Mid-Autumn Festival – Museum Crawling In Hong Kong

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival.  For the single guys out there, may the space rabbit grant you a ticket to moon and meet the immortal maiden, Chang’e.  As for me, I have waited long enough and have decided that someone from Earth would do.  Talking about the moon, today Cynthia and I have visited the Hong Kong Space Museum and have watched the ultra realistic space video clip called “Cosmic Collisions” at the huge dome shaped Sky Theater.  Inside this documentary clip, it is said that when Earth was at its infancy, a rock smashed onto its surface and sent billions and millions of small pieces into space.  Within a month, these small pieces consolidated into one huge rock.  That rock has become our Moon.  Incredible!  And the Moon in turn gives the Earth tidal waves.  Such a romantic notion.  Perhaps that was where Italo Calvino drew his inspiration from, when he wrote that fascinating “Cosmicomics” and a few others.

The last time I have visited the Space Museum, I was a small kid.  The museum seems to have shrunk in size as I grow bigger.  Wednesday is a good day for museum crawling in Hong Kong.  Free admission for all the museums.

We have visited the Hong Kong Museum of Art next door too.  There are ancient Chinese drawings that are painted on a thin horizontal stripe of paper that seems to extend indefinitely.  Landscape drawings with paths and stationary objects and people that lead your eyes from one end of the painting to another end.  There are vertical drawings too.  The same concept that leads our attention from the bottom to the top, which is often the mountain top and the cloud.  During our visit, there is a special exhibition of the late Wu Guanzhong.  The theme is “Lofty Integrity”.  It is eye opening to see Chinese culture incorporated into modern art.  Each painting comes with a poetic short description, which I appreciate a great deal.  The title of the painting illustrated above is “Leaving Youth Behind”, courtesy of Hong Kong Museum of Art.  The translated description is as follows.  If you come across an exhibition of Wu Guanzhong, don’t miss it.

When a tree is old, its roots are exposed.  When a lotus is old, its stalks break.  It is better to break than to submit, leaving no regrets even when youth is gone.

On a lighter note, there is an exhibition called “The Ultimate South China Travel Guide” that attempts to recreate the history of Canton after the First Opium War (1839) in an entertaining manner.  I felt as though I was transported back to that era.  There is even a phrase book that translates the “Chinese Pidgin English” (a distorted form of English frequently spoken by the locals back then).  From the obvious ones such as I no know and I no understand, to the obscure ones such as give dog chow-chow (give it to the dog) and my hap sick (I am sick).  One day, if there is a phrase book for Singlish (a distorted form of English frequently spoken by the Singaporeans I suppose?), I wonder what would people think of cannot also can?

My Dog and My Family, One Day at a Park

My Dog and His Dog Tak Tak

I wonder if any of you remember precisely what you did during the New Year Day, or on that day, what has gone into your mind.  I didn’t.  As I processed my digital mountain worth of photo backlog, the timestamp of this particular photo collection tells me that on New Year Day, my family took our lovely dog to the park.  Ma joined late, it was a cold day, and there were moments when our beautiful white dog drew attention from the fellow park visitors, unintended attention from the dogs bigger than him, smaller than him.  Pa doesn’t like our dog to get bullied by other dogs, I get it.  To the extend of over-protectively keeping our dog inside the house most of the time, I don’t get it.  But then again, I don’t keep a pet, have no clue on what it’s like, and in the rare moment, during our stay in Hong Kong for my sister’s wedding, this is a photo album of my dog and my family, one day at a park.

I understand not everyone likes to go through others’ family photo albums.  And so, I have extracted 12 photos to share at the bottom of this blog entry.  For our family and friends and readers who are more or less in touch with my family life, I have added a new high resolution photo album (59 photos) to my online collection for sharing.  Inside, you will get to see a lot of pictures of our dog, my parents, my sister Lora and her husband Benny, and Cynthia and I.  I have included mostly spontaneous shots, may not necessary be the best shot for my subjects.  Nevertheless, I know how they look at their best, at their not-so-best.  I treasure those moments that I tend to forget more.

My dog’s name is Tak Tak.  The direct Chinese translation of his name would sound strange.  So I would say, he is named after the can-do attitude.  Tak Tak is an amazing dog.  So clever in so many ways, he is a gift from Heaven for my parents who are living thousands of miles away from my sister and I in Singapore.  When he was still a puppy, before my sister’s emigration, Tak Tak had an accident, at my home in Hong Kong, and broke a leg.  The operation would cost more than getting a new dog.  It was a hard decision to make because we have a humble family income, Pa has long retired.  My family has decided to go through the pain and the expense of an operation.  Deep inside, although I don’t know Tak Tak that well, I am sure he knows that he is loved by those around him.  And I can understand the tears in his eyes whenever my parents leave home for an overseas holiday.

