I just missed the renewal of the protests last night in Hong Kong. Actually, I literally just missed being stuck in a metro station as it was set on fire.
I’m here with my sister Pam at my nephew Niko’s home in the New Territories. He runs an awesome bar called Momentai – go to http://www.momentai-la.com/ for more info! – and yesterday we headed into Hong Kong for some last minute shopping. This is such an easy region to get around. We simply hopped on the bus from Sai Kung to the Mong Kok district and got out forty minutes later.
Like each day I’ve been in downtown Hong Kong, I photographed the smashed traffic lights and graffiti from the relentless months of protests against the Chinese government. Niko says it’s been quiet for the last month, but he’s been in the city when the air was filled with tear gas.
Hong Kong is always crowded. And on Christmas Eve at rush hour after 5:00 p.m. the crowds are, um, impressive. We wended our way through the Ladies Market and walked from there over to a big store on Nathan Road I visit each time I’m here to buy tea. We made a brief stop at the Harbor City Mall. It was around 7:00 p.m. and time to head home.
We exited the mall where a small and intense knot of riot police stood. We passed a second group 100 yards down the sidewalk. And then a third. And then a fourth.
The policemen’s faces under their helmets were half covered in black cloth and they wore black padded knee protectors and heavy boots, and carried clear plastic shields with Police written in English and Chinese, and batons, and pepper spray, and tear gas cannisters, and gas masks, and thick vests, and weapons. They looked like storm troopers.
This was maybe not the time to take photographs. I left my camera in my bag.
The streets were packed with last minute shoppers and everyone who was now off work and trying to get home. All around us young people wore festive Christmas stockings or reindeer antlers on their heads. We inched slowly along underground with the thick throngs through the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR (Mass Transit Railway), squeezed into the train for Mong Kok, and then caught a bus there back to Sai Kung.
An hour later some of those young people in stockings and antlers were fighting in the streets with the police. The Harbor City Mall was the beginning flash point. Last night the authorities were forced to shut down Nathan Road. Protesters set the Mong Kok metro station on fire. The two MTR stations we’d used stopped running, and the area turned into one gigantic traffic jam.
The most bizarre moment is that shortly before midnight and the beginning of Christmas Day, the protesters stopped what they were doing and wished everyone, including the police force, a Merry Christmas.
Ho Ho Ho, Hong Kong.
NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2019. Photos to follow. Click here for my author page to purchase my books.