Hong Kong: The Pulse of Life

Hunan China Performance Troupe-14

There are days where no matter how I get out of bed, every side is the wrong side.

Days where the dreary drone of jumbled words fill the mind and accompanies me as I sleep walk through the day.  A day, regardless of what my calendar tells me, is a week of  full of Monday mornings.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-2

Since returning to Hong Kong last week, my typical day has been where eyes half-closed and stumbling toward the bathroom, the corner of the bed is somehow sticking out a ½ inch further than it normally does…and bam.

The day has me defeated within the first minute of waking.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-10

Of course, when such days arrive, the first thought that comes to mind is that amused one we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another: “why even venture further, just turn around and go back to bed.”

But it is always the second thought that keeps me moving: “Coffee…”

Hunan China Performance Troupe-3

That first sip is usually what I need to get me out the door, and while I bumble and laugh myself through the day, I know such strangeness will be over when I crawl back in bed and travel to dreamland…

The minute I close my eyes, I consider it a start of a new day and there is nothing like a great dream for it to begin anew.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-9

“Who does not love wine, women and song
Remains a fool his whole life long.”  ~ Johann Voss

Now, if I had the power to control the plot of my dreams I would have to say the above quote comes pretty close to how I’d like mine to flow. A dream where I am a carefree spirit, loving the simple things and able to enjoy this realm where I can feel the pulse of life.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-13

My dream takes me to a place in Hunan Province…among the TuJia minority, people after my own heart as their focus is on music, dancing and their wine: a culture similar in many ways to the spirit of the West.  Relying on the trust and joy of friends and family, finding what is needed from the land and life so they can share their joy.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-11

While in Hunan, I met up with a group of friends who perform shows about their TuJia minority culture.  One night at dinner, among all the stories being passed around was the one where the leader of the troupe is given a hard time because he married “very late” at the age of 31 years old.

His reason was simple: “I couldn’t sing well enough…so no girl wanted me” and with his laughter he started the clashing of glasses of homemade moonshine…and looked at me smiling saying “really it is true!” beside him his wife smiling, nodded her head vigorously in agreement.

Nothing quite like Hunan spices and homemade firewater to wake-up the senses.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-15

Waking up the senses. Feeling the Pulse of Life. The remedy for this dreary feeling I’ve had since returning to Hong Kong is one I have used before: simply sit back, become entranced and Let The Show Begin

Watching the performance of my friends was simply mesmerizing. It is as if I stole a bit of their adrenaline in each act…and feel a bit guilty at this theft, but it is the good kind of guilt.  For their gift to us all is an abundance of adrenaline and inspiration out there for all to take.

The feeling, the dream and dance, it is brilliant and a bit addicting.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-8

There is a saying within the TuJia culture that goes something like this: “only through music and dance can one run away without leaving home.” Which perhaps explains why the people remain so close-knit, and why there is such incredible madness and passion when they perform.

Hunan, famous for their spices and hospitality, and the Tujia people whose culture encapsulates the carefree spirit of dreams and desires.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-6

As I exit the show within my dream, the cool, crisp air of the morning greets me and gives me a deserved slap in the face.  With the potential of the day ahead, and I’m ready to experience the best of Hong Kong and China.

My shorts and t-shirt once again have to be replaced with a more sensible business attire, but on the inside, the youthful spirit is back to see what else the world can bring.

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Dreams are what we need to re-energize and understand that we’d be foolish not to enjoy the good things life throws our way. “Wine, women and song” is the simple thought the spirit of life brings to remind us who we are.

Here in Hong Kong, the hard work and dedication of its population to build a great life is the focus, but every now and then it is necessary to reassess where we are and pursue the freedom that life beckons.  It is that jolt we sometimes need; a dream that jolts us awake as we fall, guaranteeing there will never be a dull moment.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-12

The unconscious performer, lost in dream and taking us along for the inspirational ride.

Youthful spirits taking up a cause only their idealistic minds can fully understand… and it is more than just a performance, it is the essence of life.

Creativity is at the core of us all, and it is the mind of the young which allow us to evolve and build a better place.

Better for ourselves, for our family and for our friends.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-1

There simply is not a better way to live than with happiness in our hearts, and when that inevitable day comes where it feels like nothing is going right, step inside a live performance and get lost.

Find again that fury which is the pulse of life.

