Tommy Ku Photography

Photowalk in Nam Sang Wai

I am uncomfortable about going out alone to shoot. When in a group it's easy to ignore the strange look from people. When alone, however, every move of mine feels invasive to others despite me trying my best to be respectful. The day when I visited 南生圍 (Nam Sang Wai), I am however reminded of the nice side of people.

68E, one bus every 30 min. Rather sparse in Hong Kong standard.

This time, I am going alone to 南生圍. From Tsing Yi, it's convenient take the bus 68E to Yuen Long. Then after a short 20 min walk I could reach the river crossing into 南生圍. Originally I didn't have a high expectation of the place. It's just another wetland area where tons of people (couple, family, groups of friends) visit. Me being there feels out of place. But all I wanted to take photos, nothing else.

橫水渡 river crossing, HK$7 per crossing.
"年終無休" in service throughout the year.

Nowadays there's only one river crossing in operation. The river is no wider than 30 meters. Given the monopoly, it's nice that the crossing charges only HK$7. Each trip carries up to 6-7 people, so the revenue in a single crossing is as much as HK$50. For a 1~2 min trip, there is some good money to make.

The crossing is powered by manual labor of the 擺渡人. It's calming to hear the oars slapping the water among the bird chirpings. I am glad they didn't motorize this.
When asked for a photo, the 擺渡人 specifically stopped rowing and posed for me. How nice.

The river crossing felt like a sort of ritual. From the bustling city I entered the countryside, where the nature is (relatively) undisturbed and (again relatively) preserved. Getting off the boat and out of the pier, the wide wetland revealed itself.

A place with nothing in the first glance, waiting to be explored.

My hidden passion is to ignore building code like this in my own (future? imaginary?) property.
There's power for the houses in the area, but totally void of street lights.
Abandoned? Hard to tell!

Right after setting foot on 南生圍, I was amazed by the calmness and lack of visitors in the area. Without the on-going COVID-19 omicron outbreak, I'd imagine the road packed with visitors, chatting loudly and taking photo everywhere. Today I am fortunate to have a quiet visit.

That somewhat liftened my mood. I even made an attempt to ask for photo from total strangers. To my surprise, I received no opposition.

Raising my camera to signal for a photo. The father and daughter didn't show opposition. She even smiled towards the camera.
The store didn't open even though it was a Saturday. Will this structure survive the next typhoon?

Now let's talk about 南生圍.

Various encounters in the area today.

南生圍 is a ecologically important wetland area to the north of Yuen Long, serving as a stopping place for migratory birds. It is an accessible urban enclave of nature that's under constant threat of land development proposals. Meanwhile, it's a popular recreational destination to cyclists, familes and bird viewers.

The one tall tree in the middle of the field. The foggy weather helped hiding the hedious sight of cityscape behind.
A long path penetrates 南生圍 all the way to the plain field in the middle of the island.

Walking along the beaten path on the western side of 南生圍, there are two columns of tress planted along the way, making some nice photo spots given the absence of visitors. Some would even walk down to the trench between the path and the vegetation below for photo.

Cyclers can be seen along the road. They probably came from the other side where land-based path connects to Au Tau. It's also possible to pay HK$1 extra to carry the bike across the river at the river crossing.

Enjoy a quiet afternoon walk with someone dear.
Wedding Bridge.

Not far down the path there's the famous Wedding Bridge which doesn't connect to anywhere (pier?) but serves simply as a good wedding photo spot. Warning sign can be seen reminding visitors they should get on the bridget at their own risks, as the bridge is not being actively maintained.

Middle age guys were fishing in the same pond and mostly sigh on the scores of couples taking photo on the spot. Whether they have caught any fish or not, their place would anyway serves as a nice front seat of any couple drama.

The bridge is not far from where the path diverges into some heavily fenced up abandoned buildings, where the nature slowly have it their way reclaiming the place.

Paster chipping off to reveal the brick construction underneath. How many year of decay did it take to reach this current state.
A more robust-looking structure. Unwelcoming, still.

