Macau, Hong Kong, a Portrait, and a Holiday!
Yes I know, it has been too long since my last blog. I do try I assure you but somehow or other I just get caught up with work and travel (which is often to do with work), so work then really. I thought I would make up for it with a photo heavy blog which covers pretty much what I did in the summer. I'll talk about little break to Wales with Mrs. L, on which we were joined by a couple of good friends for the first few days which was lovely. I had my first visit to Macau, and was once again back in Hong Kong where I made so me good contacts. These contacts led to work and more portraits for my series "The Collectors". I have already laid the foundation for my next blog, which takes a look back over my first year in Asia. I must say it is a good practice to do that as it would appear that I have done pretty well and hope very much to keep pushing on. However I am not going to talk more about that now, this blog is, as the title would suggest about Macau, Hong Kong, a portrait and a holiday, enjoy this...
Mrs L and I have a little game going on, it is to do with who has been to the most countries. My trip to Japan for National Geographic Traveller UK saw me take the lead by one country. When she asked would I like to go to Macau it was a no brainer. Firstly I had never been there before and secondly it would increase my lead...it'd be silly not too right? So off we went....
Man this place reminded me of Vegas at first, you could so easily get to one of the larger hotels and never have to leave for your entire visit. We stayed an the Sheraton, it had everything you could ask for. A connection to a shopping mall with food hall, a gym, two areas of pool facilities, each with multiple pools, multiple restaurants and of course a large gaming floor. The main game in Macau is baccarat, it is fast, fairly simple and makes the house a fortune from the millions of punters that flock in from mainland China and around the world every year. We looked, but I know better than to sit and play, plus I am no where near a position to throw my money at the turn of a card, not yet anyway.
The view from the one of the pools, ok I was in an area I shouldn't have been, and climbed out onto a glass roof, but if that's what it takes to get the shot, then I am going there.
Not really feeling the need to just hang around the hotel and lounge (I rarely do), I decided to make a walk to a beach. In all I walked about 20km as the sun rose, it was humid, I was hot and with all my kit to carry it was hard work. I am always glad to make the effort, yes the dawn could have been nicer and the beach more beautiful, but it was just lovely to hear the jungle waking up, the waves splashing and see the sand with no foot prints.
I say no footprints, there were these....
As I walked along the beach, I saw a pile of rocks and concrete blocks, it was only when I was on top of these I became aware that I was being watched. At first it was just a couple, but soon I realised I was standing on the local stray dogs den. There were a lot of them, and I was in their territory and no messing, it was tense. I had my tripod in my hand and was about ready to go if they attacked, the barking and growling had started as the pack woke up and became alert to my presence. I guess there were probably 10-15 of them, enough to make me concentrate at least. I thought, I have to do something, so I went on the offensive. They growled and but shouted louder and advanced on them. To my relief it worked and they backed off, most went back into the gaps under the rocks, with just a couple standing guard and keeping an eye on me. I had made it clear not to mess with me and after a while they realised I wasn't there to bother them and began to ignore me completely....Phew.
The dogs weren't the only strays on the beach, still at least there are facilities...
In the evening, I suggested that Mrs. L and I head into the older part of town. I wanted to see the old lighthouse and we had been told by a very helpful concierge of a good Portuguese restaurant. The Portuguese had occupied Macau, and the influence is all around in the older parts. The evening sees all sorts of people taking exercise around the old light house, there aren't too many hills around Macau so the view from this one is well worth the little effort to walk up to it.
View from the lighthouse hill over Macau...
We walked around to try and find out how to get into the Lighthouse, it appeared to be closed. I saw a security guard and asked him how to get in, he confirmed it was closed. To our surprise he then said "hold on" and came down to the door. He was about to go to get his dinner and to our delight said we could come in and hang around for a bit while he ate. What a great security guard, we were over the moon to have the place to ourselves, what a top lad.
The Old Lighthouse...
