Adventures Abroad: Preoccupied with Occupy Hong Kong

It just so happened that I was flying to Hong Kong at a time when the former British colony was undergoing something nobody had ever expected to see on its streets. Instead of the usual commercial and financial hustle and bustle, its major streets on districts like Causeway Bay, Admiralty, Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui were cordoned off and barricaded because the Chinese government had a different understanding of how elections should be. 


occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
I had a front-row seat to history unfolding before the world that started two weeks before my arrival. Whatever my agenda for coming to Hong Kong was, the Umbrella Revolution took precedence as it occupied most of my time there. These are what my viewfinder saw...

Signs

Signs are a staple in any rally but some are more creative than others and very reflective of the generation to which it belongs.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Just to be clear: I did not put that up.

Symbols

The protests were heavy on symbolisms to carry their message across. 

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The tide of public (and perhaps) world opinion turned against the Chinese government when the police used pepper spray and tear gas on the demonstrators. One self-proclaimed neutral local regrets that action saying, “The protesters were just sitting. They were not doing anything violent. So why the need?”

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Security

Did I feel safe when I was there? Yes, because Hong Kong is generally a safe place but of course, I was still careful as one can’t tell when emotions are high. That’s why I only went out during day time between 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. The only time I went out at dark was 7 p.m. One protestor even warned me about cases of groping.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
I did ask the police if there are places where I am not allowed and they basically told me to roam free to do whatever I want and go wherever I want.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Basic services were either diverted or temporarily suspended for security’s sake. Hong Kong’s famous trams were haphazard in their services. I usually take them when I am in Hong Kong as I enjoy seeing the sights but they were mostly nowhere to be found. On my first day, I felt stupid for waiting at the stop for several minutes all by my lonely self until the realization dawned on me.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Students et al

If we were to believe the media, we would think that only students were angry at the Chinese government. In fact, the people I met were mostly professionals.  

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

Support services

I think this is what makes the protests human. There were activities that made it possible for people to still go on with their lives although some businesses were very much stifled.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
There was even a class session. I tried to find out if the one conducting the class was a professional teacher but his listeners just shrugged their shoulders with a sheepish smile. 

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The few students that I was able to talk to said they’re not marked as absent in school as there are classes where attendance is not mandatory. They can still submit their assignment and they do it online.
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This isn't trash but rather donated materials for anyone in need like umbrellas, tents, food, medicine, etc. with no questions asked. I was offered free breakfast while I was mingling with them. 


occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Don’t feel sorry for these chains as only their view was blocked. It was still business as usual for them.

Sightseers and selfies

When I went there with my camera, at first, I felt unsure. I didn’t want to come off as disrespectful of what they were fighting for. But there were people doing selfies so the concern disappeared as I documented the struggle as well as tried to have some selfies of my own. One refused to take my photo saying he was busy although he was just standing, doing nothing. His video camera attached to a tripod was not even turned on. Hope his battery died before he could turn it on.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Sightseers and onlookers could also show their support by leaving notes that were provided for everyone to use.

occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
occupy hong kong
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
But this guy didn’t bother to pick up any writing instrument to show his support. He just made a literal shout-out to the cheers of the protesters. 

-THE PARANOID TRAVELER

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