There was nothing I wanted from the crowd. Plus I wanted to explore the less popular route, so I walked past the abandoned buildings into the narrow beaten path further into the center of 南生圍.

I was in a good mood, and have a good feeling about the general direction I was heading towards.

Tall grass growing on both sides of the path are growing towards the path itself. Give it a couple weeks this path would probably bury the path. The grass poking out actually left many scratches on my legs that I wasn't aware until I later washed my legs at home.

As I get further away from the main road, bird chirping and occasional movements in the tall grasses can be heard. The nature here seems to be overpowering humanity and wouldn't afraid of revealing themselves.

Walking through grasses on a barely visible path. At a latter point, an apparent path had became inaccessible due to spiky plants.
A tall tree growing at the end of a path, a crossroad actually. This feels like a scene from some old movie. I quite like this shot.
After taking two left turns from the previously mentioned crossroad, this time the road looks like some scene Hokkaido. Imagine the snow-covered field with only these tress standing.
Someone was flying a RC plane off from a distance. That sounded more like microjet than props. 10 times less annoying than drones.
The butterfly seemed not minding the presence of a human, going about minding its own business instead.
Walking in the field is very relaxing and calming.

As much as I wanted to stay on this rarely traversed path, I couldn't procced further because the apparent path is infested with spiky plants that grappled onto my clothes and scrated my legs.

Begrudgingly I returned to the main road, and after a short walk I reached the big plain field where all camping and picnicing happens.

There are some good views here, yet simply too many people for my taste.

I discovered a trap. Or simply a filled shallow hole. The kid said they made it but did not elaborate further. I didn't inquire further either.

Guess how deep it's. What's inside? This will remain a mystery for the rest of my life!
Autumn leaves falling in spring time. The golden color pleases me. Also reminded me of a recently popular color combination.
During COVID time the field has enough room for everybody. Imagine post-COVID in the summer…
Middle age males enjoying it the way I would. I am still young.

The sun was still high. It'd be unwise to call it a day then and there. Yet I can't come up with enough of good shots to justify staying.

Better carry on and move forward. That means walking along the path surrounding the island from the western end all the way down to the south eastern end. A long walk! Definite worth it in retrospect, as well.

Wetland surrounds the island behind well constructed stone barriers.
Some middle age males would bring their own monocular telescope to view the birds. My XT-20 with 18-55mm lens lacks both the resolution and focal length to capture anything significant.
The store was closed. In the entire 南生圍 I saw only one store open that day.

The road is a single-lane paved road shared by motor vehicles and bicycles. The sidewalk was flooded with runners painfully trying to breathe through the mask.

Stopped at some point to rehydrate and consume the snack I brought (Cheese cod sticks, 108 kcal). My favorite part of every photowalk.

5pm something. The birds are returning to the wetland in formation.
Nice golden sunlight reflected on the pool water caught my attention. Got off the main road to this spectacular pool.
There are other pools in the area. Some are not fenced off but I kept a low profile to avoid disturbing the residents.

As I got off from a detour, I asked a pair of daughter and monther for the way. Nice of the mother to also shared some nice photo spots in the area. Following her adivce I was able to capture some nice pictures.

ND gradient filter
Orange gradient filter. Which one do you like better?
No filter

This time I have brought my Moskva-5 medium format folder and a roll of Velvia 100. However I did not use them in this trip. The contrast in the scene was too high for color positive slide film to afford. Plus I couldn't find a good enough spot to drop my tripod.

One other thinkg I have also brought is some cheap plastic gradient filters, hoping they can lower the contrast level around the sun. Sure they did, but I think my film simulation setting has made the image too orangish with the filters on. Anyway, I see some more use to them when I do trichrome photography or even trichrome IR at some point in the future.


That's it. Dragging my tired body through the long lonesome walk to the bus station, I barely caught the bus on reduced availability after 20 minutes.

南生圍 is an interesting place. Not only does it provide a rarely seen nature right in the middle of the city, but also invite some really friend people. At the end of the day I feel more open-minded, curious and friendly to others.

Next time, I wish I could capture the legendary foggy sunrise of 南生圍!