View over Macau with the Lisboa standing golden and to the left the A.J.Hackett Macau Tower, home of the worlds highest bungee jump, and yes I am going to have a go next time I am there.
The Old Lighthouse, and below another view over Macau, this time showing some of the older areas...
Dinner was lovely, the advice was good. The restaurant is owned and run by an ex Portuguese Naval Chef. There is a good wine selection, the food is well cooked and honest. No it isn't a Michelin stared experience, but I assure you it is worth a visit. Oh yeah, almost forgot the place is; O Santos, on Rua de Cunha, No. 20, Taipa Island.
The evening was warm, so we chose to walk back to the hotel, it was a lovely way to spend the last night in Macau, I look forward to seeing more of it soon.
And so back to Hong Kong, and oh my gosh it was hot. I will be honest and say that on this trip to Hong Kong, I found it pretty heavy going. The heat was intense, teamed with the busy streets, it was hard work. I had picked up a copy of a magazine and made an appointment for a meeting with the publishers, it went well and has already led to one job, a portrait shoot. Hopefully there will be more to come, but again I am not going to write about that this time. For now I will just caption these and let you enjoy them....
Out on the streets in Hong Kong.
Locals lunch just off Stanley Street.
Stall holders near Stanley Street.
When the sun is fierce, it's is wise to bring your own shade.
I don't think I will ever get bored of the views over Kowloon and Hong Kong.
Feeling nosy whilst staying at a friends apartment on Hollywood Road.
Hong Kong can feel like a labyrinthine from time to time.
Dawn over Mongkok.
The view from Cathay Pacific lounge of Hong Kong airport whilst waiting for my plane home.
Not long after I moved to Taiwan, I met a writer named Joe Henley. Not only is Joe a writer, he is a talented musician, and sings with a few punk bands, one of which is called Revilement. Joe is a cool guy and pretty driven, he recently released his first novel, "Sons of the Republic". I had previously photographed Joe for my Collectors Series as he has a love of vinyl, not surprising really with his musical links. I was more than happy when Joe contacted me and commissioned a portrait shoot for his book jacket. The book is a good read, he is already well on the way to completing his second novel and is currently writing for a T.V series, among other things. You can get your hands on a copy of his first book here: Sons of the Republic by J.W. Henley, I have been reading it, and can say it is pretty good, so check it out.
It had been a pretty busy spell, what with the pool parties, shooting portraits both commissioned and personal. Making promotional photographs for bands and all the usual running around I have to do. It was music to my ears when Mrs. L suggested we take a week off in Wales. It's a bit odd if you think about it, when I was in the UK all the time, I wanted to go somewhere warm and exotic. Now I want to go to somewhere remote, possibly cold and wet and in the UK. I am actually not sure how Wales has got the reputation for being wet, I have been many times and can say, in my experience it hasn't really rained much, if at all while I have been there.
We had a wonderful week, great food, good walks, log fires, country darkness and plenty of fresh air. Mrs. L caught her first trout, a wild brown on the Usk. Our guide Kim Tribe, was excellent, he supplied us with all the gear and plenty of patience (Find Kim here: Fly Fishing Wales). I said to him that it was more important to me that the wife caught her first trout than it was for me to catch. I was gutted when I missed my only real take of the day, but over the moon for Mrs. L when she managed to hook into a fine fish all on her own, and land it. It had been a warm summer with little rain and the river was on it's bones, tough conditions indeed. They do say that the ladies make the better fly fishermen, or should that be fisherwomen? ether way, she rocked it, and looked great in waders too.
I also managed to get her out pre-dawn and off into the chill morning as the sun rose over the Wye Valley. I will leave you with the shots from that morning, just before I go though don't foget your comments are important to me and welcomed. It would be great if you can take a second and share this far and wide, I want everyone to see it. Next time, as mentioned at the start I will be looking back over my first year, it will be a good one I promise, so until then, contact and follow me via the links. Thank you as ever for all the support, for taking the time to look at my work and read my waffle if you do.
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Sunrise over the Wye Valley.