Hong Kong I: visiting an old hang-out

Hello again! I’m finally back!
A story follows the title – I used to spend a significant amount of time in Hong Kong and suddenly things changed. It has been 4 years since my last trip to the bustling city. Everything used to be so mundane, so common, so uncool.
This time, I’d learnt that photos could be beneficial for me to remember what used to be and what not. I’d decided to take a few shots of places we’d often taken for granted.

Hong Kong has a superb public transport system. The airport provides an “Airport Express” that leads you into the inner islands of the country (i.e. Kowloon or Hong Kong island), all at only HKD100. Stopping at these stations, you can either hop onto their main trains or if you are a visitor staying at a hotel, bus shuttles are also available, often for free.

The Hong Kong train system is one thing to rave about. High speed public transport at extremely cheap fares can bring you across the city in less than an hour. Superb ventilation and ease of transfer makes this the best mode of travelling. Trains come in intervals of 2 – 3 minutes. Here’s a picture of a less-populated train station – far out from the town centre. This isn’t representative of the advanced stations they have around the main city area, but even as I abandon the throngs of people in the city-centre, the transport system is still as amazing as ever!

A short walk out of the station, I passed by a Che Kung Temple. I started to realise the impeccable directional signages they’ve put up to lead anyone from a train station to their desired location. One could almost never get lost in the country. A quick read of the history showed that this temple was built in honour of a military commander from the Song dynasty. Legend has it that an epidemic was halted upon completion of this temple. Some also believe that spinning a golden fan-blade in the altar can bring good luck.

The beauty of Hong Kong is in its ability to strike a balance between its advancements as a financial hub and retaining the traditional elements of its culture – all within the vast mountains and natural landscape. Definitely worth at least a 4-day visit instead of just stopping by for flight transit!

Russia XI: Moscow Metro Part 3

Today we discuss a grand metro station that boasts heavy Baroque influence, elaborate chandeliers and intricate political medallions decorating its yellow ceilings – Komsomolskaya metro. Komsomolskaya lies on the Koltsevaya Line; this line is dedicated to the record of victory over Nazi Germany and post-war labour efforts. Yet Komsomolskaya stands out from the overarching themes with its main focus as a speech conducted by Lenin. Regardless of political views, one will be able to feel strongly for the struggle for independence portrayed in this station that looks more like a museum than a subway (or more like a museum than a museum does!) There’s more to the station than I can share here – you might want to walk through a passage (much like a bunker!) to an adjacent station (on Sokolnicheskaya line), and emerge in a modern-looking station starkly different from Komsomolskaya station! Make sure you’ll spend some time visiting the museum stations of Russia on your visit!

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Note: Some other stations of interest are:
Novoslobodskaya Metro Station (stained glass decorations)
– Mayakovskaya Metro Station (strong pre-WWII influence, brightly lit and wide)
– Elektrozavodskaya Metro Station (homage to pioneers of electricity and ceilings are lined with millions of lights)
– Prospekt Mira Metro Station (agricultural theme and situated near the Botanical Gardens)

Russia X: Moscow Metro Part 2

As a natural progression from the last mention of Arbat Street, I guess it wouldn’t come as a surprise for my discussion of Arbatskaya – the second largest (and deepest) metro station in Moscow, initially built as a bunker. Arbatskaya station almost has no corners – not literally – the walkways feature ornate white ceilings and arches with simple “Stalinist baroque” designs. Interestingly there are two stations of the same name on different lines. These ones in the photos are of the newer Arbatskaya on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line (the other is on Filyovskaya Line). If anyone knows the history behind this dual-naming situation, please share it with us!!

Another station worthy of mention would be the Ploshchad Revolyutsii Metro Station. The name would translate to “Revolution Square”, and this station is one not to be missed. Starkly different in style from Arbatskaya and Kievskaya that appear more like a heritage tour in a castle, Ploshchad Revolyutsii station looks like a modern museum. It is decorated with colourful marble and 76 bronze statues, depicting the people of Russia, flanking the arches. Some say that rubbing the nose of the bronze dog statue would bring good luck. I guess this gives me good reason to head back to Moscow!

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Next post – a station with yellow ceilings, intricate mosaics of military and history, one that is regarded as the most beautiful of Moscow …

Russia IX: Moscow Metro Part 1

It all seems mysterious and it doesn’t sound like the most luxurious way to travel. But when in Moscow – take the Metro. The luxury isn’t in the comfort of the seats or transport system – it’s in what you see. There’s so much cultural influence and history in each station I’ll almost like to write a book about it. Isn’t it amazing how each stop you make will bring different flavours of Russia’s history to life?

With insufficient knowledge of every station, history and art at this stage, allow me to share some pictures I took at the various stations. Let’s start with Kievskaya Metro Station. (The first picture isn’t Kievskaya, FYI.)
Kievskaya, with a strong baroque style, boasts colourful mosaics that line the ceilings and a grand mural at the end of the subway depicting civil scenes from Soviet history. Each mosaic portrays scenes of daily life in the USSR. This station was the first Moscow subway station to be completed after Stalin’s reign and was named after the capital of Ukraine.

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More to come in the next posts soon!