Hunan China Performance Troupe-4

Sing a song of Beauty
Sing a song of Truth
Live the life of Liberty
Where Freedom will take root…
 
Hunan China Performance Troupe-7

 

123 Comments on “Hong Kong: The Pulse of Life

  1. Beautiful pictures that sweep you away. “For their gift to us all is an abundance of adrenaline and inspiration out there for all to take.” A great reminder to us all for the days we feel disconnected in life.
    Karen

    • Thanks Karen, sometimes the passion of others can completely readjust the mood ~ it is always great when it happens. Cheers.

  2. Lovely shots. When I was in Lijiang, I attended a concert by a group from the Naxi community. The minorities, in China, make it a fascinating country

  3. Stunning photos and reminders to embrace life fully, while appreciating the simple things. I love the idea of dance as a way to travel without leaving home. Maybe that will help my travel lust. I’d love to learn how you manage all this travel. Thanks for sharing the passion and inspiration that you find in dance and photography. 🙂

    • Thank you ~ I think by keeping our eyes out for the simple things, the other more complex issues are easier to resolve. I live out here in Hong Kong, with somewhat frequent trips back to the States, so work keeps me bouncing around. Cheers 🙂

  4. Dalo, I was waiting for your post and I enjoyed it very much! Best to you, my friend!

  5. Lovely and inspiring ~ since feeling like I had a month of Mondays today your little escape is just what I needed!

  6. Hello Randy 🙂
    It’s just past 1:38 am in Houston and I just had one of those Mondays you talk about.
    Would you believe I just thought about you and your post popped up in my notification. Yes, I know exactly what you mean by stumbling along.
    I saw some bull riders yesterday on T.V. and it got me thinking about you and I realized that time of the year had come and gone, and I didn’t read anything about Pendleton and one of your favorite past times,lol
    Anyway I got completely lost in the glowing faces and breathtaking images of your post, and of course your engaging narrative as well. You have truly captured yet again, the real essence of life and living.

    “only through music and dance can one run away without leaving home”

    I had a hard day yesterday and after a long day of sole parenting (hubby stuck in Atlanta) I too wanted to run away from home. The above quote in a nutshell captures my conviction, and despite all of that days horror, I finally got a chance to relax, so into my bedroom I went.
    It was quite, just me, Nora Jones, Mr John Legend and a few others. I did have a bit of whiskey for the soothing too, I’m sure you can imagine the rest.
    Sitting there on my little sofa, the days woes fizzled away…totally paled in comparison to the bliss of the moment. There’s a saying in my home town that when someone thinks of you, and soon after, they see you or talk to you, or someone talks about you: then you have been touched by the great spirit.This means you will be increased and live very long.
    May your increase never cease Randy and thank you so much for reminding me again what joy there is in living.

    • Hey Dotta, yes there is always something about connections ~ and the saying from your hometown I believe in ~ so great to hear from you. A little Nora and Legend to keep you company tonight is not a bad deal, and if it was Pendleton Whiskey it would have been perfect 🙂 Missed the Round-Up this year, but it is on my calendar for next year! Let’er Buck!
      Take care, and wish you the best!

  7. Dreaming. Sometimes I reckon it’s challenging to dream, let our imaginations run wild, see what we can really achieve and who we can be. It’s so easy to stay where we are and be comfortable with what we have; mundanity is a safety net for us. Agree with you we are as young as we let ourselves feel. Feeling youthful, there’s always a yearning inside us to dream and make things happen. What is dreaming to me: not only getting lost and getting inspired by the grand thoughts in my heard or watching captivating performances, but also learning and growing from these moments. Travel. Talking to someone new. Soaking up a moment that feels so foreign and so surreal.

    Glad to hear you have coffee to look forward to to help you get on with your day. I don’t drink coffee…and don’t have anything like that to perk me up on a dreary day. Eating chocolate throughout the day always helps, though 🙂

    • That is the great battle at times ~ dreams that can push the envelope as to what we can achieve, versus the feeling that life is good and simple happiness is perfect. No right answer, as our desires can change depending on our mood. And as you say, perhaps the most important thing is the learning & growing. Also, chocolate does help! 🙂 Thanks Mabel.

      • “No right answer”. All the more reason why we should have hope that anything is possible 🙂

  8. Gosh the show that you have photographed is so spectacular! I think this week is one of those eternal Monday morning weeks for me too, really am not with it… I love the story about your friend who married old at 31 because he couldn’t sing well. Once I was on an island in Peru in the Lake Titicaca, they explained that the men had to know how to weave a cloth, they would have to weave it and then go down to the lake and scoop water with it. If it is so well woven than no water seeps through, he will make a good husband. Funny how some civilizations have such simple ideas while we are sooo complicated…

    • Ha, ha ~ I figured after our ‘Mondays’ conversation, this would be the perfect post. The differences between cultures is truly fascinating…amazing how people focus on things that seem so foreign from our perspective. Thanks Sofia ~ enjoy your week of Mondays!

