Events celebrating and protesting LGBT rights have taken place in many parts of the world over the last several months. Hong Kong enjoyed its annual parade on November 10, with a theme “dare to love”, attracting people from all over the world. Starting from Victoria Park, the attendees dressed in a variety of fashions denoting their occupation or favorite social theme, calling for equal opportunities and fair treatment in the work place. With a huge rainbow flag and colorful popping bubbles, the happy throng paraded through the city centre creating a carnival-like atmosphere during the two-hour-long procession.
A huge rainbow flag is carried by participants during the 4th Hong Kong LGBT parade.
Nothing can be more excited than getting an opportunity to visit North Korea, the so call most isolated and mysterious country in the world. So many questions came to my mind immediately – Is it safe there? Can I have enough food to eat? Where can I exchange my money before I go? I was confused, curious and a bit worried.
We, a group of journalism students, took the Pyongyang airline in the Beijing airport. Each of us had a North Korea style hamburger on the plane. Seriously, it tasted really terrible and that is why I decided to head to the grocery store for some cup noodle once we arrived the hotel (but this is a stupid decision).
We were not allowed to take any pictures at the Pyongyang airport, but some of my classmates did. Unfortunate, the tour guide saw that asked them to delete the photos right away. In fact, the customs officer even checked some of our iPhones very carefully when we crossed enter boarder. But anyway, we all got into the city!
Every photograph we wanted to take needed permission from the tour guide because we was not allowed to capture certain aspects of life in North Korea, like the local people, soldiers, workers and construction sites. But since we were a group of people, sometimes we just took it anyway when the guide busy introducing the attractions. Two cameramen followed us for the whole journey, filming almost every moment. They said they would make a CD for us at the end and we could choose to buy it or not (it was damn expensive as I remember).
We could not wander around freely, which was a completely different experience of travelling. We have little opportunity to interact with locals and in turn, the locals were too afraid to interact with the foreign visitors. The tour guide told us if the citizens have talked to tourist, they would get into trouble.
We stayed in a five-starts hostel where electricity was cut off from time to time. No Internet of course and no phone call could be made, but we could still “enjoy” some local and Chinese TV channels in our room. I have never seen their currency during the whole trip. However, RMB was accepted in all souvenir stores. I was very curious how they exchange the money back?
In our five-days trip, we checked out a lot of statues and monuments where we needed to offer flowers and bow to show the respect of their president and revolutionary martyrs. We also went to the DMZ, the most fortified border between North Korea and South Korea. It was fun to visit one of their kindergartens and primary school and watch the performance by local kids.
Everything that they showed in us in Pyongyang City looks great but don’t forget many North Korea people are still suffering starvation and struggling with their life. People here are not able to enjoy the freedom that we have. After I came back, I checked out a lot of videos and books that disclose the real life of people in North Korea. I felt extremely complicated and upset.
This couple, lived in the Tai O island, have been married for almost 50 years. Grandpa Hon’s sight has got progressively worse over the years and it was almost impossible for him to go out alone. However, he was very grateful to have his wife Grandma Chou accompany him and taking care of the details of their life.
Because of the increasing fuel price, implement of environmental policy as well as variable weather in recent years, Fishing is suffering a tough time. Most traditional fishermen decide to divert to other fields. Uncle Ming, being as one of the local traditional fishermen, with great luck, found his new job eight years ago and now works as a fisherfolk docent in Lamma fisherfolk’s village.
“As the leaving and retiring of older generation fishermen, some valuable “fisherfolk” culture like fishfolk wedding, traditional way of making dragon boat, weaving the fishing net and frizzling up salty fish pass into silence gradually,” said Cheng Wah Ming with a sense of pity.
Uncle Ming has contributed his own fishing boat which he used to live in with his ten sisters and brothers, as well as all his personal stuff to set up a small fisherfolk’s museum, hoping that all visitors could have a first – hand experience of fishmen’s life and better understand their culture.
“I know even thought it won’t make a big change under my own steam, I am trying my best to remain our traditional fisherfolk culture by working as a docent here. I love my job and it seems a responsibility for me, it is really meaningful.” said Uncle Ming.
“I did the decoration and wrote every piece of spring couplets here by myself.” He said with a bit of pride. And he is in this way, using each tiny action, carry out his promise to preserve fishfolk culture.
Uncle Ming is glad to share his own way of making fish nets and drying salted fish with visitors. But he looks more attractive when he performs magic! “I already have a lot of fans!” he joked. “I learned by reading books and simple wish to bring greater happiness to my visitors.”
Like most fishermen, Uncle Ming believes fishing will be his first and also the last job. However, not everyone get that piece of good luck. “For most of traditional fishermen, with inadequate education and poor stamina in their age, they have to work as sanitation workers or stevedores in urban city when they no longer work as fishermen.”
The <Fisheries Protection Ordinance> will be put into practice in the coming December. Legislative Council has passed the legislative amendments to ban trawling (including pair, stern, shrimp and hang trawling) in Hong Kong waters. By conservative estimates, around 400 trawl boats owners will be affected.
Even though the government is going to buyout those affected inshore trawlers from trawler owners who voluntarily surrender their vessels, it occasioned Uncle Ming much anxiety. “What those fishermen lose will not be simply a fishing boat, but the spiritual patron for their living.” Said Uncle Ming with a sense of sadness.