Singapore Monochrome Zoo

Singapore has a fantastic zoo.

We visit once a year each time we’re back.

I had a simple set-up that day – it’s a 40mm prime lens.

The challenge here is not so much to become the next National Geographic photographer, but simply to impart a bit of character onto the subjects.

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That’s my favourite animal, totally at home in its tropical paradise – I was born in the year of the tiger.

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A turtle flying through the water.

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A dreamy iguana.

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An enigmatic bicycle … (the kids had to pry their weird daddy and his camera away from this animal.)

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We’re that sea lion, trained to perform.

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See how hard it spins for its food.

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The chimpanzees are high above, lording over us…

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Check out that animal of a camera!

It’s a full frame Sony RX1r.

It’s a f/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens!

It’s a full frame digital camera with a fixed lens, a challenge to a Leica fixed with a 35mm lens.

I could be Garry Winogrand with that camera! (I should say Winogrand’s book The Animals was on my mind that day.)

With that camera, I could become the next Daido Moriyama… look at that lens hood!

Okay … back to the main plot.

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Once upon a time, Singapore was a small fishing village.

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Then the elephants came.

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We’re all looking out for our next orange squash.

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Capitalism is fun!

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All lined up and waiting to be splashed on by the sea lion … what fun!

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Would you like to meet a capitalist snake, anyone?

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That’s a white capitalist peacock giving us a rear view…

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A charging polar bear!

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Up close and personal with a polar bear.

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There’re lines we cannot cross.

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No worries – no one is going to eat us.

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My daughter was impressed by this bird and followed it for a bit.

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My son got real close and took the above shot.

“What’s that, daddy?”

“It’s a nice furry raccoon-like monkey animal creature.”

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Children love the horse-carriage ride.

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Nice pony!

A pony is not a baby horse.

It’s a small horse.

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My son decided this particular otter was cute and took 16 identical pictures.

(That’s partly why I don’t let him use my film cameras.)

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Bye bye! See you again next year!

For collectors: check out the prints!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay

I finally visited Gardens by the Bay.

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Check out the cool-looking Supertrees which are vertical gardens.

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The above, I suppose, is an obligatory picturesque shot.

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It’s a good place for photographers.

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Lots of selfie moments.

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You don’t really need to think to get a good shot – there’s something to be said about the blending of technology and nature at this place.

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Picture-perfect convenient nature (if that’s what you like).

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We’re in Flower Dome, one of the 2 conservatories here.

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Mummy, daddy and baby cactus.

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Phallus cactus.

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Eagle photographer.

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Eager photographer.

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The future of tech and nature.

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That’s Cloud Forest, another conservatory.

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As I’m walking around, I can’t help but think perhaps this is the future of botany.

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Maybe in the next twenty years, we’ll all be living in domes like this.

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The temperature is nice though.

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That’s the mineral exhibit area. Guess how I took this shot.

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I’m a street photography genius…

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This takes a lot of work.

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Kudos to those who’ve put in the hard work to make this possible.

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Oops – my lens fogged up when I stepped out of the conservatory.

I love mistakes like this.

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I’m a nature photographer!

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This is a nice blend of botany, technology, architecture, commerce, tourism and nation building.

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A William Gibson quote: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

Check out my Saatchi Art page!

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore: Monochrome Visions

These pictures were taken around late July/early August, when National Day (9 Aug) was just around the corner.

I was in Singapore for about three weeks, and every single day, I carry at least 2 (and sometimes 3) cameras with me when I’m out and about.

So in a way, this post (and those that come after) is a partial answer to the question of what it is about Singapore I celebrate.

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This was at the entrance of City Hall MRT station, and they saw what I was doing and posed for me.

They were holding up the sign to direct people who were going to watch the National Day Parade rehearsals.

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It looks like they were posing. They were already in that position and they turned to look at me as I approached.

All the pictures here were taken on a single roll of Kodak BW400CN, on my Minolta AF-C, and as I looked at the negatives, I was amazed to see so many images of Indian and Bangladeshi workers.

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In many ways, they are responsible for literally building Singapore.

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Singapore is what it is partly because of them.

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The physical infrastructure works like a clock partly because of them.

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I was walking on a pavement and they were holding grass-cutters, looking at me the whole time.

They were waiting for me to walk past so they could resume work.

And my wife said, quick, quick, take out your camera, and so I did and took the above photo.

Check out the chiaroscuro.

I waved and they nodded and went on with their work.

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This is Singapore.

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This, too, is Singapore.

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Definitely Singapore.

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This picture was taken while I was in a queue. Yummy.

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She spotted me and smiled.

