The South Island 2021

22 August 2021

Normally on my birthday I treat myself to a photographic road trip around the South Island. This time I had 10 days and so I spent it doing a northern loop .  We stayed the nights in Christchurch (1) , Kaikoura (2) , Blenheim (1), Karamea(3), Punakaiki (1), Hurunui(2), then back to Wellington. With all modesty, I would say my planning was pretty successful creating a very enjoyable , rewarding holiday, that I am still talking about it.

 In fact so successful that I created individual stories of many of the places we visited.  The fact that my wife,  tripod holder and food organiser enjoyed it as well was testament to my great planning skills. Also  luck had a lot to do with it as far as weather was concerned - it stopped raining whenever we wanted to walk.  

Actually I wish to give full credit to Peter Janssen

https://www.paperplus.co.nz/shop/books/non-fiction/travel/travel-guides/worth-a-detour-south-island-hidden-places-and-unusual-destinations-off-the-beaten-track?refSrc=9781869665265&nosto=productpage-nosto-2

I used his book to plan my itinerary. Well recommended.

1.   As far as a photographic study  this picture has little merit and definitely isn't a "keeper" as far as exhibiting goes. So why did I incude it,  especially in prime real estate at the top of the page ?

The image to me, epitomizes what one sees when travelling the South Island.  Sheep (of course), hills, trees or mountains in the background, the barn, that water irrigater contraption, helpful road signs, the friendly walker on the road who waves at you, fences, haybales, and powerlines to ruin a good photo. The only thing missing is a lake or river !

2.  Waiau River.  The Lewis Pass, travelling from West to East must be one of the most scenic drives in NZ. We travelled on it at Dusk (4 sec exposure). I plan to redo the journey, late afternoon in future and take my time.

 

3.  Denniston.  An abandoned mining town way up the mountain.  Well worth the visit. Its like a dystopian scene from a steam punk movie.

4.  The Blue Duck (Whio) very rare and endanger of becoming extinct.

I was lucky to see one on the way to the Oparara arches. The DOC worker told us to go to the river to look !

He was the one who imprinted Moa foot prints in the concrete pavers leading to the Moria Arches.......

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Comments

Alyson Potter
Posted: 24 Aug 2021

I was very impressed with the number of elements you achieved in your first picture. I was also incredibly impressed with your endangered duck taking flight . The crispness of your image was amazing. I loved the reflection also.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Alyson.
 

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Karamea the Friendliest Town in NZ ?

I always wanted to go to Karamea. Not many people have been there unless they are doing the Heaphy track.

Two reasons. One, my Hygienist (Kirsty) who  had previously worked for me always asked in conversation "have you ever been to Karamea ?"  Kirsty is a very good clinician and was from Karamea. Two, my mentor and photographer  John Foster  recommended I go there when I was planning a photographic road trip a few years ago. John now does photographic tours around the South Island and I appreciate that he was willing to share information on the best sites for photography.

This is the reason I planned 3 nights there - I had enough time to have a good look around.

It all starts after completing what I think is the longest windiest (as in curvy)  highway in NZ.  And I thought it was a simple straight drive up the coast.  So what starts you may ask.

Its the hand waving. Everyone you see driving past waves hello and we wave back, one hand up, one hand down. I'm thinking, this is nice.

Glad there aren't many cars on the road as the workman will never get the job done.

Everyone we meet is welcoming, helpful and friendly. You know the movies. The cowboy walks into the bar  and there is sudden silence with a hundred murdering eyes staring at him. Then he goes to the bar and say "whisky, Jim Beam". Then everyone relaxes.

I go to the bar , those in front turn around and offer me a smile and would probably shake my hand if I extended it.

The barman asks what it will be. Being a townie from Wellington, I ask,  got any craft beer? Big mistake.

Fortunately the bartender is friendly and apologetic  and points to the Monteiths, and the beer on tap.

 I order a DB draught, or was it a Lion Brown on tap?  Big mistake. They haven't  changed from my University days and we use to call it p*ss. Some things never change.

