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"Steel Skyscrapers Reflecting Down"

Alex Ogle's Hong Kong Instagram photography

Alex Ogle

I didn't have much clue about Hong Kong before I moved here a year ago. I remember hearing a story from a colleague in DC, where I was coming from, of landing at the old airport that stuck out into the harbor. Jumbo jets would have to sharply careen over the dark moldy apartment blocks in Kowloon, green mountains rising in the background.

That was the image in my mind before I arrived. It was dramatically storming on the night my colleague had flown in, but when I landed midday last June there was a smog of yellow clouds hanging over the new airport, which sticks out into the sea from an outer island. The place didn't look nearly as photogenic as I'd hoped.

The fast train into the city passes channels of grey water and in the distance clean hive-like blocks, equivalent of suburbs if suburbs could be grimly futuristic mammoths rising out of the jungle.

In the months since then it's been great fun exploring a city I'd only thought of as being a rather small contained urban area, not the efficiently sprawling, green, and steep place that it is. Up to the New Territories you can take a subway line out to a bus on to a taxi ride then hike for hours up mountain paths, and be on beaches until dusk then take a little boat back in the dark next to a cave-lined coastline to the small fishing town where you caught the bus.

You can wander round villages on stilts reeking of the dried fish they're selling at the market; jungle hamlets wet under blue plastic tarpaulin with kids running around and old women by fires peeling things into red buckets (I never got a good pic of that); misty stone paths between cow-grazed fields; hills over reservoirs surrounded by angry monkeys to find old World War II tunnels built by the British and named after London streets you can duck through.

Some of the best times to take photos here can actually be in the middle of the day. Unlike other places when the sun is high and can make for bad light, in Hong Kong on a bright day the sun is hitting huge glass and steel skyscrapers reflecting down on otherwise murky alleyways and back streets. 

There are so many places to stumble on in Hong Kong with something interesting happening. It's so tough to not take hundreds and hundreds of pictures whenever you leave your house, I’m not sure why you wouldn't.