  9. Hello Randall,
    Wow…what can I say – both you and the other folks who’ve already commented have expressed it so perfectly. And I don’t want to be redundant 😉 Me too, I’ve been having one of “those days,” but I realise it’s not just me, it can happen to anyone at anytime. I also love to get a glimpse into the minority groups of China. So many different traditions, each are wonderful. Thanks so much for the inspiration (as always)! When will these photos be published in Nat Geo?? 🙂 Take care, and try not to work too hard 😉
    Best,
    Takami

    • Thanks Takami, I too always think getting a glimpse into a different culture can be inspirational ~ for photography and also for just understanding a bit more about life & people. Wish you the best (and waiting for Nat Geo to call!). Cheers.

  10. Lively and lovely pictures and I totally enjoyed the essay. “Sing a song of Beauty… Where Freedom will take root”..yes the pulse of life.

    • Thank you, it was pretty fun writing the essay ~ too easy to relate with! Nothing quite like the pulse of life…

  11. What a wonderful post to see this Tuesday morning which will end up being a very late night work day.. It’s these moments of interaction with others that truly can bring our life back into focus on what truly matters..
    Thank you for this wonderful post and stunning photos!
    PS- Drink more coffee, less moonshine 🙂

    • Thank you, very much agree that finding photographs or prose that connects is one of the great things about blogging. It an bring focus back to the simple & important things. Cheers to a good week, and also agree ~ more coffee is the better route!

    • Thanks Kamila, had quite a bit of fun writing it ~ very happy you enjoyed it. Take care & safe travels!

  12. Hey there, Dalo 🙂

    What a great way to start my morning off. A reminder that we all have moments where we stumble, and sometimes it is first thing in the morning. Yes, the promise of coffee can help most definitely. Ha. What I love more than coffee is the true determination our souls have to get things right. I believe we all have it.

    Thank you for allowing us a walk through your spirit and this fantastic dream. The quote you’ve chosen makes me smile. Yeah, it is sorta like that, you know. 🙂 Now your poem…well, it very well liberated me this morning. For that I must thank you and offer out how much I enjoyed the opportunity to witness this side of you. It only makes me enjoy you more. Ahh, such poetic words. 🙂 (imagine my embarrassment if this isn’t your poem -laughs)

    The second last photo you shared is perfection. Just look at those beautiful women flirting with your camera lens. You caught a perfect moment for women, wine and music, I’d say. Thank you for your words, Photographer Philosopher Extraordinaire ♡

    • Nothing like a stumble first thing when waking up, as it only means the rest of the day gets better from there ~ or at least that is the logic I like to use on such days 🙂

      Funny, that poem was purely accidental ~ it was a sentence until I got to the last line and thought “Hey this rhymes”. Let’s just say I will be keeping my day job. The performance was a great memory to reflect on today and you picked a great photo that captures it. Cheers Audrey ~ enjoy the rest of your week!

  13. R.
    You’ve done it again…swept us all away with you…gathering each and everyone of us who search and then cling to our own captured “perfect moments” and then share them with the others. Keep whispering in our minds, R, that the searching part, the journey, is well worth the effort…and that first morning cup of coffee.
    R.

    • Thanks R., perfect words to hear ~ it is always nice to have company in the search and in the journey to someplace new. Even better when we can share a cup of coffee along the way. Cheers…

  14. I was carried away with your prose and pictures Randall. A fine antidote to the dreariness of my day. Thank you!

    • Thank you Adrian, always a bit of light to be found in any dreary day ~ which is good news for photographers… Cheers.

  15. Very nice pictures. At first I thought I was reading about you how to struggle waking up in the morning in a form of fancy literature but as I finished reading the whole story, I was touched by how you interpret life especially those away from home.

  16. Randall, your photography is exquisite–beautifully composed, perfectly exposed, satisfyingly sharp, vibrant and so full of colour and joie de vivre. The memories of such a splendid performance are valuable inner commodities–I wholly believe the antidote to a “no good very bad day” is always found in our own minds. We can mine such wonderful memories to take us to a better feeling place. As always, an interesting and well-written post. Love it! ~ Jeannie

    • Thank you Jeannie, there are always happy memories (even better if captured in photography) to revert back to and make any day feel like it is the best ever. Cheers to a great week.