However I did find what I consider the tastiest meat pie in NZ. There is only one cafe in Karamea (Vinnies) and only 3 places to have dinner. I can proudly say I been to them all. Back to the meat pie. I love mince pies. I don't understand the NZ obsession with Cheese and Mince pies. These are the ones that win the best pie  awards. Cheese is for ham, or pineapple, or tomatoes but not beef..... Anyway Vinnies make a stunning mince pie There was at least one and a half inch  thickness of filling and a very thin flaky pastry case. The mince itself was like mum would do. Mince cut up finely, onions, vegetables added to become a savoury mince and the gravy just stayed within the meat and didn't flow out. This definitely wasn't a railways pie of old- bits of meat, gristle and gravy with rubbery pastry.

 Even Sally  enjoyed it and she normally doesn't eat pies. She has a healthy lunch.

For more about Karamea check out this article I discovered on Stuff:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/119826486/karamea-the-last-little-town-on-the-west-coast

Anyone who is familiar with my website knows that if something impresses me , I want to photograph it.

The more images you see the more impressive  the moment was for me. Karamea you get top spot for my holiday. 

My only regret is I did not photograph the mince pie with my phone.

Looks like I have to return.

1.    View from Little Wanganui

2.    Mirror Tarn   Oparara Basin

3.     Moira Gate Arch   Oparara Basin

4.     Moira Gate Arch

5.     Moira Gate Arch

6.     Oparara Arch

Comments

Kim Mumford
Posted: 7 Sep 2021

So gorgeous! I have no idea New Zealand has such a beauty. Thanks Chris for sharing. Great capture!

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Kim
 

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Kaikoura

I have been going to the Kaikoura Peninsular viewpoint since university days.  it was a great stop when travelling from Dunedin to Blenheim in one day.

I think this is one of New Zealands best iconic scenes.  Where else do you get the sea and the mountains in the background ?

We stayed in Kaikoura to go whale watching. Unfortunately because of the weather it was cancelled 2 days in a row.

Again, looks like I have to return here as well.

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4.  Clarence River from Waipapa Road

5.  Clarence River

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Riverside Market Christchurch

I had never heard of Riverside Market until one of my work colleagues mentioned it on a visit during a very wet Christchurch weekend. Donna said this was the highlight of her visit.

I wish to congratulate the developers on the vision and courage to develop such a venture- it makes our Willis St  food hall look really sad. This is what Wellington needs, plus something like the Margaret Mahy playground at the waterfront.

Just looking at the images again makes me hungry and eager to return for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Here is a link for more information on the riverside market

https://newsline.ccc.govt.nz/news/story/riverside-market-delivers-fresh-food-edge-to-city

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Ashburton Aviation Museum

I was listening to this interview on national radio a month ago. I didn't know the aviation museum existed.

 And most of my plane buddies haven't heard of this as well.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018804932/space-balls-on-display-in-ashburton

Personally I am more interested in Jets than biplanes and I had to see the Hawker Harrier jet.

So after collecting the rental car we rushed down to Ashburton, travelling on one of the most boring roads in NZ. Ironically I also travelled on one of the most beautiful roads in NZ travelling back to Christchurch-the Lewis Pass.

https://www.aviationmuseum.co.nz/cms/index.php

Note the limited opening hours.


Ng King Brothers

My good friend Rhonda who represents the Christchurch branch of the NZ Chinese Association suggested I check out a bit of NZ chinese history while I was down in Ashburton.

This is relevant to me as my grandparents came to NZ to work as market gardeners but this was based in Blenheim.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/mid-canterbury-selwyn/123339374/historic-chinese-market-garden-settlement-to-be-restored


Inle Lake

23.05.21

This is my 3rd visit to Inle lake. The scenery doesn't change and nor do the people. That is why I like returning.

Please refer to my Blog 2018 for more info on Inle Lake.

One thing positive about Covid is that it may have put a stop to the over development of Inle lake with zillions of Hotels.