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This too is Singapore.

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There were quite a number of soldiers in the area because of the National Day Parade rehearsals, directing crowds and traffic.

I’ve done my share of that when I was an army boy.

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Lion City banner – I aimed my camera at the banner, and waited for someone to come along to complete the picture.

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Check out the logo on the T-shirt. That’s the crescent and the five stars of the Singapore flag.

Patriotism is in the air.

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Is he a tourist or a Singapore resident? You can’t tell these days.

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This is a global Singapore.

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This was at Little India.

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Another take at Little India.

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Sometimes I wonder: why do I take street photographs? What is it about street photography, such that I feel compelled to take pictures of strangers?

An answer of sorts:

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Because I’m afraid of being conditioned by market forces into thinking of people as mannequins…

Thanks for reading, and check out my prints!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shanghai: How to Appreciate High Contrast Monochrome

Yes, I’ve recently acquired a taste for high contrast monochrome.

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It is stark, clear, and in some ways, minimalist.

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Stripped of colours, our attention is drawn directly to the subjects.

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You could overexpose a bit to make a social statement about modernity – the face of the security guard is partially eclipsed, in contrast to the blown-out advertisement.

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There’s the dichotomy between an individual and a building, and the image draws attention to rectangular grids of the building and pavement, in contrast to the white polka dots echoed in the two round shapes on the building.

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The rectangular grids here are enhanced by the bus and the back of the shirt.

More grids, blocks and lines in the next few shots:

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The face is blurred out, again emphasizing the blocks, grids and lines.

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I’m about to reveal a useful street photography technique.

All these shots are done from a mobile elevated position.

I’ve set this up so I could do street photography on the move.

I spent $40 RMB setting this up, though the equipment involved, depending on the model, could easily cost more than $200 000 RMB.

I’m a very talent street photographer, you see.

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Can you guess what it is?

It’s really a fantastic piece of equipment for the street photographer, which has to be manned by another person.

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It’s called an open-air double-decker tour bus.

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$40 RMB is the price of an all day ticket on a route with 3-4 bus lines.

 

My ten-year-old son wants to have a go. The next eight images are by him.

I gave him 2 very important street photography tips:

1) Try not to place the subject at the center.

2) Don’t drop the camera or else.

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I’m responsible for the high contrast monochrome, of course.

But what can I say – he has good creative genes. 🙂

Okay, my turn.

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The above is the street photographer assistant I hired, taking a break from handling that fantastic piece of equipment for me.

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The youth of Shanghai, walking with a swagger.

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I like the facial expressions.

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Cool dudes.

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A blurry shot, something I learnt from Daido Moriyama…

Thanks for reading, and buy my prints!

 

 

Shanghai Colours

My previous post was of Shanghai in monochrome, using my Minolta AF-C with Ilford XP2 400 film.

This is my Olympus XA2 talking, speaking the language of Fuji Superia 800.

These 2 cameras with the respective films are my favorite double combo.

We’re still at Huashan Street and its vicinity.

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I’m quite proud of this, with the reds at the bottom left as a counterweight to the rest of the image.

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The papers fell off and he basically made a U-turn and stopped to pick them up.

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Yes, a feisty lauwai (aka gweilo/angmoh/expat/foreigner) who has adapted to Shanghai and its traffic.

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Taking a break.

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He glared at me.

I said “ni hao” (hello/how are you) and smiled and he rolled his eyes and looked away.

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Yay! Three modes of transport in a single image.

I can’t decide whether it’s a small scooter or an electric bicycle…

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She glared at me for a bit. So I bowed slightly, smiled and hastened off.

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Children being children.

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Fashionable Shanghai.

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Hard at work.

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Waiting.

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Yummy street food! (Resist I must.)

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I like the redness of the car and his T-shirt.

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A security kiosk with my reflection.

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The other side of the kiosk (and my reflection).

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An alleyway – I like this a lot as it looks rather painterly to me.

Some of the images here are available at my Saatchi Art page as affordable open edition prints. Do check it out.

 

Purchasing Schemes

Again we choose.

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We decide.

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We look.

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Hmm…

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That one! Yes!

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This is the season.

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We’re in season.

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We stop to think.

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And buy wisely.

All images are taken with my stealthy Contax TVS II with Ferrania Solaris 400 film.

For collectors: some images here are available as open edition affordable prints at my Saatchi Art page.

Thanks for reading!

 

Shenzhen Shopping Monochrome

For the images here, I’ve done a B/W conversion from Fuji Venus 800 film loaded on Olympus XA2.

I’ve done a minimal bit of tweaking for some high contrast.

