ding a ling!

hk's subway system is one of the most efficient in the world, and its fiery red taxis are easily available any time of the day or night - both of which bode well for the visitor finding his or her footing in the rapidly-paced new york of the east. for locals, there is another mode of transport that is just as essential and sometimes, even more effective than its reliable train service: the electric trams that trundle through some of the busiest, most traffic-clogged parts of the city.

known fondly as ding ding for the sound of its bell, it's a small but effective network of double decker bus-meets-train that winds and criss-crosses its way around. at times, they run parallel to street markets, often snaking within arm's reach of opposing trams while from the upper decks, they afford elevated views of hong kong's busy, busy streets. their presence is ubiquitous and prominent, made more so by their vibrant shells - originally dark green - that are veritable canvases for international retail brands to advertise pricey goods.

it's often a tight squeeze inside the ding ding, with more standing room than seats but the commuter turnover is fast as each tram makes numerous stops along its designated route, dropping off and picking up passengers at a fairly balanced rate.

we hopped aboard one from central all the way to shau kei wan, and disembarked to a bustling evening market that's as local as one can hope for.

enjoy the ride.

ding front
ding embarking
ding full exterior
ding crossing
ding back window
ding sign
ding inside
ding silhouette
ding ling
ding turnstiles
ding parked

visit the shau kei wan market album here

bazaar bustle: shau kei wan market

this is a corner of hong kong that visitors rarely venture to, but on a ding ding ride-around (see photos here) one balmy spring evening, we disembarked along with the remaining passengers when the trusty tram pulled to a stop in between blocks of nondescript old buildings in shau kei wan. a few steps away, under colourful tarpaulin covers and the flares of yellow light bulbs, we joined the throng of residents as they trawled and shopped their way through the street market.

this is hong kong, real and raw.

skw overview
skw yellow stall
skw side green
skw meat stall
skw baskets
skw chinese signboards
skw basketman
skw hori overview
skw red lights
skw chickens
skw foam lids
skw btwn stalls
skw butcher


faces of nepal

rebuild

click here if you'd like to donate to nepal


her mountains are breathtaking - from the picturesque annapurna range that draws trekkers by the plane loads each year to the world's highest summit that crowns the himalayan range. her unesco-listed temples are steeped in significance, their ornate architecture a feast for the eyes and a dream for photographers. in every city, you can feel the pulse beating energetically around the respective durbar squares. indeed, nepal is a land that is blessed with natural, historical and spiritual bounties although contrastingly, the basic necessities of modern societies such as water, electricity and education are still glaringly lacking in many parts of the country.

a visitor to nepal - whether it's the adrenaline seeker aiming to scale wondrous heights, the devout pilgrim searching for worldly truths or simply a travel enthusiast wanting to explore new territories - will find that this little jewel in the indian subcontinent brims with a multitude of offerings just as its streets burst with colours, sounds and sights. above all that nepal presents to her visitors, it is her people who often strike the deepest chords with their warm hospitality, simple joys, smiles that never end and heartfelt greetings of 'namaste' presented with hands clasped as if in prayer.

from dusty kathmandu to bustling thamel, to blockish kirtipur and its surrounding villages, to laidback pokhara and the more modern lalitpur, we met nepalese of all ages, backgrounds and inclinations and we never met a nepalese who didn't return our greetings or said no to our request for photos. children ran up to us and asked to be photographed; sometimes, they also asked for money but were as happy when we pressed chocolates into their palms. the ladies would instinctively adjust their vibrant outfits and straighten their posture. some men puffed up their chests, others played it cool. the elderly were usually highly amused that someone would want to photograph them and played along sportingly if awkwardly at times, flashing megawatt smiles at us - in person, though some would freeze when the cameras were pointed at them. 

these here are some of the portraits we managed to capture on a 14-day trip, the beautiful faces of beautiful nepalese we had the pleasure and honour of crossing paths with. we didn't always find out their stories (those we did, we've shared in the captions underneath their photos) but we will never forget their smiles. namaste.

