Winter Landscape at Greenwich Park, London


On 5 February 2012, we had the first snow in this winter, and couldn’t help but stroll around the snow-covered Greenwich Park to make the most out of the day. Not surprisingly, the park was full of couples holding each other in arms and quite naturally, families with kids whose parents towed a sledge, eagerly approaching slopes for the snow-ride. Approaching the Royal Observatory from a distance, we came across with this magnificent scene with people dotted around in all forms and posture, enjoying this snowy Sunday afternoon with their loved ones. It reminded me of a scene from a painting that I must have seen in the past – I couldn’t figure out which one it was, but later, I realise this sense of ‘deja vu’ would have originated from having come across with one of Brueghel’s winter landscape paintings. In any case, it was one of the most beautiful days that will be engrained in my heart for many years to come.

ps. Another friend of mine pointed out Lowry’s paintings, which also presented some striking resemblance to how the people are pictured.

From Apple IIe to MacBook Air: Steve Jobs, RIP

My first computer ever was an Apple IIe, which came with a shiny rainbow-coloured apple logo. It was one of the latest models at the time, and I think it came into my possession sometime in 1985 or perhaps in 1986. I was giving a lot of thoughts whether I should get an Apple or an IBM PC, but then settled down with an Apple. Thought it was fancier at the time, and maybe the apple logo appealed to me. The computer was assembled in Singapore, if my memory was correct, and it was a beauty when it first came out of the packaging box. Apple IIe’s picture here: I believe I still have it somewhere in my parents’ house, stored in its original box, constantly objecting profusely to my mother’s occasional request to throw it away to secure extra storage space.

After a long period of using Windows PC in the 1990s and 2000s, I’ve finally made a full return to Apple, first with a mac mini and then with a MacBook Air. I somewhat feel strange to find the apple logo staring at me once again, though it no longer has its original rainbow appearance any more. Let’s see how this new MBA would treat me in the next few years. For the moment, somehow the first statement on Page 1 of MBA user guide brings some of the old memories back: “you and your MacBook were made for each other”.

ps. After having written the above piece at the end of September, in the early morning of 6th October 2011, I woke up, checked the news and found out Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, has passed away. He’s lived the life to the fullest, and will be remembered by many. May he rest in piece.

En route to where?


I suppose coming to office during the school closure period has taken a toll on me. Or, it’s about time to go on a journey again?

Living on the boundary has been a way of life for some time now. It’s like being in an interstitial space without knowing which direction the next move will take me to. Perhaps more like being in a constant flux of time and space, dropping out and thrown into by some force known as fate.

What will you do? What can you do? Just live the present. You will know where you are when you reach there, but is it so important?

First snow in London this winter


Yesterday I woke up with a pleasant surprise – the first snow this winter. It was the first one to have since moving to this neighbourhood, and the view from my flat towards the north was great. Trains were delayed but still running thankfully, but in the evening, no home-bound services. There were no trains this morning either from my station to central London. Buses and tubes were running, and I wasn’t sure whether I should still feel relieved.

Hong Kong, The Peak and childhood memory

To me, Hong Kong is like my first love. It’s a city where I used to live for some years when I was young. Although Hong Kong has changed substantially since then, it still retains areas that are associated with my childhood memory. For instance, whenever I approach Hong Kong University campus on Bonham Road, I am always relieved to find the old apartment block still standing. It may get demolished and reconstructed someday, but for the moment, it is still there and I am happy for it. When I approach the Star Ferry on the Kowloon side, I still walk by the shopping mall that used to house my favourite electronic games centre. The Hong Kong side Star Ferry pier  no longer retains its previous look, as the original one was demolished and relocated due to land reclamation. I think it was Hutchison House that used to have a bookshop where I used to buy my beloved SF novels such as those by Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke. At that time, it was one of the few English bookshop that sold SF novels from these authors. Asimov’s robot series was my biggest collection item at the time.

Retired old Peak Tram

Retired old Peak Tram

Since mid-2000, I seem to come back to Hong Kong at least once a year. Somehow, I haven’t had a chance to re-visit The Victoria Peak, and today, I finally made my way. My choice of transport was the Peak Tram, which always gave me the joy of riding in the old days. Today’s tram is not the same as what it used be in the 1980s, but the steep track is not replaceable. The most disappointing part was the Peak Tower, which has become too commercial and does not retain the old shape and memory any more. In front of the Peak Tower stands the old tram. I am not completely sure, but I think this is the same model as the one I used to ride. It was kind of funny to see this on exhibition in this way, as if my childhood is fossilised in time together with the retirement of this tram. 


Peak Path

Peak Path

It was already 6 pm when I arrived at the Peak, and it was getting dark. My main aim was to be able to take a short walk along the Peak Path, which was to some extent a ritual for me. My family visited the Victoria Peak frequently when we lived in Hong Kong. On Sundays, we often came here for a walk along the Peak Path, which took a little more than an hour to complete one round (or may be longer), and had late lunch before heading back home. The old Peak Tower used to have a nice restaurant that commanded a very nice view of Hong Kong.

While the Peak Tower and the surrounding area have changed substantially, it is relieving to find that the Peak Path is there without many changes. It is a lovely place, a good one for both couples and families. I suppose people have different preferences regarding which point of entry they would choose to start the journey. I think my family always used to take our walk in an anti-clockwise manner, enjoying the view of Hong Kong downtown first and then the remaining part of Hong Kong as we moved away from the Peak Tower. A bit difficult to explain, but you will see what I mean when you visit this place…


Hong Kong seen from the Victoria Peak

Hong Kong seen from the Victoria Peak

Luckily, before it got too dark, I was able to take a few pictures of Hong Kong island and Kowloon. Obviously, there are quite a few high-rises, which were constructed after I left Hong Kong, but the overall impression that Hong Kong presents has not changed until now. The high density of buildings is simply amazing and breathtaking. Due to the continuous land reclamation, the surface area of Hong Kong island and Kowloon seen in this picture must have increased accordingly. I must look up my old albums when I get a chance to visit Korea next time, and see if I can find any picture of 1980s Hong Kong.

I am leaving Hong Kong tomorrow, but I am sure I will be longing for my return.

From Guangzhou to Hong Kong: Guangzhou students’ views on the Asian Games

My official schedule in Guangzhou is over as of tonight. Just came back from giving a guest lecture on Olympic Games and Mega-event Politics to the students at the School of Urban Planning and Geography.

When I gave talk on the same topic to some students at the School of Government a few days ago, I did an impromptu survey on how many of the people in the lecture room were in favour and against having the Asian Games in Guangzhou. About 30% of the attendants said they were against it, and 15% in favour. Tonight, I did a similar survey, and about 15% said they were in favour of it, while 5% said they were against it. Well, it’s difficult to know the full picture until one finds out what the silent mass really thought about the issue, but it was an interesting exercise. I wonder if there was any difference in the disciplinary approach that produced contrasting results…

I will be off to Hong Kong on Wednesday, the mid-autumn festival day when families get together in South Korea, and lantern festival takes place in Hong Kong. As was the case last year, again mid-autumn festival while being on the road…