It was finally time to visit more of Asia, which I still haven't explored enough. Hong Kong seemed like a good starting point as any, with the former British territory now officially being a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. The city didn't disappoint, with its unique urban character and plenty of opportunities for photography.
Hong Kong Island
Being a bit of skyscraper geek, the skyline was definitely my favourite part of the city, with its unique blend of sea, highrises and hillsides.
A very common sight in Hong Kong in an effort to keep the city clean.
Nan Lian Garden
The city has a few nice gardens, the most beautiful one I got to see is the Nan Lian Garden, just next to the Chi Lin Nunnery.
Chi Lin Nunnery
The Tang dynasty architecture style temple with its flower gardens is worth a visit.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple
The actual number is a bit higher, or so they say.
.. who gave them money?
The status on the stairs up to the monastery.
Each statue has different features with unique facial expressions.
The temple is located north of Lion Rock, with a view over the mountains.
The greenery and hilly landscape makes the skyline's density extra special.
The monastery - which doesn't actually house monks - opened in 1957.
Choi Hung Estate
The basketball court in front of the coloured building facade is one of Hong Kong's most famous Instagram locations - and it shows with dozens of tourists up there on this weekend day. I chose to go with a slightly different shot, capturing the residents, but you can see the selfie action in the background.
Kowloon Walled City
One of the lesser known stories of Hong Kong. This part of the city became a largey ungoverend enclave in the late 1800s, with the population (and the buildings) rising to 50000 by the 1990s. With a lack of municipal control and high crime rates, the district basically governed itself through organised syndicates.
Not much is left today - the area has been converted into a park after the city was demolished in the early 1990s, with only a few monuments reminding visitors of what once stood here.
The Walled City park is now filled with greenery.
The residential high rise architecture style of Kowloon is characterised by slim buildings optimised to house as many units as possible.
On the other side, the Central district of Hong Kong island with largely hotel and commercial towers presents a colourful architectural diversity.
Central and Wan Chai
The skyline in its full dusk glory.
And an hour later, with the red sailed tourist junk (ancient Chinese sailing ship) crossing the bay.
The daily 8pm light show is best viewed from the Tsim Sha Tsui pier, although admittedly it is not particularly impressive.
The famous boats with the red sails today act as restaurants and entertainment ships.
There is something unusual on every corner, such as this abandoned painting in the upper parts of Central.
Who knows the name of this species?
The lobby under the HSBC tower (and in general half of Hong Kong island) was filled with Filipinas setting up little personal spaces out of boxes on this particular day - we never found out why.
The outside view of one of the many double decker trams on Hong Kong island, which started operating in 1904.
Double Decker Tram
Taken from the upper deck of the famous tram line running alongside the coast of Hong Kong island.
A great and affordable way to explore the streets.
Hong Kong's skyscrapers provide endless patterns.
The IFC II Tower from the roof gardens of the IFC Mall.
While architecturally not as quirky as the Bank of China nor as sleek as the ICC, the IFC II tower remains the tallest building on Hong Kong island.
It's only outshone by it's neighbour across the bay, the ICC at 484m, now the 11th tallest building in the world.
The longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world takes you up slopes of Central - although a few parts are under renovation now, which will be ongoing until 2021.
Spotted on the path up towards the Jamia Mosque.
The mosque sits surrounded by high rises in muted tones, complemeting its soft green colours.
One of China's main historic exports.
Another popular Instagram photo is the murals on Graham street - at any given time there'll be 5 or so people posing.
Man Mo Temple
One of the most beautiful temples in Hong Kong.
Unfortunately I only made it there shortly before it closed, so the members were busy cleaning up for the day and removed many of the incense spirals.
Who can translate?
And what are these for?
The temple origins from the 1800s.
Didn't take the chance to try this though.
While over 90% of the population are classified as ethnic Chinese, Hong Kong does feel diverse with global tourists and a large expat community,
The Hong Kong Wheel
At just over 60m it isn't particularly high, but does come with a good view over the bay.