My Sister’s Wedding in Singapore – Thank You For Your Warm Wishes

We wrapped up the night with a group photo

It is amazing how pressure can propel us to do the seemingly impossible.  I woke up this morning barely 8 hours after I shot the last photo of the evening and my parents were already pacing around my living room hinting or rather strongly hinting that they wished to take all the photos I have shot for my sister’s wedding as they are.  As they are?!  It is hard to explain to them why they can do that for point-and-shoot photos and not for the 500 pictures I took with my dSLR camera.  I find it hard to believe that too.  It has got to be my skill, or the lack of it.

And because it breaks my heart to see my parents fly back to Hong Kong disappointed, not only have I done the necessary photo shortlisting and touch up in record time, but also have them published online with a less than 24 hours turnaround time.  I am happy with the results.  Some of the shots I really like.  I suppose Benny and Lora may have passed this blog entry to you for viewing.  Maybe you were there, maybe you couldn’t make it.  As a proud brother of Lora and a good old friend of Benny, I thank you for your warm wishes to the wedding couple.  I am pretty sure in time to come Benny and Lora will share the professionally done up photos of the event with you.  Meanwhile, here are some of the candid shots I have taken to complement the event, arranged chronologically in three albums.

PS. Stay tuned for a little write-up on how the day went.  Thank you for viewing the pictures and as always, feedback is welcome.

Delivering the Wedding Gifts the Traditional Chinese Way (過大禮 / 过大礼) … In the Modern Day

Benny, My Dad, and the Wedding Gifts

Here is the thing, I am lousy when it comes to Chinese tradition.  Maybe I shall read more Chinese literature, maybe I shall date a … or maybe I shall just talk to my parents more.

We can talk about the six Chinese wedding etiquette here.  But if you are more of a visual person, here is the link to my personal family photo album.  Yes, in this tidy home of my parents in Hong Kong we have a dog named Tak Tak.  He is smart, he is adorable, and I will share a photo album of just my dog later.  How late?  I don’t know.  I still have my photos taken in Fraser Hill unprocessed, awaiting to be published.

One day I woke up at the apartment on the 5th floor – my parents stay on the 7th floor and it is a long story that you probably can skip – and Benny (my then-brother-in-law-to-be-now-brother-in-law) was loading the 5th floor apartment with gifts.  I looked at the gifts in my wildest curiosity wondering what on the earth he was doing.  Well, according to one of the Chinese wedding etiquette, the groom’s family delivers the wedding gifts (過大禮 / 过大礼) to the bride’s family days (or weeks?!) before the actual wedding date.  In the old days, it was meant to be an elaborate event.  When the bride’s family receives the wedding gift mostly with items in pairs – plus a letter or a book itemizing the gifts (?! … lots of documentations in the old days) – another set of gifts will be returned as part of the tradition.  If you wonder why coconuts, chickens, and even a pair of shoes can be considered as wedding gifts alongside with the gold and jewelery, phonetically, these items mean only good things to the wedding couple.

In the modern day, this tradition is simplified.  As seen in the photos I have shared, I recall Benny did bring wine, fruit, cakes, abalones, and … lots of cash!  In Singapore dollar!  And my parents also returned a portion of the cash received to symbolize the tradition.  When I saw that, I was like … don’t, don’t … let me have it!

At times I wonder, what dilutes the local tradition?  I tend to look at the era of colonization with puzzlement.  One day I may write a blog entry about it.  Perhaps after this ambitious photo trip my friend Ken and I have been talking about for ages – local culture and tradition at a crossroad.

Photo Album: Family Photos in Hong Kong

Captured Moments of My Sister’s Wedding in Hong Kong (2008.12.28)

A Sample from My Personal Collection of My Sister's Wedding

Fortunately I was not the main wedding photographer.  What hard work it was!  With no control over light quality, background, and where everybody stands, I did the best I could.  And I did the best I could with my first dSLR camera that was less than 2 months old and my non-existing knowledge of Photoshop.  At times I am amused by the faith my little sister has in me.  I love my little sis.  I have been practicing hard, for this very moment.

Can’t wait to see the result?  Click here but please do come back.

I have been resisting to ‘photoshop’ my pictures for a long time until now.  Simply because I’d like to show the world what I can possibly do with my camera and my camera only.  Here is an analogy for you.  Showing you what could have done with my camera (to the point of no cropping) is like performing my music live to you.  The artwork is not perfect, it has its flaws, but (I hope) it has its charm, a sense of genuineness.

Most professionals do some forms of post production work on their photos.  Competitions allow that too.  Hence to me, admiring a moderately or heavily ‘photoshopped’ picture is like listening to a music album.  Perfectly finished and generally accepted.  Some cross the line and they have become more like a digital art to me.  No disrespect to those who are skilled in post production work, I personally enjoy playing my music live.  I.e. my photos as they are being shot (or could have been shot).  Having said that, after ‘photoshopped’ this little photo collection of mine, I do enjoy admiring the end result of this twenty odd pictures, out of 500.

It is surreal to think that my little sister is now married.  It seems like yesterday when I changed her diapers, when I was 4.  Now, here are the rest of my photo collection.

Related Link: Personal Photo Collection of My Sister’s Wedding (HK), What a Fruitful Year that Ends with a Bang: My Sister’s Wedding