  17. Another terrific post Randall. All of your photos are wonderful as always but I particularly loved the little butterfly girls-something about the color and the movement of the dress captured me. Life must be very interesting in Hong Kong these day if it’s anything like what we’re reading about in the newspapers!

    • Thanks Tina, yes HK is a bit “exciting” right now although it is such a mellow place when it comes to politics ~ and most people (I agree) believe the media is making it pretty dramatic. I’m checking it out later today (National Day over here). I do admire what the students are doing ~ giving a voice to where one is needed.

  18. Beautiful photos and again, I admire your writing. Have you ever thought to publish a book? 😉
    This line – a special line you wrote that somehow reminds me of a news that I read today : “Here in Hong Kong, the hard work and dedication of its population to build a great life is the focus, but every now and then it is necessary to reassess where we are and pursue the freedom that life beckons.” I hope Beijing will hear the protesters in HK. HK has had different history and such repression will not be easy to applied in HK. On the other hand, I hope China will be a democratic state that respect its citizen fundamental rights – freedom of speech and expression..could that be HK situation now is just a start? My best wishes and be safe..

    • Great comment, thank you Indah. This line you chose was the line I wanted to build this post around ~ with all our dreams and daily issues, we cannot miss the ones that mean the most to us: freedom. It is something we can take for granted until it is gone…so having the courage and drive that I see now in Hong Kong is inspiring. Peace is the #1 thought for the population, but they also seem quite determined to be heard. A creative, great group of people protesting these days.

  19. Gorgeous, mesmerizing, soulful … your posts are like the pulse of life for us. Thank you thank you thank you!

  20. I agree with you on coffee, singing and dreaming. But I think women might just drive you to drink more … Tee hee. I’ve always wanted to see a Chinese show and looking at your photos makes heightens the desire to see one. Hongkong is in the news recently. Please stay safe.

    • Ha, ha…yes you may be quite right about women 🙂 Nothing quite like a live performance, and so many to choose from ~ if you get the chance definitely go. Thanks for the comment and concern, HK is a bit uneasy right now.

  21. Hong Kong’s people are beautiful and talented. The spices photo was awesome!

    • Thank you Jackie, agree the people there are beautiful and talented…saw it last night in full when the Central to Admiralty districts were full of caring & thoughtful demonstrators. A powerful city, made so by its inhabitants.

  22. Thanks for the vicarious journey, Randy. It wasn’t coffee that awakened me; it was the vivid colors and life being lived large in your photos that captured and heightened my focus. And the amalgam of your words… dreamland, carefree spirit, and pulse of life — each converging to yield freedom; truly inspiring. Among so much beauty the question begs: How well do you sing? 🙂

    • Thanks Eric ~ one of the many scenes in life that do inspire. As for my singing, there is a reason I am behind the camera… Cheers!

  23. I loved your post! Both the text and beautiful pictures! Welcome to Hong Kong again, a dear friend has moved there recently 🙂

    • Thank you, it is great to be back here for the autumn and with the protests & demonstrations taking place it has become pretty active on a totally different scale. Great people here 🙂

  24. Superb photos – one get’s a real sense of the vibrant colour and movement in your images.

  25. Stunning gallery. Thanks for sharing these great photos.
    All the very best to you, Aquileana 😛

    • Thank you very much for the nice words, and happy you liked them Aquileana ~ wish you a great week 🙂

  26. Hi, Randall — My week of Mondays kept me from diving into your latest piece, now that I have I can almost see sunshine peeking through the grey cloud cover hovering over Manhattan! Thank you, as always, for the stunning photography and lyrical writing. A toast to us all, “Find again that fury which is the pulse of life.”

    • That is such a great image you’ve created in my mind: “sunshine peaking through…hovering over Manhattan!” ~ and a good note to prepare for the coming weekend. Thank you!

  27. Beautiful photos and I enjoyed your narrative. You’re certainly in a great place to experience the pulse of life, despite or perhaps even because of the current unrest.

    • Thank you, and you are so correct ~ will head out this evening and again see, admire and talk with some of the locals and their ideas. Cheers!

  28. Hi Randy, I read your story, a fabulous post. A beautiful spectacular dancing culture, wants to show that culture bring people happy feeling.
    Interrupt what is happening in Hong Kong, I do not write too far. We are witnesses of all history
    When I read, fortunately you can sleep. 🙂
    I read your story till the end. And the dream where you see, appear in a beautiful cultural art. Remarkable!
    i would say, you’ve an spectacular article written with a very nice photos.That culture make people happy rather than sadness.
    I write in short English language. hope you can understand.Till your next post Randy. Salute!