Plus the current uprising and having the military dictatorship also make me sad. The lovely and kind people definitely deserve better.

Over the next few months I will be populating this website with more images of Myanmar to show you what a great place it is and worth a visit in the future when possible.

1. All photos taken on the  10th November2019

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Comments

Geoff Tomkins
Posted: 6 Jun 2021

Love picture 5 - food and trinkets all mixed together and happy looking people. Must admit I have always preferred colour to B&W but great pictures Chris

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Geoff
 

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Central Otago

31 January 2021

We travelled to Central Otago with another two couples to celebrate  (part of the reason) my significant birthday. Hint, I get free public transport.

This time we based ourselves around Central Otago. As far north as Mt Cook and as far south as Clyde.

Highlights include a visit to old Clyde township, Hawk House (which deserves its own space below) , curling at Naseby, eating at the Waipiata pub (twice in a row), Lake Ohau lodge, and walking the Hooker Valley track for the third time.

In my photos this time I tried to capture the essence of Central Otago. This includes the  Big Sky, golden brown grass, wire fences and meatpies.

Sorry if you're hungry but no meat pies in this blog but follow the link for the Michellin Meat pie guide-"yeah right"  as the expression goes. 

Every vista I photographed I kept on saying "big sky, big sky" and you know what, it is a big sky! Hence the style of Grahame Sydney's paintings.

But the biggest pleasure, apart from the company we were with, was the space, open roads, no traffic ,

and friendly people. All of this under the same roof- yeah the big sky.

1.  4 August 2020

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Sheep Muster

We had just spent the night at the lovely Danseys Pass Hotel. I discovered this hotel on my last photographic trip a few years ago (Sept 2017) and vowed to stay at the hotel if we re visited Danseys Pass.

 It was a wonderful stay with lovely food. At breakfast we were warned that if we were proceeding up the pass to Duntroon there would be a delay as the farmers were sheep mustering in the morning.

Well we were delayed on the pass but the farmers offered for us to join the muster.  The Hotel owner was there and one of the farmers was his brother! That was a great experience personally and photographically. The dogs were so friendly as well and disciplined. They all did their job well and it illustrated the bond between dogs and humans.

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Comments

Eve Law
Posted: 8 Apr 2021

Wow you forget just how stunning our country is. I love the sheep photos especially no. 2 and being a dog lover I love the photo of the dogs sitting altogether. The Hawk house looks amazing. Belated Happy Birthday and welcome to the gold card club!

 

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The Hawk House

30 Jan 2021

We had the privilege to stay at  The hawk house  for a few nights at the beginning of our Central Otago Holiday late July 2020.

The location was amazing with great views over the valley. I tried to capture the landscapes at different times (ie sunrise, sunset), different lenses and different angles. I am sure on other days the scenery would be even more dramatic.

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Around Kyaingtong

2 Nov 2020

Wow, a year has gone by already since we last went to Myanmar.  Our guide Paul took us to his village which consists of the Akeu tribe. As you can see they enjoy their pipe smoking.

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Village life

This is the Ann people and they are a hill tribe based far away from civilisation.

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10.    Farmers on the road to visit the different hill tribes.

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12.   In the township  of Kyaingtong these young monks were just returning from the morning Tak Bat.

Comments

Richard
Posted: 8 Dec 2020

Great study of the Hill tribes Chris. Some fantastic subjects here and you’ve done well with some great shots. My favourites are still the balloons at night. Some of them are absolutely awesome.

Chris Bing replies: thanks Richard

Jon Ossher
Posted: 9 Dec 2020

Especially like 2-5 of the b&ws. Terrific detail, 2 especially - the poise and sense of self of this pipe smoker, and the age and contrasts of focus in 3-5. 7,8 and 11 (wonderful shot captures the fun and innocence in the moment) in the coloured shots. Great sense of place in 7 and 8. Work keeps getting better Dr Bing!