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we came across this couple during a village tour in kirtipur; the gentleman is 93 years old this year while his wife is 90 but you wouldn't have guessed from their steady walks and energetic demeanour.

we came across this couple during a village tour in kirtipur; the gentleman is 93 years old this year while his wife is 90 but you wouldn't have guessed from their steady walks and energetic demeanour.

separating rice husks; like most asian countries, rice is a staple in nepal

separating rice husks; like most asian countries, rice is a staple in nepal

we met her in the wheat fields of langol village in kirtipur

we met her in the wheat fields of langol village in kirtipur

returning home after a day of festivities on the nepali national new year's day, all pretty in pink

returning home after a day of festivities on the nepali national new year's day, all pretty in pink

our village tour guide, nama, took us to his old house which his father built and where his mother (pictured here) still lives. the house is slated to be torn down later this year and she will move in with nama and his wife and children.

our village tour guide, nama, took us to his old house which his father built and where his mother (pictured here) still lives. the house is slated to be torn down later this year and she will move in with nama and his wife and children.

in nepal, it is common for brands to advertise by buying up the facades of shops and painting them in their corporate colours, complete with logos of course

in nepal, it is common for brands to advertise by buying up the facades of shops and painting them in their corporate colours, complete with logos of course

this lady gave the biggest squeal of delight when we showed her the photos we took of her, although she seemed to have a hard time smiling when the lens zoomed in!

this lady gave the biggest squeal of delight when we showed her the photos we took of her, although she seemed to have a hard time smiling when the lens zoomed in!

it is her people who often strike the deepest chords with their warm hospitality, simple joys, smiles that never end and heartfelt greetings of ‘namaste’ presented with hands clasped as if in prayer
we spotted her from across the road, splashing water to reduce the dust on her sidewalk. when she saw us shooting her, she stopped and posed until we were done.

we spotted her from across the road, splashing water to reduce the dust on her sidewalk. when she saw us shooting her, she stopped and posed until we were done.

we assumed they were family as they were all clad in the same cheerful orange fabric but these ladies are actually neighbours who just chose to dress alike on the nepali national new year's day

we assumed they were family as they were all clad in the same cheerful orange fabric but these ladies are actually neighbours who just chose to dress alike on the nepali national new year's day

a guard at kathmandu durbar square

a guard at kathmandu durbar square

a local policeman working it - excuse us, are you a model?

a local policeman working it - excuse us, are you a model?

these young siblings asked for a photo and then asked us where we're from, in flawless english. they know malaysia because their second brother is working there.

these young siblings asked for a photo and then asked us where we're from, in flawless english. they know malaysia because their second brother is working there.

market under the trees

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the butchers are at one end, across from the breakfast stalls. a variety of makeshift stalls selling fresh vegetables and fruits line the main road on both sides. in between sundry kiosks, a newsstand and hot food hawkers. a young indian man hawks his puttu mayam from the back of his bicycle. at another corner, a friendly kakak does brisk business of her nasi lemak and karipap, in between a fruits seller and a peddler selling traditional indian beauty products.

This is Setapak Jaya market and it is certainly a rarity: A combination of wet and dry market cum food court laid out in the open along a tree-lined street. For over three decades now, it has served the residents of the housing estate just adjacent to it as well as those around the Setapak, Seri Rampai and Wangsa Maju areas very well.

The vendors start setting up around 7am each morning and about an hour later it all shifts into full throttle as shoppers drag their trolley baskets through the stalls to stock up on their household needs. their baskets filled and every box in their shopping list ticket, they settle down for breakfast. chinese noodles, economy rice, roti canai...

the stalls are built under and around the trees, which provides natural shade and sometimes, a place to tack a nail and hang an essential. walk through this outdoor bazaar and soak in the vibes of a simple life where basic needs are easily and cheerfully met.

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setapak jaya market by the lake, around the corner from royal selangor visitor centre (4 jalan usahawan 6, setapak jaya, kl gps 3.196, 101.724)

directions with the royal selangor visitor centre on your right, at the traffic lights, turn right. at the next traffic lights, you will see a lake on your right. turn right again. the market is stretched out towards the right, at the end of this road. you will see a new food court on your right just before you hit the market - start looking for parking.