The Year of the Rat

Carrie Lam has returned to HK for the year of the rat. How fitting. We are fighting the Wuhan corona virus and on a brief outing to Central today 80%+ of the people are wearing masks. Those who remember 2003 and the SARS outbreak know this is serious.

But photography must go on. Starting with the view from our balcony on a rare clear day.

The view over HK from our balcony

Rats look more like mice at this time of year.

TheYear of the Rat has begun

Most stores have closed for the lunar new year.

Even when things are tough HK is bursting with colour

Known simply as “Hong Kong Bank” here or “The Bank” (not HSBC) the venerable institution has become a target for protesters. They froze an account allegedly being used to crowd fund medical care for injured protesters. Retribution was immediate as branches were attacked and vandalised. Now the HO building is a fortress. Boarded up and protected by steel gates. Your friendly local bank no more.

Fortress HSBC

Life goes on elsewhere and even at new year some people want fresh vegetables and I don’t mean a new government. (Margaret Thatcher once reputedly referred to her cabinet as ‘the vegetables’).

Vegetable stall open even at new year

Life in Hong Kong is turbulent to say the least but in the true British bulldog spirit we shall go (unmasked) to the Club tonight for a new year dinner. It will be packed and the sun will never set on this erstwhile corner of the British Empire.

Kung Hei fat choi, San tai gin hong and of course Sun nin fai lok. Feel free to add your own Cantonese new year greeting.

19 thoughts on “The Year of the Rat

  1. Happy New Year, Andrew. I hope that you, Shirley and Leia as well as the kids decide to wear your masks too. At least on your way places. Even tough British bulldogs can get the flu.

  2. According to a nursing friend of mine, masks are only effective until they become dampened through the wearer’s own breath. After this time they are actually a breeding ground for attracted bacteria. Just saying…
    Happy New Lunar Year 🧸

    • Probably true Jenny. We don’t reuse them. Not going out much but we are going out tonight and hoping the other guests have been sensible. We have got masks that supposedly ‘breathe’ and seal around the face to give better protection.

  3. Enjoy your outing, and Happy New Year. In difficult times it can be tempting to shut down entirely but I know you’ll be sensible.

    • We will not lock ourselves away Melissa. My main worry is that we are due to fly out to Vietnam on Friday and then on to Cambodia. I am not sure what the logistics will be and whether HK airport will shut down.

  4. Happy rat year and all of that. Please wear your masks- doesn’t matter if you are British or not- viruses have no preference but you already know that.

    There are already four suspected cases of the corona virus at Texas A&M. And one suspected case at Baylor University and that student is self isolating. I have no idea how long it takes for the testing to confirm. I am really hoping that no one tests positive.

    Looking at the first photo- all those immensely tall buildings remind me of Legos- they appear so small from afar.

    • Thanks Yvonne. I hope the virus stays contained but it seems other cities are being locked down now. Lots of concerns about Chongqing. A city of some 30m people. They predict it peaking in April which sounds dreadful. We will be careful. The biggest challenge is sourcing masks.

  5. I especially enjoyed your first photo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen (or paid attention to) such a view of Hong Kong. It certainly gives new meaning to the phrase ‘population density.’ Of course, that’s one of the factors that makes communicable disease such an issue. I’ve been thinking about you and your family, and I’m glad to read of your sensible response to the coronavirus outbreak.

    I enjoyed the photo of the market, too. There are a few things there I recognize. That shouldn’t surprise me, but it did, a bit. Happy New Year, and may all your travels be both possible (!) and trouble-free.

    • HK is full of contradictions. About 40% country park but dominated by towering apartment blocks. Rich and poor side by side. Congested, polluted but dynamic and vibrant. Badly administered but a highly entrepreneurial population. We are almost on the Peak but usually below cloud cover level. It is a fine view but often we can’t see across to Kowloon. The vegetables are mostly familiar but I still occasionally see things I don’t recognise. I’m happy with potatoes and carrots! I draw the line at bitter gourd and hairy cucumbers. The virus is spreading fast but no fatalities in HK so far. Long may it stay that way.

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