 

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1.    This picture was taken down South near Hpa an  after visiting some caves.  I took this study of the children. Mum was so proud of her kids that she dressed them up for me to take another photo.


Taunggyi Balloon Festival (or Massacre)

18 April 2020

In November 2019 I returned to Myanmar for the third time for a fortnights holiday. For me to return to a holiday destination within  a year and a half is pretty unusual. On the last visit to Myanmar my guide Thwin showed me photos of this annual balloon festival held in November .  Apparently all the surrounding villages compete making balloons out of paper. These are propelled by hot air.  There are two types of balloons. During the day there are animal shapes. At night spherical balloons with different images painted on them. These balloons carry cargo consisting of either candles or home made fireworks. The balloons looked amazing and not many Westerners go to this event. So I thought I got to see it before it is stopped or diluted. Also I'm getting too old to carry all that heavy photography gear so I had better do it soon.

Why diluted ? Well how does a stack of home made fireworks , no crowd control, and naked flame  sound? I mean sometimes I think OSH (occupational safety and health) can be a bit over the top, but here we have the other extreme. Apparently it is not uncommon to have accidents and people even dying at these events. Villages have even blown up with the fire works production. The animal balloons are particularly prone to fire because of the odd shapes. You have to create hot air without the flames touching the paper. Hence the term massacre . A lot of animals were destroyed making this movie...... Balloons on fire crash into nearby buildings or even the crowds. Fortunately we didn't get injured but Thwin was watching my back when I was taking some risky photos with fire everywhere. He was a great wing man.  We did get hit by raining ashes and debris from the incinerating balloons in the sky though.  As mentioned before no crowd control. This also meant no traffic control. On leaving the festival it took 2 hours to advance 200m!  But I got my photos, had my Kindle to read, and great company to share the experience with, so I didn't mind. Sometimes you have to perservere for a once in a lifetime event! I will let you be the  judge on  whether it was worth it.

1.     9 Nov 2019

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9.  Sponsored advertising spot. Want to buy something from her?

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11.  Preparing the candles

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18. Crash into the civilian population.

19.  Home made fireworks made by each village.  Battlestar Galactica.

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24.  Raining down  phosphorus and ashes.

Comments

Richard
Posted: 19 Apr 2020

Really interesting and impressive photos Chris and you are right, it looks B. dangerous. Glad you are still with us. Thanks for the long blog email and keeping us all entertained during this long enforced isolation. I hate the thought of less cameras, lenses and particularly less travel. Keep safe.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard for viewing. Sally says she won't go again as its too dangerous! I probably wouldn't but when I look at what other people have photographed on the web , I feel there is a lot more I could have done creatively. But I will just concentrate on the South Island for the next couple of years. My old Nikon D800 will suffice.
 

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Don't Cry for Me Argentina

30.June 2019

I went to Buenos Aires for a week  with my wife Sally on an Air NZ package deal with 30 other kiwis. I didn't know what to expect except there will be some Tango and to look after your personal belongings as the strreets aren't safe.

These apprehensions and mindset  were similiar  going to Barcelona except  you can substitiute tango for flamenco.

Fortunately I didn't get robbed, and I found the locals very friendly and helpful. If only I knew Spanish. The level of English and number of English speakers is similar in ratio to the number of Spanish speakers in NZ-not many. I also felt reassured walking in the streets as there were police  on nearly every corner  armed to the teeth. I was also surprised at how many female police were around and how attractive they were. I felt like asking to be arrested and those handcuffs were appealing..... I  wonder if they Tango as well?

We had a great group of Kiwis travelling with us and our guide Silvana was probably the best guide we have come across. Knowlegeable , friendly and very attentive. She wanted to make sure we all had a good time. And she had to work very hard as it rained everyday. Her throw away line was "ïts only a little water..." Fortunately Sally and I were prepared as we are from Wellington. We had waterproof coats  and boots so we stayed  dry. At least there was no wind which was a bonus.

