So Uk - The oldest government housing in Hong Kong

So Uk Estate entranceSunday morning, and myself and good friend and fellow Leica photographer 'Rocco' met up for a traditional English breakfast in Soho before deciding where to head out for some street photography on this pleasantly sunny but chilly Sunday morning. We decided to visit 'So Uk' in Cheung Sha Wan, reported as the oldest government housing estate in Hong Kong.  We thought it might make an interesting subject so we jumped on the MTR and headed off into Kowloon.

We did a little googling on the way to find out more information: the 16 block estate was constructed in 1960. Unlike many public housing estates built afterward, the architectural design of the estates is unique in Hong Kong. There are 5,316 flats in the estate, with capacity of 15,200.

So Uk Estate and mapbalconiesview up to So Uk

Upon arrival I was slightly surprised, I thought it would look more 'run-down' being the oldest estate, but it was very well maintained and clean, a far stretch from any of the older government housing I could find in London or anywhere else in Europe for that matter!

The kind of images I had in my mind before going to So Uk were 'texture', 'symmetry', 'shape'....  So At first I tried mainly to look for these kinds of images, which were everywhere to be found, as you will see later in the blog post though....I always seem to gravitate towards 'people' photography, no matter where I go, just can't help it!

'Gursky like' view of So UkSo Uk texturessymmetry

Another shock for me was that almost every single person i met spoke perfect English and were super-friendly towards us, maybe they don't see too many 'Gweilo's' (westerners) visiting the estate, I am not sure, but either way, it was very pleasant to be able to chat to many different people around the estate and find out a little about their life there.  The image below shows Pat, Harvey and their small Peking dog called 'Bun Bun'.

Harvey, Pat and Bun Bun

Another lady we met at the entrance to the estate was equally happy to chat to us, maybe she wanted to practice her English, I am not sure, but one thing for certain was everybody we met was more than hospitable towards us, at first I thought she was pushing her children or grandchildren in the a pram...then I realised it was two poodle dogs dressed up - amusing for us, and a common site around Hong Kong.

poodles out for a walk/ride...2 poodles in a pram!

The children we encountered were equally keen to chat to us and asked to be photographed when they saw our cameras....Something else I noticed as there is not much 'green' space for gardening in these kind of places was the abundance of Bonsai trees decorating the entire area which also added to the serine peaceful feeling about the place.

So Uk Bonsai TreesLocal kids in So Uk Estate

As we walked around, something else caught my eye - a pre-wedding photography shoot was happening on the roof of the car park!  I guess it makes sense as the place certainly has some contrasting views to the bright red costumes the bride and groom were wearing, so I approached them, had a little chat and asked if I could photograph them all together, as I find the costumes very interesting and again must emphasise the total friendliness of the people around this place.

pre-wedding shootpre-wedding shoot and the photographers

A few other individuals we met also chatted away to us at length and we met a group of young local photographers who were doing the same thing as us, just exploring the area, so we grabbed them for a quick photograph as well.

local man, So Uk EstateHong Kong youth exploring So Uk

So after a few hours in this wonderful part of Hong Kong, we stopped at the local 'cafe' for a hot coffee....perhaps this is the reason I don't live in this part of is way too far from the nearest Starbucks for me! :-)

coffee break

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