case. But more of that later.

The apartment we rented via Airbnb was at Yau Ma Tei area, near Austin MTR. It was tiny, probably 15-20 sqm, but not unusual for HKers sharing an apartment for 2. It was around $65 SGD per pax per night, also on the affordable side by HK standards. Property prices in HK are quite crazy, I hear. It makes me thankful for what I'll be paying for a 45 sqm single bedroom flat.

Our apartment from end to end. 2 bedrooms, 1 toilet. Not bad at all!
Right after checking in, we met up with Urban Sketchers HK leader, Alvin Wong. Alvin took us around for the rest of the afternoon and told us about his city. He's an architect and lived several years in Singapore too. It's very interesting to hear the perspectives from such people about their homeland and how it differs from overseas.

Alvin, Kai Siang and myself at the open air carpark level at Harbour City,
overlooking the straits to HK city from Kowloon.
We didn't have time to stop and sketch as Alvin took us around, but we met some famous people along the Avenue of Stars:

Anita Mui
Copyright © Favian Ee  Apr 2015

Leslie Cheung
Copyright © Favian Ee  Apr 2015

The Dragon
Copyright © Favian Ee  Apr 2015
Alvin took us for a walk and a bus ride around Kowloon from East Tsim Sha Tsui all the way up to Mongkok. We stopped for some famous milk and egg pudding along the way.

Hong Kong Space Museum
Copyright © Favian Ee  Apr 2015

Yee Shun Milk Company chilled milk pudding. Must try!

Yee Shun Milk Company chilled egg pudding
I actually left my whole Timbuk2 messenger bag sketch kit at Yee Shun and only realised it when we were in the art shop next door. We ran back to retrieve it. Thank God they kept it for us!

Dinner was at Coral Cafe, a semi-fast food outlet with branches everywhere. Quite decent and affordable meals!

Day 2 - Good Friday

Breakfast on day 2 was at a cha chaam teng (lit: teahouse) below our apartment. After a tasty set meal of ham and mushroom omelette and satay beef soba (my order), we were ready to meet our next guide: Sandy.

I first met Sandy in Perth 3 years ago when I saw her sketching the train station. She was working there at that time. I contacted her again when we were going to HK and she expressed interest in joining us for our sketching escapades.

Perth, 2012

Hong Kong, 2015
The deal was we would bring her sketching, and she would bring us around. She looks as good as ever! First stop, East Tsim Sha Tsui - again!

My unfinished piece, which took some 2.5 hours or so...

Show and Tell!
After this mini sketchwalk, Sandy took us on the Star Ferry to Hong Kong island to meet Noble, a member of the USK-HK group, for lunch at Crystal Jade. After lunch, we went and met Ben and other sketchers for another round of sketching at the soon-to-be-demolished Graham Market.

Star Ferry

Lunch with Noble at Crystal Jade

Graham Market. The buildings on both sides are slated
to be demolished to make way for offices and hotels.

Sketching with Urban Sketchers Hong Kong

After this, Sandy, Kai Siang, and myself rushed off to the Peak to try and catch some views of the city.

But the Peak was covered in cloud. We could barely see the city lights...

Even the nearby Peak Tower looked like something
out of Pacific Rim
Notwithstanding the fog, we still had a good time trying out a Michelin restaurant at Mak's Noodle, then dessert next door.

Even our dessert had clouds!
On the way back we spotted some familiar artwork in the MTR station:

Stella So's artwork on cards!

Continued on Part 2

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