The guides said they had the best beef in the world. I would agree as the steaks were fantastic. Unfortunately the rest of the cooking were not to NZ standards. Over cooked greens (if you got any) and very heavy on the sauces. They also seen to love their caramel sauce. My banana pancakes were smothered in sauce.

Visiting restaurants all we saw  were empanadas, chips , steaks and hamburgers.  But the wine was very good . I was drinking Malbecs  every night The chardonnay was good as well. The Local Champagne was also very drinkable as I am not normally a fan of sparkling wine. I didn't  have one bad glass of wine  and the prices were reasoanble as well.

The highlight for me though was the Tango. I always loved Argentine Tango and I have VHS tapes to prove it-yes its been that long ago.  Now I was living in the soul of Tango. It's a bit like Elvis fans going to Graceland. We saw  a great tango show and all around was tango in the streets. Apart from beef this must be one of Argentinas greatest exports.

The people we met were all very hard working trying to survive. Infaltion rate is around 50%.

I saw an article in the Economist a while ago lamenting the fact that for all its potential Argentina is still a basket case economy over the last 30 years. The every day people complain there isn't any one worth voting for in the upcoming elections as only the rich and influential benefit.

So I wish to make a toast to all you lovely Malbec drinkers with one of my high quality Pinot noirs.  You all deserve better and may the future improve for all of you.  I really enjoyed the experience and will return for tango lessons!

The title should be Don't cry for Eva but cry for Argentina. 

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2.  16 June 2019    The day of the big power cut affecting Argentina and Uruguay. The worse in Argentinas recent history.  The church across the road had Mass by candlelight.

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12.     20 June 2019    The view outside the window leaving Buenos Aires.

Comments

brent higham
Posted: 15 Jul 2019

Hi Chris very entertaining blog I enjoy your street photography here appropriate with good timing cheers.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Brent.
 

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Tango Argentina

24 June 2019

 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have a lot to answer to with their song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"

which was playing at this moment at the Tango show. That's Evita in the background and the singer is the dark shadow in the middle.

It is played everywhere the tourist goes. This song to this country is equivalet to "Waltzing Matilda" in Australia.  Apparently the locals love it to and have adopted it as their own (especially the Peronists).

This is ironic though as it is a British song. But it was made popular before the war. The Argentinians have a love hate relationship with all things British because of the war.  I too remember the war period vividly as I had moved to Hong Kong and staying in a hostel full of British policeman. We were watching the news every night. The tension was palpable especially on hearing about the Exocet missile and its effectiveness. 

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Comments

Richard
Posted: 8 Jul 2019

Beautiful Tango images Chris. Impressive, they would not have been easy to get I imagine. Thanks for sharing your blog and images.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard, they were not easy to get with a small sensor mirrorless camera. Focus acquisition was not very good and my percentage of keepers was very low!
 

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Open Day at the Kilbirne Mosque

13 May 2019

1.     27 April 2019

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Those Blurry Shots

20.April 2019

I don't usually go for those "ärtistic" blurry shots especialy the zooming in or out shots.

I prefer sharpness. I didn't spend all that money on expensive lenses to get unsharp shots. And I don't have any soft focus filters in my kit as well.

But sometimes blur can be used to express motion or time as you can see in my present photos.

Those eagle eyed photo equipment people may have noticed I'm using a new camera now and a different sensor system.  The smaller sensor size (micro 4/3rds) is now my default camera system which I take with me everywhere. Previous to that it was the 1 inch sensor (Canon G5X) which I have used in previous blogs (2 May 2016).

The  Panasonic G9 is a very competent camera  considering the sensor limitations compared to a full frame camera.

 At times I consider the G9 my  mini Nikon D3 for its high speed capabilities and construction.

It also has dual stabilisers, one in the lens and one in the body. This enables me to hand hold the camera  for a time considered impossible without a tripod.  I can produce a sharp shot at only a half second exposure !  Previously my handholding shots were around 1/60sec as I suffer camera shake (don't tell my patients!). So in a busy Mong Kok street with no time to set up a tripod (I didn't have one anyway) I managed to capture motion but keep the main subject sharp-using technology to increase artistic expression.

