Tag Archives: calligraphy

Day 8: 17 January, HK

This is one of the loneliest days. I was hoping that KK might have been able to make some time at the weekend, but there are no messages. I don’t feel like doing much, but can’t sit indoors. I decide to see what’s at the western end of the tram line in Kennedy Town. Victoria Park is empty. It is cordoned off as preparations are being made for an event for the Spring Festival. The Filipino maids who usually gather there on their day off are clustered on the pavement and under the flyover. Admiralty looks busy with shoppers. Kennedy town is definitely an end of the line place. Quiet, seems to be home to quite a lot of Gweilos and full of western restaurants, with western prices. I have a late breakfast of various breads sitting on a bench looking over the harbour. Feeling a bit empty and listless. There is nothing to see here and so I walk East along the great named Belcher’s Street then Queens Rd West. Here I come across a trestle table stall where members of the Democratic Party are writing pithy new year’s wishes on slips of red paper. Passers-by queue up to get their carefully calligraphed slogans to hang on their doors.


In getting off the main road I end up under the dramatic sweeping flyover that carves a swathe over Hill Street.

I climb some steps which take me up to Pok Fu Lam Rd. Ahead of me is an impressive collection of towers and sky bridges: this is HKU. Curious I cross a bridge and am among the university buildings under one of the towers. It’s a ghost town, but everywhere seems accessible and no security guards, barriers etc.  A small group of men are practising some form of self defence.


I pass them and climb 10 (?) flights of steps on the outside of the Biological Science Building. I’m very high up as the tower is pierced on the flank of a hill. The view looks over the northern towers of Sai Wan and beyond to Kowloon. Beneath me are several smaller, older, colonial-era buildings. One of these is the main building of HKU, which I visit later. It has the feel of a museum with its inner cloistered courtyard. Students have come here to take pictures of each other in graduation robes.


On Bonham street I enter Sai Ying Pun MTR by means of a lift which takes me down through the hill to underground level. I am taking the MTR to Tsim She Tsui and ISQUARE. Here I visit and Indian restaurant and sit on the terrace above Kowloon Park Drive as the sun goes down with a really good thali and lassi.

I’m tired. I can’t remember much more.


Wow what a pleasant little city, welcoming with friendly people. The ancient city is a time warp, surrounded by a 10 metre grey wall and the city itself seems perfectly preserved, yet very much a living city. Little Lloyd and lanes lined with lanterns, old people on bikes. Nice to hang out and wander. In spite of the preponderance of domestic tourists and souvenir shops, there is no tackiness.

This afternoon I found a calligraphy shop, and through broken Chinese and broken English, a 16 year old girl, and smart phone apps, we spent a jolly 30 minutes or so debating what he would write for me. Turns out that this gentleman is rather celebrated and it feels an honour to be in his presence. After agreeing on a slogan loosely translated as “life is heart” and negotiating a price, I watch him work. He carefully measures the paper then folds it into 4 to create folds delineating the space for each of the 4 characters, then folding these 4 sections diagonally to create squares with an x, in order to measure his brush strokes. He is precise, deft, firm, precise and has a harmony and strength in his brush strokes. It’s a magic moment watching him write for me.

It was then amusing watching him forming Chinese characters with finger swipes on a smart phone screen to translate into English “it’s amazing” when he was trying to explain how he liked the way the light fell on the textured paper he uses for mounting his work. I wished we had enough common language to discuss how the calligraphers art translates into finger swipes and what he thinks of that.