Air Pollution Portraits, Hong Kong

The following Hong Kong people are wearing a gas mask to protest the high levels of roadside air pollution in the city.

- School girl, Causeway Bay.

- Bus stop girl, Causeway Bay.

- Street sweeper, Causeway Bay.

- 'Beat the tiger' porpor, Causeway Bay.

- Construction worker, Wan Chai.

- Newspaper vendor, Wan Chai.

- Newspaper vendor, Wan Chai.

Despite the clean southwesterly blowing right now, down in the canyons of Wan Chai and Causeway Bay the air is as filthy as ever.

These photos are part of a larger set that I took today for the Hong Kong Clean Air Network.

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

The Hong Kong-Shenzhen Border Area: As Seen From The Air...

Yesterday I did a chopper shoot for a corporate client.

At one stage I flew eastwards along the dotted line of the helicopter GPS, between Hong Kong and Chinese airspaces.

In the background of the above image, the sprawling metropolis of Shenzhen. And in the foreground, on this side of the Shenzhen River, the rural northern New Territories of Hong Kong.

At the centre of this image, in between the two hills, can be seen the Lo Wu border crossing. You can spot the MTR railway track snaking up to it along the river from the right.

And where's this? Up the Amazon?

The Congo River? No, it's the Mai Po Marshes WWF bird sanctuary.

And here's the Shenzhen Bay Bridge, complete with oyster farms in the foreground. Shenzhen on the left, Hong Kong on the right.

On the whole, the weather was great. A blue sky, with fluffy white clouds, and a nice clean south westerly wind blowing in off the sea. No pollution at all.

All these photos were shot in RAW, a third of a stop under, with a polarizer and a very, very, clean CMOS. No Photoshop necessary!

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

Workers In China Seek Better Conditions, More Pay...

Factory workers in Foshan, China, want a pay hike.

The question is, will the recent wave of suicides at Foxconn, and the strikes at Honda and Toyota spread to other factories in China? Is the Chinese economy about to be hit where it hurts? And, not wishing to be too esoteric here, but aren't the unions in China supposed to be on the side of the workers?

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG FOSHAN CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

Final Musings From Pattaya, Thailand...

Everyone knows Pattaya is famous for this...

A lesser known side to the seedy city is 'Boyz Town'...

It's not only girls from Isan (อีสาน), the poor region in North East Thailand, that come to Pattaya to work in the sex tourism industry. Young 'boyz' sell themselves to gay sex tourists here too.

The city is also a place where children are placed at great risk. At around 1am on Saturday, I saw this prostitute along 'Walking Street', the main strip of go-go bars in Pattaya. She was holding a one month old baby. The noise coming from the surrounding bars and discos was deafening. I indicated to her through basic sign language, (covering my ears and pointing at the newborn), that the music might not be so good for the baby, but all she did was throw me back a blank hollow look. The problem was I didn't know how to shout to her in Thai some unsolicited medical advice along the lines of "Prolonged exposure to very loud noise can severely damage a fraglile newborn's eardrums! It can cause long-lasting damage to a child's hearing!" There she was, late at night, out on the strip, with a hardened friend who also had a toddler in tow. And they didn't seem to be begging. When I asked her, she told me in broken English that they would go home at 4am. For the kids' sakes, I really really hope they weren't 'working'...

It only came to my attention a few days later, through my Twitter, that the Hong Kong-based ADM Capital Foundation are funding a project in Pattaya to help children at risk of neglect and sexual abuse. (Incidentally, ADMCF are also providing big bucks to Bloom, a marine environmental NGO who are doing great work for the sharks in Hong Kong). According to ADMCF's website, "Almost 2.5 million international tourists visit Pattaya every year, making it one of Thailand’s top tourist destinations. Unfortunately, with a population of 700,000 at the peak of tourist season, Pattaya is arguably the main destination for sex tourism in Southeast Asia. The large number of tourists attracts street-living children and youth. Over 2,000 children transit Pattaya every year from poorer Thai provinces. Increasingly, migrants are also coming from neighboring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Children who grow up on the streets of any large Asian city live an unstructured life. Theft, begging and peddling drugs often become their reality. In Pattaya, young girls and boys living on the streets are also at risk of sexual abuse". 

