Posts tagged Asia

Seoul, Korea Airport

time to kill



Seoul Airport, Korea

I thought Seoul’s airport was quiet compared to New York’s where I was twelve hours before. The plane flew a decrescendo over the ocean and in Korea a fancy little quartet played lulling waiting passengers to sleep on benches. There was no startling ominous messages over the loud speaker. No one here seems to be worried about leaving their baggage unattended, or warning each other into a constant fear of the person sitting next to them. I know the history, and I know why it is the way it is, but the stark contrast traveling from one side of the pacific to the other was all I could think about as I paced the long moving walkways killing what felt like all the time in the world.


Hong Kong Google Map – Causeway Bay

hong kong map



I walked down a wet side street in Hong Kong, led by Mrs. Au. The street lights were on and I was pushing a baby’s stroller. Tammy held the baby, and my travellers backpack ripping at the seams with the weight of a few cameras sat inside the padded seat. Space was tight in Hong Kong, so we decided to take the carriage off Tammy’s hands for the night and meet up again with it tomorrow. Tonight I was sleeping in Mrs. Au’s flat, she had a bed at a friend’s place and it was settled. I could have stayed at a backpackers and I had been planning on it but Tammy, Junie, and Mrs. Au shuffled around. I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Hong Kong.

I never imagined I would end up here.

Ms. Au, the baby stroller and I turned at the metro, and together we made the short trek due to the modern subway system across the city and home.

Home in Hong Kong.

What is it about the city? Mrs. Au had lived across the world, Canada, England, and still every few years ended back up in Hong Kong. She smiled as she talked about it, the old and the new, the ferries, and the nature just outside the city centre. She talked about the crossing of cultures, british colonization, the intense mentality of business there. I asked questions, a lot of them, and that night on the street, I remember so clearly Mrs. Au unlocking the front steel gate to her flat and saying,

“You know on a good day Taylor, Hong Kong is where the east meets the west and on other days, its neither here or nor there.”

I wrote it in my journal that night, and have since thought about it, about Hong Kong, about the mountains, the skyline, the men on the street with newspapers flying loosely around their feet, and clenched in their hands a ticket for the horse races. I think about the foreign nannies, their day off spent together in a park on our side of town. I think about that cupcake Tammy and I missioned for, walking across the narrow sidewalks with Junie sleeping away reminiscing about what had been three years before on another continent foreign to both of us. We had met in Uganda in September 2008, and now visiting in the most densely populated metropolis in the world Africa feels like a lifetime away. We are joking about the crazy Matatu drivers and the Thanksgiving meal we made with chickens we’d killed the morning before the feast, it feels so long ago and I’ve been pretty much a vegetarian since.

Hong Kong is a night city, a skyline worthy of thousands of photos every night, it had fashion and highways taken on a motorcycle at monster speeds, a city block devoted to flowers. It is a city of public politeness, and cemetery squatters, where the best transit system in the world pumps millions through the city like the artery of a fit man in his prime.

It was a city of gracious hosts that showed me an incredibly romantic, surreal place of duplicities.

Where the east meets the west but neither here nor there.

capture-time-070 travel photographer hong kong flower market photo travel photography hong kong bird market mountains in hong kong sky scapers hong kong travel photography flags of hong kong at night


Angkor Wat Temples, Siem Reap Cambodia




We were up early to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat but our Tuk Tuk broke down and we only made it there for the afternoon. It was hot and exhausting, and the redeeming ice cream cone as the sun began to set as the best thing I ever tasted.

Pai Thailand | New Country for Old Friends

illustrated map of pay thailand

I met Alex when I was eleven. She was twelve and so much cooler. We raced down a dirt road and we were instant friends.


I’ll never forget that night in Thailand when we met again.


The night market was being packed up by sticker vendors and pad thai street chefs. Slowly the crowd had moved from meandering the alleyways of Pai to the Thai pubs playing British soccer games. I was headed back to my hut in the rice paddies when mid sentence, mid step, I heard a voice that stopped me dead in my tracks. I swung around and behind me Alex Meeker and her three friends sat beer deep in a pitcher. What ensued next could have been out of an episode of girls, there was hugs, and high pitched voices, and a general air of disbelief that miles and miles away from home there was a familiar face in the crowd.


I hadn’t seen Alex in three or four years, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.


My visa was expiring the next day, and we made plans to meet the next week in Cambodia.


New country for old friends.


[Early March 2012]

Cambodia New Favourites-4

Hong Kong MRT Map

Hong Kong Subway System Map - Map Collection

The bathroom had a line, like all women’s bathrooms across the world I knew it would have a line… and Hong Kong the most densely populated place in the world, of course, had a nice long line of well dressed business class women. I was just outside the airport at the entrance to the MTR underground subway in Hong Kong. I wasn’t waiting for a toilet, only a sink and so with my bulky camera bag on my back I shuffled to the front to wash my face.

I was meeting my friend and her new baby son, and I smelt like day old beer and a night on the airport floor. I had just flown from Bangkok to Hong Kong on a red eye, and as I stood at the sink surrounded by locals brushing my teeth, I felt for the first time in my life homeless.

My hair was disheveled; I had run into a friend on Koa San Road, the late night, sometimes precarious tourist district, as I waited for an airport shuttle bus – the impromptu reunion led to more than a few Chang beers, a little dancing, top forty music blaring, and a missed bus, which then became a later night cab ride.

At 3am only slightly intoxicated I set up a makeshift bed, and spent a few hours on the airport floor to save a few dollars. My flight took off at 6am – what feels like a decade ago, and it is now 11:00. I’ve brushed the knots out of my hair, much shorter than when I started this trip, and changed my shirt. I had only one clean option left my backpack.

I’m being stared at; I’m a foot taller, and a hell of a lot blonder than any one else in the bathroom. I feel self conscious about my loose travel clothing, and the fact that I am brushing my teeth in a public washroom.  Hong Kong is business and I am out of place, I feel like I don’t belong this late in the morning, still foggy.

I often ask myself how did I end up here? Its not that I didn’t make a conscious choice to go to Hong Kong but when I left home three months ago I could have never predicted my current situation.

Yet here I was, about to ride in a tube underwater to an island filled to the brim with people. A tube that moves millions of people around everyday and all I could think about was my hangover and the new conversion rate I was still trying to grasp. I put some makeup on covering up the bags under my eyes from the lack of sleep, stared at myself in the mirror, and then conspicuously I watched the people milling around me. It is a habit of a photographer people watching, culture watching. Then with a quick look at my watch, I walk out of the bathroom, no longer homeless but with places to be and a friend to meet.

[adapted from March 2012]