kid on a stick and you've seen them all
...or, just wait they will be here soon.
buddy Mr. Jones Jr., his wife Eva and I were hanging out
in a tiny cafe along a small lane in a totally unfashionable
part of Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong. It was about 2 pm,
sizzling hot and we were sitting there since two hours.
Mr. Jones Jr. and I were totally hammered.
I couldn't figure out if I was sweating so much because
I was drinking too much or if I was drinking so much because
I sweat so much. I have to check the next time what comes
A little boy was stalking us, hiding behind a fence nonchalantly
walking over to the other side just to quickly slip behind
a tree. Mr. Jones Jr. was saying that the kid would probably
like to throw a banana at us. Luckily for us there weren't
any bananas left on Cheung Chau.
| It was
Buddha's birthday and the whole Island has gone vegetarian for
3 days. They scraped up every piece of food, which wasn't part
of an animal at one time and cleared big chunks of the local
vegetation too. The scariest part of all of that was McDonald's
selling vegeburgers. I wanted to try one but Mr. Jones Jr. said
I shouldn't because it will give me gas and Mrs. Jones can't
stand the smell of white guys farting.
only one pure style of documenting an event and that's
the one where you sit in the shadow, drink cold beer
and and take pictures now and then if something interesting
That is, if something is passing by. So far not much
more moved than banana throwing boys and a guy on a
told us that he wanted to go down town to con tourists
but he couldn't squeeze himself through the millions
of people who invaded the Island today.
So instead he decided
to walk up the hill and sketch some banyan trees.
3 pm. Mr. Jones
Jr. was falling all over the neighboring chairs and table
during an attempted beer run. "They'll be coming soon."
was coming from the rumble.
Something was moving. A bunch of young guys in white T-shirts
came storming down the lane. They stopped in front of us and
started shouting and whistling like a horde of beer soaked
hooligans. It took me a while to realize that apparently their
fury wasn't directed at us but slightly above us. I stumbled
up trying to find out what the hell they were hollering at.
They were screaming at a clothes line full of underwear.
curiosity satisfied I sat down to my beer again not wanting
to push the issue any further. After all, I was the stranger
there and I am sure that they had perfectly good reason
for what they were doing.
After a while of hollering they were getting really mad,
mad enough that one of the guys jumped a pole, climbed
up the awning and attacked the clothes line. Mr. Jones
Jr.'s wife Eva, who is Chinese, somehow felt the urge
to explain the situation.
is insulting to Buddha." Oh yeah of course. I immediately
jumped up to shout encouragements and prooved my support by
throwing my beer at the guy who was shredding some disrespectful
"See, I told you we're coming" Mr. Jones Jr. mumbled
from under his beer can.
were waiting for a parade in honor of Buddha's birthday
and the Tin Hau festival as well.
Everybody else was down at the main square and along the
board walk to watch the parade. Not us, we are professionals.
More importantly Mr. Jones and Eva are locals and they
were sure that the parade will pass by here in our little
alley in the most unfashionable part of Cheung Chau. At
least that's what they told me. I have been sitting here
for 3 hours and nothing even closely resembling a parade
passed by so far.
island is famous for this particular parade. That's the one
where they strap little kids into secret contraptions, dress
them up like dolls and make them appear as if they are floating.
Another part of the festival is all about buns. They build three
huge towers out of buns and people used to climbed them and
get their piece of the pie for good luck or whatever. At one
time, one of those towers collapsed and a bunch of people got
hurt. Now they aren't allowed to mount them anymore and the
buns are distributed to charity.
I went there earlier in the morning to take a few pictures.
There were so many photographers that all you could take
pictures of were other photographers.
when I decided to return to a more sophisticated approach of
journalism and left the madness. I sat down in a park and called
my friend Mr. Jones Jr. who came over with a couple of beers.
There are other methods of documenting events like these. You
could for example wear a loincloth, smile and pretend to be
a native but that approach didn't seem to be the right thing
to do here at this time. And you never know if a loincloth falls
under the "underwear" and therefore the "insulting
Buddha" kind of category. Besides the tourists, who at
this point were in the vast majority, wouldn't have grasped
the depth of the disguise.
The kid who
wanted but couldn't throw a banana at us pulled out
a BB gun instead. For most part of the afternoon I had
that kid pointing a gun at me, probably calculating
his chances of survival if he would actually shoot at
me. I am trying to distract the little bugger by taking
photos of him. When I complained about that to my friend
Mr. Jones Jr. he replied : "If I would have a gun
I would point it at you too."
the alley filled with people and hundreds of little kids in
colorful Chinese costumes carrying all kids of flags. Soon after
that, one float after another with statues of different deities
on them were pushed by us. Now and then a dancing dragon, lion
or unicorn accompanied by loud drums and gongs would boogie
by, stopping and posing for my camera which I whipped out every
time when they the least expected it.
floats of the floating kids started to appear. By that time
those kids had been hanging in their entrapments for the last
three hours, covered in heavy, thick costumes and in the blazing
totally exhausted. Some of them were crying and most
of them had to be supported with long sticks otherwise
they would have just collapsed. Their parents were shouting
at them. After all it's great honor to be on that float
and don't you little fuckers dare to embarrass your
family by crumpling from heat exhaustion.
hour everything seemed to repeat itself and we got bored.
it was after 3 pm we could officially eat meat again.
Mr. Jones Jr.,
a passionate carnivore who suffered deeply for the last three
days, suggested we'll go down to the beach club and have ourselves
some of their famous burgers.
We got our
burgers and beer to wash them down. We also got another
one of those lion dances to go with it. Those dances
are really nice but I have seen so many of them in the
last two weeks that, at this point, I can easily enjoy
the occasional beer without having them jumping around
It was time
to find out how the local authorities have planned to
get those hundreds of thousands of people off the Island
and back to Hong Kong.
They came up with the sophisticated approach of letting them
cue for about two miles. I had none of that shit. I broke the
cue and in a mad rush, pushed my way through the police line
and towards the ferry pier.