1.     Kyoto  It was in a very dark suburban street. Note aperture and shutter speed.

1 Jan 2019    G9     iso1600     15mm     f1.7     1/6sec     Leica DG 15mm f1.7 

2.  Mong Kok

6 Jan 2019     G9     iso200     12mm     f11   0.6 sec

 

3.     14 Jan 2019     G9     iso200     12mm     f22     0.6sec

4.     Shanghai St 

16 Jan 2019     G9     iso200     19mm     f7.1     1/5sec

5.  Cross Harbour Tunnel Hong Kong

16 Jan 2019     iso200     60mm     f22     1.3sec     

Comments

brent higham
Posted: 8 May 2019

i am impressed with your hand held shots a definite plus for the g9 system also the colour saturation of the night images

Chris Bing replies: Thanks, as mentioned in my first reply to you. ps the tunnel shot, the camera was resting on the handrail.....
 

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Kyoto

20.April 2019

Kyoto, what a wonderful city. So much more relaxing than Tokyo.

It also helps that it is a very walkable city.

A lot of the famous Japanese images of the shrines and gardens come from Kyoto. You won't find any here! Yes I did see them and they were beautiful but what I took may do justice to a tourist brochure but not this website (bloody snob.....).  I was busy chasing Kimonos , not to wear but to photograph.

However there were lots of imposters walking around especially Chinese mainland tourists in costume for a day. Cosplay? But the ones I got were genuine and they spoke Japanese. You know the expression- If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck!

1.     31 Dec 2018     G9     iso 1000     f8.0     1/640sec

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Here's the Touristy photo i didn't promise.....

Kinkaku-ji  temple , Golden Pavillion

Hong Kong

20 April 2019

What do I do when I'm in Holiday in my second most favourite city in the world?

Shopping in Apliu St ( usb-c cables, memory cards , China made photo accessories)

Eating all my favourite foods (1000 year old eggs, preverved sausage rice hotpots , shanghai food, roast pidgeon)

Street Photography- Only because I've done my shopping for the day and I'm holding my camera with time to spare...

The G9 is a great camera for street photography.

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2.     Mongkok 

6 Jan 2019     G9     iso1600     12mm     f3.5     1/50sec

3.  Moko shopping centre Mong kok

4.  Newspaper stand outside Admiralty, HK Island

12 Jan 2019     G9    iso 3200     29mm     f5.6     1/160sec

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8.  New Territories walk , Plover Cove

Wu Kau Tang to Lai Chi Wo    Sally and Wendy in background

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Tai O

20 April 2019

I have always enjoyed visiting the Tai O fishing village on Lantau Island.

In the old days it was only accessible by ferry but with the new Airport we can take the bus there as well.

The main business of Tai O now is catering for weekend visitors and selling dried fish. The village has so much character and I always wanted to stay there overnight to capture the Sunrise and Sunset. Most times in the past we had to rush to get the ferry home.

I discovered on Booking .com a B&B place called Espace Elastique . The host Veronica was very helpful and served a wonderful european breakfast. She was born on Hong Kong Island but her ancestry is closely tied to Tai O. She also spent  alot of her life in Finland. I do recommend people stay there to experience the island life and enjoy a lovely stay.

Anyway she lamented how difficult it was to run a business as there were few younger people around and her present helper was approcaching retirement age.

Indeed walking around the island all I saw was the shopkeepers, old people and their domestic help.  This was an island of old people. Hopefully my B&W image reflects the demographics.

I think the HK Govt needs to have plans to rejuvenate the island as it is such an asset to the history and the tourism sector. Veronica isn't  holding out much hope.....

1.     18 Jan 2019     G9     iso400     23mm     f3.6  1/60sec

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Comments

Richard
Posted: 24 Apr 2019

As always Chris, you have some great shots of Lantau Is.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard, I just love the fishing village, so much character.
 

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