    • Wonderful comment, and thank you. You are so right about the current environment in HK, it is amazing, intense which brings a little fear. I hope it becomes a happy dream for all. HK is such a positive place ~ I guess the history here supports that too. Take care (great English by the way!).

  29. Randall, it is impossble not to comment here. First off, it is hard to believe you outdo yourself in the photography, but there you go. Jaw-droppers, these. You had me at the opening, as you describe me most fog-headed mornings. And you know I’m a sucker for anything to do with dreams. Thanks for keeping us in Wonderland. Breathtaking to see how people on the other side of the world dream in the waking hours when I do my dreaming under the moon.

    • This is such a wonderful comment to receive Diana, thank you. I too am a sucker for dreams, always a bit of the unknown ~ always interesting. Your last sentence is perfect 🙂

  30. SPECTACULAR!
    The stage looks propped very well. The dancers look like dolls at first sight. 🙂 The performance must be so mesmerizing to watch with the dances, and great lighting. And so captured these actions so so well. Expert Photography, Dalo. Do you actually do photography for a living? You shoud.
    The black and white image is also a great addition. Really proves that B&W shots work well with performances.
    I always remind myself to always have a smile on your face and a song in your heart. 😀

    • Thank you Rommel, a smile on your face & song in your heart ~ that is a good way to live 🙂 My photography is a great hobby, not able to make a living from it but that may actually be good as that means I can enjoy it (at least this is how I rationalize it…). Cheers!

  31. I ❤ this post and your reflections. I've been having these days as well, where I wake up and can't open my eyes, my eye lids heavy from these endless meaningless dreams that kept me half awake the night before. This is not very typical of me. Yet I believe that, apparent from these dreams, this has something to do with the change in seasons that is not apart any more – as we messed with the climate, we messed with our biological clocks…
    God knows I am a dreamer with an artist soul, and just like you, I resource and reenergize myself lost in the world of art, magic, theater, music and dance. The photographs and colors are truly magical. Have to say that the butterfly girls are my favorite.
    You should seriously think of compiling your photo work and essays into a book, or something like that 🙂 , that will help learn more about and preserve certain cultures, their customs and art. Great and inspiring work! luv xox

    • Thank you, sometimes there is nothing better than to be lost in dream all day ~ even though it feels as it we are just sleepwalking through the day. Cheers to a great weekend!

  32. To this marvelous native quote “only through music and dance can one run away without leaving home.” I’ll also append reading photo journals and other books 🙂 Absolutely breathtaking photos as usual. I admire your ability to thrive in a place with so many people. I’d be in ‘I need space’ freak-out mode continually, lol. Thanks for taking us along on you ‘dream’.

    • I really like your idea of appending this quote to read photo-journals as well ~ agree 100%. Thank you very much for this great comment!

    • I kind of figured you’d like this post, nothing quite like see people performing who not just love what they are doing, but are extremely talented as well. Cheers!

    • Thank you DIna, the show & performers were pretty amazing, felt like a dream just watching. Cheers!

  33. Coffee has helped many a person to get up in the morning, this one writing as well… And yes, dreams are important to keep us alive and stay motivated. I really like this dream sequence of photos. I am swept away by the beauty, their colours, their compositions and yes, their dreamlike state or vision.

    • There is something about travel; running into good people and being able to jump in & share a small piece of their life brings mystical, almost dreamlike quality to the day/experience. Thank you Otto!

  34. What an amazingly colorful photos and such a well written post, thanks for sharing!
    All the best, Ron

  35. I sat here while falling in love with your words emerging like drops, one by one, remaining on this web page … every drop became something that if spoken would flow away. Why didn’t I see this post before, I wonder??? Why??
    I think I have a problem now. Your Photography brought me here and kept me HERE. While your Photography is still your Photography, your Narrative becomes more and more powerful and challenging.

    I must present you someone… I will do it in my next post… You will see.
    Till then, don’t forget I am in love (with him and my son, life, food, photography and now also with you; pardon… your narrative:)

    Wish you a nice weeked
    Warmly, Luana

    • Thank you Luana ~ sometimes writing is more interesting & absorbing that photography, so very nice to hear your words. Enjoyed reading about Oriana, what a powerful and strong woman, and I can see why you admire her and perhaps are following in her style 🙂 Cheers to a great week!

  36. What a spectacle! Randall, I am transfixed by your thought provoking reflections and your breathtaking art!

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