Pattaya is also a place where telescopic truncheons, knuckledusters, flick knives, vicious-looking collapsible hammers and even tasers are openly on sale in the street. All made in China, of course. Quite why anyone would want to buy a taser on their holdiday is beyond me. 'Land of Smiles' anyone?

In delightful Pattaya you can cuddle an endangered species for a 100 baht (HKD24.00/USD3.00), just like this Russian tourist.

A 'slow loris' is a slow-moving rainforest dwelling primate from South East Asia, and their numbers are being slowly wiped out by illegal traders. Their natural habitat is from NE India to the Philippines, from China to Indonesia, and every rainforest in between.

But their cuteness is also their curse. Slow lorises are being hunted to the verge of extinction for their use in traditional medicine, but also to sell to Japanese housewives, who, according to a three year old article on the BBC website, pay illegal wildlife traffickers anywhere between US$1,500 and US$4,500 per cute creature. Now I'm not sure which type of slow loris this is, but according to The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), all species of loris are listed as 'Vulnerable', except for the Javan Slow Loris of Indonesia which unfortunately finds itself further down the list, at 'Endangered'.

Seeing as the World Cup is on right now, I popped into a bar to catch the England vs USA match, the result of which was a most disappointing 1:1. In the bar I came across some England fans. More wildlife, except this time, unfortunately, not of the endangered variety...

Well worth reading is a great blog post about sex tourism in Asia by the anti-child trafficking NGO Love146, which can be found here.

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PATTAYA THAILAND PHOTOGRAPHER

Thai Boxing In Pattaya, Thailand.

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PATTAYA THAILAND PHOTOGRAPHER

Shark Fin Soup In Pattaya, Thailand.

You just can't get away from the damn stuff.

This man is preparing shark fin soup on the street for 300 Thai Baht (HKD72.00/USD9.25) a bowl. These days in Hong Kong it's getting harder and harder to find restaurants that let you shoot these kind of pictures. I guess the whole shark fin controversy hasn't yet rippled out to this part of South East Asia.

And by night...

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA SHARK FIN PATTAYA THAILAND PHOTOGRAPHER

Hell Hole Of The Universe: Pattaya, Thailand.

This week I'm on a newspaper assignment in the world's biggest sex tourism hub: Pattaya, Thailand.

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PATTAYA THAILAND PHOTOGRAPHER

The Hong Kong Shark Fin Lobby Are Starting To Crumble!

A small victory for anti-shark fin activism in Hong Kong.

Perhaps all the Facebook campaigns, media attention, and the general nascent revulsion against ocean rape, are starting to take effect.

'Super Star Seafood Restaurant' Group, a huge player in the local restaurant industry, is now offering 20% off shark fin dinners after 8:30pm. Could the shark-finners be feeling the heat? Has a tipping point in society been reached? Is demand falling? Are the dominoes starting to tumble? Seeing as today is World Ocean Day 2010, I would very much like to think so.

More good news. Our 'Man & Shark' video is finally completed. The short movie now has its very own soundtrack composed by the hugely talented London producer Dan Berkson. You can learn more about Dan's work here and here. And since our movie is no longer infringing Warner Brothers copyright with 'dummy' music (sorry Moby!), it is now allowed up onto YouTube. Yay!

Chinese version:-

English version:-

That's all for now, but there's lots more stuff going on in the stinky world of shark fin. Expect more news soon...

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

Man With Large Amounts Of Foam Spotted On A Bike In Shenzhen, China.

So anyway, just to get yesterday's naughtiness off the front page of the blog, here's one of those featurey-type of photos from China that picture editors in 'The West' so absolutley love.

I took this photo on Thursday, in Shenzhen, whilst on assignment for a Brazilian magazine. As a sign of the times that we're living in, this is the first time I have been commissioned to do a job by a South American client. Them BRICs and all that.

* Apologies to regular visitors of this blog for the slight hiatus in postings recently. I have been slammed from all sides with more work than I can handle. Everyone I know assures me that this is a good thing, but I sure could use a break right now. *

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG SHENZHEN CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

That Annual Event In Hong Kong...

Taking the utmost care not to use any sensitive keywords beginning with either the letter 'T', or a number between 63 and 65, here are some photos of that annual ritual in Hong Kong which shall go un-named.

Twenty one years already. How time flies...

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011