Arran Street

Arran Street, Mongkok, Kowloon

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Hong Kong’s Democracy Wall

I’d noticed it before, but the significance of the Democracy Wall, a bulletin board outside the University of Hong Kong’s main library, didn’t strike me until earlier this spring. When I first saw it, I thought its name was a wry reference to the brick wall that became a popular venue for dissent during 1978’s […]

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History in a Chair

It’s 1905 in one of Shau Tau Kok’s small Hakka villages. A young couple has just been married. Now, the bride, wearing a veil, is being carried away to her new family-in-law’s house in an elaborately-carved wooden sedan chair—co kiau in Hakka—that been draped in a red sash to keep out evil spirits. Firecrackers greet […]

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Rooftop Nights

Dusk over the Flower Market Rooftop BBQ near Prince Edward Over the rooftops of Sai Ying Pun

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Montreal in a Minute

When it first launched, Urbania magazine had a pretty useless Flash-based website that replicated selected content from its print magazine. I’m glad to see it has embraced the full potential of the web. 14 “channels” of video, images and text add a new, more dynamic aspect to the quarterly magazine. One of my favourite features […]

Coming In For Landing

[youtube][/youtube] As compelling as they might be, the famous photos of Boeing 747s swooping over densely-packed tenements as they approached Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak Airport don’t give you a real sense of what it was actually like to see, hear and feel those planes from the street. The noise of a large plane coming […]

Taxi Culture

It occurred to my friends and I, as we were travelling in a convoy of taxis down a one-lane mountain road, that it was a bit odd that an afternoon of hiking would start with a ride in a cab. But Hong Kong is an odd place. With a remarkably few private vehicles for such […]

The Grimy Side of Pokfulam

Pokfulam Road is one of Hong Kong’s posher addresses, sweeping past the leafy hills and stunning ocean views on the west side of Hong Kong Island. But its origins are far more humble: Pokfulam starts as a narrow two-lane street, besieged by the noise and exhaust of buses labouring uphill in first gear, its postwar […]

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Felled Tree

Last year, on June 10th, a sudden storm blew into Montreal with hurricane strength. It was brief but intense as fierce winds toppled trees across the city, including this one on Milton Street in the McGill Ghetto.

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East End, West End, on fume tout de même

This is what makes ghost ads in Montreal more interesting than in most places: more than just a window into the past, they reveal the city’s linguistic geography, past and present. Here we have two examples of early-twentieth-century tobacco ads revealed by recent building demolitions. One, on east-end Masson Street in Rosemont, is in French. […]

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Through the Gate

[vimeo][/vimeo] Ever since my first visit last year, the Jamia Mosque, located near the top of the Central-Mid Levels escalator, has had a special pull on me. Hidden behind its stone walls is a verdant respite from the noise and stress of Central. A stately wrought iron gate acts as a portal between a frenzied […]

The Great Outdoor Kitchen

When you combine Hong Kong’s notorious lack of space with the natural tendency of people in warm climes to prepare food outdoors, you get scenes like those above. In all but the poshest and most sanitized neighbourhoods, kitchen workers crouch over brightly-coloured plastic buckets, washing innards and greens. It might not be hygenic, but it […]

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Follow the Cat

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Trafficopter, a 1972 National Film Board documentary by Barrie Howells, isn’t especially insightful, but it is certainly stylish. Following the traffic reporter for a Montreal radio station as he soars above the morning rush hour in a small helicopter, it gazes down at a miniature city caught up in the interminable grind of daily commerce. […]