Another photography hotspot is the Fok Cheong building in Quarry Bay - it's easy to see why.
Another opportunity for a shot that exemplifies Hong Kong's urbanity is the nearby Tak Lee building.
Wall of Windows
The scarcity of land and the need for residential units has resulted in densely built mass housing projects, such as this one.
The True Ruler
Of 16 Hong Shing Street.
Taken from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority educational floor in the IFC, which offers some good (and free) views, albeit with a lot of window reflections.
... greets you with the view of the three chimneys of one of the largest power plants in Hong Kong.
Looking past that though, the island offers a few nice beaches and quiet villages with restaurants offering fresh sea food, just 20min from Hong Kong island.
There are no cars on the island, resulting in a bike centered mode of transport.
Did I say car free? They do have some type of cars.
Simple and personal.
And so are the people - this farmer had a lot to tell, although I didn't understand a word.
A tourist enjoying the shaded views of the beaches at Lamma island.
Ornithology certainly isn't one of my specialities - what kind of bird is this?
There is indeed!
Dragon Boat Festival
The flags were put up for the Dragon Boat festival, which took place at Lamma just a day before our visit.
The Lion Pavillion
One of the lookouts on Victoria Peak.
Often covered by scattered clouds rolling over the hills, this is the highest point on Hong Kong island.
And consequently offers what is arguably the best view over the city, with Central in the foreground and Kowloon on the other side of the bay.
The best position - with the fewest crowds - is at Lugard Road lookout, just 15min walk from the Peak tram station.
Soaking it in
The view from the Lugard street lookout.
When the sun has set, and the lights come on, Hong Kong shows its magic.
Hong Kong is home to over 2700 buildings taller than 100m - the largest number in the world.
The last step in the amazing transition from daylight to nighttime seen from the Peak.
I really enjoyed the large number of footbridges in the city and the general effort to make it pedestrian (and photographer) friendly.
There isn't a street without them.
And many of these lights need frequent repairs, carried out by guys like him.
Crossing the bay with the Star Ferry always makes for nice perspectives.
A Step Forward
With this new law for Hong Kong.
A creative city.
While the omnipresent (and omnidripping) AC units don't make a for a pleasant facade, a surprising effort is placed on making exteriors look presentable, usually with muted colours and simple shapes.
Caugt this woman engaging in some morning routine.
The high rises stand in sharp contrast with many of the simple low rise sheds still present in some parts of the city, such as the fruit and vegetable market seen here.
Hong Kong is a primary shopping destination for many Chinese mainland tourists. Good or bad? Depends who you ask.
Or something like that.
Need a Goldfish?
The goldfish market in Mong Kok offers all sorts of acquatic and other life in very questionable packaging.
Or so it seems.
Fish in a Bag
The primary way to sell fresh water fish on the market.
A long day selling on the flower market is what made this woman use her table as a napping spot.
In many places in Asia, bamboo replaces steel or aluminum when building support structures for construction - see some of the later photos for evidence.
The Mong Kok area is where you'll find many of Hong Kong's busy markets.
Including the fish market.
Anyone know the name of this game?
Another one of the photographic highlights of Hong Kong is the Oi Man Estate.
A view of the building to provide some perspective, shot with my widest angle lens. Only the odd laundry hanging from the corridor breaks the pattern.
From the Star Frerry, with the IFC II in the background.
Back Alley CCTV
Many areas of Hong Kong are fully covered by CCTV, highlighted here by a projection at the entrance of this alley.
The entrance to a small park near the Temple Street night market.
As seen from a nearby parking building (which is always a good place to get elevated views).
A big neon sign just off the night market, tinting the area in pink and purple hues.
Temple Street Night Market
The entrance of the night market, stretching down several blocks.
One of the sidestreets in Mong Kok seen from the elevated walk way at Mong Kok road.
Nights are colorful in the city.