To my eyes, they look somewhat raw and harassed.

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Here’s another one of Luohu Commercial City, viewed  at a lower level.

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You could see this is a popular place for bargains.

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The above composition looks quirky – though it looks strangely apt.

This is how we see things – artlessly.

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I’m up close, and they’re too busy negotiating prices to notice.

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Why is it that yummy food is always unhealthy food?

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That’s the way we see things sometimes – blurred and hurried.

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You could see I lingered for a bit at this stall…

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Check out those food on the skewers …

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And yes, let’s not forget the man who winked at my wife…

Some images from this post are available here as affordable prints, in case you haven’t checked out my Saatchi Art page yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ngong Ping Cable Car IV

If you’ve read the previous 3 posts, you’ll know that the photographs below were in some of those posts, though they are in color here.

Yes, my B mode (berserk mode) in the cable car.

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Monochrome is a gift to the street photographer, because:

i) it removes distracting elements and focuses our attention on the theme and/or graphic elements such as lines/grids/repetitions;

ii) it provokes a knee-jerk reaction to do with aesthetic pretensions (ooh b/w, therefore it must be seriously worthy/arty/historical/documentary);

iii) there’s virtue in taking the minimalist less-is-more approach.

But sometimes, less can be less as well.

Slightly contrasty colors can be striking.

Here’re the cable car exhibits (which my wife said looked like Ultraman heads).

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While we’re on the subject of superheroes, it’s hard to resist that Superman blue and red combo.

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Blue and red combo again.

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Slightly desaturated colors can be … poetic.

Colors could mark our different kinds of spaces.

Colorful below, black and white above.

There’s a statement here to be made about human colors vs religious monochrome.

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The colors below look Kodak Ultramax -ish to me.

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Anyway, there’s a tussle here of course, and you could say the photograph in color is not the same as the one in monochrome.

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This one below looks Kodak Portra – ish. (Yes, yes, I miss my film cameras already.)

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Of course, there are various kinds of monochrome (low vs high contrast, different filters, etc.).

Not to mention b/w vs colors as in film photography.

Photography is a universe in itself.

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Until next time.

 

 

 

 

Ngong Ping Cable Car III

This is the third post in a series of four.

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That’s one of the twelve divine generals from Chinese mythology.

I know this because of my impressive encyclopedic mental repertoire of culture knowledge. Plus, I’m Chinese.

The information plate below the statue helped only a little bit.

More food, yes.

Food and intellectual work are closely intertwined, as we know.

Let’s see, we’ve got almond sesame soup, bean curd, tea eggs, etc.

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Etc. Ooh, did I mention tea eggs?

They’re made of chicken and tea.

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Time for the strenuous task of taking the cable car down the hill.

Again, I’m in B mode (berserk mode) with my camera in the cable car.

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I shall spare you from the awe-inspiring beauty of my other 29 photographs of passing cable cars.

And because a cable car sits a maximum of 10 people, we’re in here with another family.

This lady, too, is holding a camera.

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A poetic moment.

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There’s something to be said about being tourists – there’re always photographs telling you how to be tourists.

What better way to have fun in a cable car than to joyfully admire photographs of people having fun in cable cars. (See bottom left of photo below.)

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Finally, below is what you see at the end of the cable car Big Buddha trip, just so you know you’re back in Hong Kong land.

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Ngong Ping Cable Car II

This is the second of four posts in the series.

We stopped at the following quote in the previous post:

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.

(Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

After the strenuous task of going up the hill via cable car, it’s time for lunch.

So, yes: here’s our very helpful waitress from the aptly named Zen Noodle Cafe (a very important kind of zen nonetheless).

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There’re exhibits of cable cars from all over the world. This is from Spain.

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This is from France.

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My wife said they look like Ultraman heads. Which indeed they do… (wait till you see them in colour in my last post).

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So, yes, we need some more food before going up those 268 steps to the Big Buddha.

My wife and I were panting (only slighty) halfway (almost) up the steps.

To encourage us, my son and daughter (bless their youthful and energetic souls!) insisted on counting those steps we’d just taken – 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 …

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I must admit these are really beautiful sculptures.

Time for another obligatory Pirsig quote:

Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

(Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/pirsig_robert_m.html#qY3ZCqf1wh3GR32J.99

Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/pirsig_robert_m.html#qY3ZCqf1wh3GR32J.99

Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/pirsig_robert_m.html#qY3ZCqf1wh3GR32J.99

 

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And of course, I can’t help but do my street photography thing.

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There’s an interesting blend of spirituality and tourism to the place.

I can’t help but admire Hong Kong for doing it so well.

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