On my final day in Hong Kong I went for a walk around Tsim Sha Tsui. I always stayed there on my previous visits to Hong Kong, so it was revisiting familiar places. But it was a Sunday morning and none of the shopping centres were open.
Shopping in Hong Kong has changed a great deal since I was last there in 1983 (!) and seems to be completely aimed at visitors from China. Back in the old days there were shops with beautiful things from China, cloisonné, jade, embroidered linens. Now shop after shop contains Chinese traditional medicine, of interest to visitors from China who prefer to buy in Hong Kong, but not to me. Although I did have a quick look to see if I could find the product called ‘Rejuvenation of Youth’ that I saw in Shanghai in 1983. No luck. The shopping centres were slow to open after midday, but again, not much of interest to the westerner. Wrong shopping centres, obviously. I went back to the hotel to pack and have lunch, then the heavens opened.
In the early evening I caught a cab for the airport. I had high hopes of sketching an amazingly attractive cocktail. Hong Kong airport is huge, and Cathay Pacific has three business class lounges. On our previous visit we had gone to one called The Bridge. As I had gone to get a second drink, I had seen people sitting up at the bar drinking these amazing cocktails. But this time I was directed to a lounge called The Pier, where drinks were plain and the food plainer. Cathay Pacific is supposed to be ‘best business class’. I think they can do better than that. So here is what I had. A vodka and tonic, a muffin, then the ten hour flight home ( and yes they did feed us on the plane).
Hong Kong airport, as I said, is huge. I think I’ve got the hang of it now. Once I had divested myself of my large suitcase, I still had my hand luggage which while not so huge, was heavy. It contained all the Italian ceramics, both for me and for gifts for a friend. Heavy.
So, after passing through immigration and security, up and down many escalators, and then catch a train, and more escalators. Rome is the same, catch a train to the boarding gate. But I am wise to them now, where there is an escalator, there is a lift. So I sussed out the lifts and didn’t beat my heavy little bag about on the escalators.
This particular Saturday in Hong Kong I was lucky enough to be there for an Urban Sketchers Hong Kong event. Three of us got off to an early start, and the rest of the Urban Sketchers arrived around lunchtime. We were sketching the Sheung Wan area, as the group had an upcoming exhibition in a coffee shop there, and wanted plenty of sketches of the local area.
There was plenty to sketch there. Lots of urban grunge with a Hong Kong flavour. What I chose to sketch was limited by finding a handy step or wall to sit on. I was so lucky to find somewhere right opposite the wonderful old green door. Or would you call it a gate?
Then I moved on to Tai Ping Shan Street, a steep street where the upper area was populated by urban sketchers and the lower part by graffiti artists. A real artistic happening, much commented upon by passers-by.
The rain mostly held off, but during a little sprinkle of rain I saw something that will remain in my mind. One of the sketchers, sitting on his stool, sketching in the rain, with another person standing holding the umbrella over him. I guess that’s what happens when you’re so good that people want to watch you work!
Arrived back in Hong Kong and this time to a different hotel – the YMCA Salisbury. An exceptionally nice hotel down by the water and in the same street as the hotel I stayed at last time with a ‘partial harbour view’. This time I had ‘premium harbour view’. Well, all hotels in Hong Kong are expensive, but this one was standard price, not a premium price. I had a huge room on the 11th floor with a panoramic view of the harbour. Free wifi, a bowl of fruit and Hong Kong Harbour view in both directions as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t believe my luck. I had no idea you could get a room like this without paying a fortune.
Yes, as you see it rained again, but I didn’t have to go anywhere to sketch. I could sit in a comfortable chair in my room. See my paints on the window sill?
Symphony of Lights from Wendy Shortland on Vimeo.
I put together this video….sorry about the music.
Now might be the time to post this Hong Kong sketch I did on my way to Europe back in April. I wrote about it in this post, and at the bottom of that post you can see how the rain made the whole harbour disappear. That’s why it was not finished.
I put most of the colour on during my travels. Due to the fuzzy edges of the mountain (The Peak) I had to use a lot of water and wait for it to dry. Normally, at home, I wouldn’t consider this one finished. It’s a bit rough and ready. But what with the lighting in Italian hotel rooms, I decided enough was enough and I should move on.
Hong Kong sketches from the return trip coming up soon!
Today my aim was to spend the day walking around the Jewish ghetto area. Back in the day when I lived in Rome, we used to go there often for the village-like atmosphere in the centre of Rome.
My first stop was in Via Falegnami (street of the carpenters) for a tea and biscotto. I spied something a bit distant to sketch, but before I could begin, a big truck came and parked right in my field of view. So I moved on without taking out my sketchbook.
But before I left the Jewish area, I had a good look around the streets. I had often wandered through this area, but never really explored it. This time I did and I found, set into the pavements, brass plaques about the Jewish people who were taken away by the Nazis during the Second World War. I had never seen them before. Are they new since my last visit? Did I just walk down different streets? Or was I oblivious?
I walked through the market at Campo dei Fiori and came to Piazza Farnese, where I found a cafe to have lunch right opposite Palazzo Farnese, which is now the French Embassy. (As an aside, when I lived in Rome I took the little boy to play at the French Embassy residence at quite a different palazzo. It was the Villa Paolina Bonaparte. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to go inside).
So I sat with my focaccia and lemon tea, and sketched the portone of Palazzo Farnese. Perhaps this will make another solar plate, if it is not too samey-samey with one I have already done. There are so many that I love.
Piazza Maddalena is one of my favourite places in Rome and my favourite bar is there too. On my last trip we discovered it, one block north of the Pantheon. It is one of these places I can spend a lot of time gazing across the piazza. The church is beautiful both inside and out. Some accounts say it is baroque, some rococo. What would I know! But it is the burial place of the patron saint of health care workers. The window has a Red Cross, (thanks, spell-checker, for the capital letters) and in the evening the cross is surrounded by beautiful mother of pearl pastel colours. Once inside, you realise that this is actually the painted ceiling of the church.
On my last trip I spent time here but was only brave enough to sketch the blocked up door on the lower right. Now I am doing monsters I bravely had a go at the whole thing. This is the monster I am happiest with, even though it falls off the bottom of the page. I have Inma Serrano and Lynne Chapman to thank for these sketches.
On this visit to Rome, I was alone and I did a lot of wandering around. I didn’t want to see any more ‘sights’ or to be in any more museums. I wanted to be outside…to be in Rome. I found two areas previously unknown to me that really appealed.
I was heading for the Rome beads shops. Through this, I discovered the Via del Governo Vecchio and the surrounding streets. I bought a few beads then explored the streets that run towards Corso Vittorio Emmanuele. Interesting shops, nice small streets, plenty to see.
Another street I found that day was the Via del Orso which I discovered on my way from the laundry. This is where I bought some of these gorgeous papers. (I have to show you the rest!) A lovely street with interesting shops and cafes. I ate a delicious wrap and had a beer at Papa’s Cafe, as I hadn’t stopped all morning.
So it was in the evening I ate a risotto, drank red wine ( chilly) and sketched the Maddalena.