[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: August 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A whirlwind trip through Yunnan.

After debating to go to Tibet and Xinjiang, I eventually settled to go to Yunnan with a friend for a 5-day power trip. I just so wanted to get away for a while now that the Games were ending. I remember glancing at the endless TV screens showing the closing ceremony in Lijiang. We went to Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangri-la (aka Zhongdian) and Kunming. Even though it was pissing rain for most of the time it was still a great trip with great company. We even met some Irish travellers! Avril from Tipperary, Michelle & Edel from Ga-ga-ga-Galway.
People were super friendly... most of the time. I mean there are always those dodgy folk who want to take advantage of tourists but we managed to pull through relatively unscathed... that goes for our wallets too! We mostly played it by ear and some of our most exciting stuff came randomly... After getting lost finding the hiking path up Tiger Leaping Gorge we were fortunate to find a van that took us to their hostel and along the way appreciating the killer views of the gorge. Other hikers we met described some horror stories along the path!

Anyway, here's a sneak preview of my photos. I got hundreds to convert and this shitty laptop can't handle it all.

Songzhanlin Temple - Shangri-la

Old City - Lijiang

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Scary-ass chairlift up West Mountains - Kunming

I officially waved goodbye to friends and colleagues last night along with L, who's also leaving back to HK today. I certainly won't miss the smoggy skies... I even got a hacking cough the moment I touched down in BJ! But I'll lament the duty of being the single producer for the entire Games! Tough as hell, time-consuming and frustrating at times. But I learned a lot. Learned how to deal with stress, working in a foreign environment and most importantly the new invigoration to seek out stories - human-life stories that deserve to be told.

I know I'll be glad to return and seeing everyone again, but that lingering feeling of change and new adventure will comfortably sink in again. Need time to think...

Here's my last Olympics video...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quick update on work...

I met Carl Lewis at a Budweiser party! Actually I had been waiting all night for Michael Phelps who had won his eight medal but the bastard was a no-show. Oh well, Lewis is definitely a great consolation!

This video on scalpers was a bit ad-hoc. I was a bit low on story ideas so I thought this might make a good filler. Not much of a story to it really other than that BOCOG are blatantly ignoring their own laws. Very professional.

Interview with Singaporese director Tan Siok Siok who produced a charming documentary on Beijing and the Olympics called Boomtown Beijing.

Sigh, not long left till this Olympic adventure comes to an end. I have at least two more videos incoming before I bid farewell to the Beijing Bureau. It's been... emotional. Right now I'm looking for a short holiday somewhere in the motherland. I've always wanted to go to Tibet but since the whole riot spiel, tourism is very regulated and I know I'm not going to see the 'real' Tibet. And Xinjiang! Well, those apparent terror attacks have certainly put that restive region on the map.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

A brief lull lately

I should've seen this coming. Ever since the Games started, this entire week has been very uneventful for me. I missed two key protests by Tibetan activists which would've made good video. It's also been quiet on the news front since most is dominated by sports coverage. So from now on I've had to come up with my own stories to do and stop relying on the editorial side to spoonfeed me all the time. So after a brief creative lull, I've finally got some ideas going. And although the days have been tough it's good to have something going again.

It's only one more week till the closing ceremony and I shall endeavour to do as much as I can. Hell, I haven't enjoyed a proper day off in a month. I'll sleep when I'm back in Hong Kong!
Speaking of the 'aul SAR, I've realised how lethargic I was back there compared to how I'm operating now. I always complain it's because there's a dearth of interesting stories to do in HK (I don't even read the City Section of our paper), and the most sensational ones are celebrity scandals or other inane subjects. But deep down I feel that's been my excuse to not really go out and explore, and instead rely on our editorial team to feed us stories. It's just that when we're on our shift duties we're mostly confined to our computers so we don't have much room or time to do our own material. For the past year it has kind of dumbed down by craving for real life stories. Subjects like adversity, tragedy and anything quirky really attracts me. And I know there's plenty of these in HK. It just gets dissolved within the shiny facade of our city. I must shape a new mindset for myself when I return.

The motive for completely changing my mindset is because well, every day gone is a day wasted if you're not aiming to achieve something. I fear I may succumb to a 'normal' and constrained life of work and socialising, instead of being that freedom-loving, outwardly and creative individual I cherish to be. I've chosen this path to be a journalist/multimedia producer and cannot imagine myself doing anything else. Yet sometimes I feel I take it for granted. One must always strive to improve and know that you're always on a path of learning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

There will be... must be a shitstorm after this

In the first instance of violations against media freedom during the Olympic Games, a British reporter from Independent News Television (ITN) was manhandled and detained while covering a Free Tibet protest near the Olympic Green.

This is another blatant act by police to clamp down on foreign journalists DESPITE China's promise of free, unhindered reporting of the Games! I hope the international media would have a bigger field day than how they responded when my colleague Felix Wong was detained last month. I don't mean to play the race card but this is after all, the first instance where a 'white' journalist has been detained in public. Before this, two Japanese photographers were allegedly beaten while covering the Xinjiang terror attacks.

On a more personal note of course I'm upset that I wasn't there when it happened. There's been a dearth of stories to cover as all the news is centered on sports now. I need to do something!!


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Welcome to a hazy Olympic dawn

Well it's finally here and I've got to say I was more anxious than excited about the Games' opening. Lousy work caused me to miss most of the opening ceremony. Though I was at Wangfujing underneath the big screen during the countdown. It was good to be part of the crowds at such an important moment rather than watching it at some dingy bar.

This week has been fairly brutal, but expected: From waking up at 2:30am to go cover the torch relay at the Great Wall to rushing to Tiananmen Square for an ad-hoc protest by Tibetan activists. My angle now has been adjusted to cover any protests or 'undesirable' scenes that the Chinese authorities don't want people to see.

Speaking of that ad-hoc protest, it was led by five foreign activists from Students for Free Tibet. A rather audacious protest and surrounded by patriotic Chinese. Unfortunately I couldn't get there in time but managed to snag the group's founder for an interview at the Square. John Hocaver says non-violent protests will continue. I wonder how many people he's got? Are we going to see droves of foreigners being deported throughout the Games? Anyway, I'm just glad I've finally done a video that gives a different perspective.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Linford Christie interview

Having initially feigned some interest into Triumph (the sultry lingerie maker), I went on to ask Linford Christie (their 'ambassador' - don't ask me why) questions about the Olympics. He was so cool! I also had a one-on-one (no jokes, please) with former Miss Hong Kong Michelle Lee but her answers were shite so I abandoned it. Sorry guys.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Countdown begins: One month

Just wanted to point out that it's one month to go before I leave Beijing. I thought I could recap my experiences so far these three months but they've honestly flew by. It feels like I've been on a personal retreat. I initially wanted to get away so much I was willing to do anything to get posted here, even though I couldn't give a toss about sports and the Games itself. Oh yes, and not to mention having to shaft for my own rent while my colleagues live it up at the 'company apartment'. Hah, but I'm over that really. It's been hard but fun so far. Come to think of it also feels like it's been a journalistic boot camp! Running a one-man operation in a foreign environment during the biggest media event in the world has its rewards, though. Experience. And that's how I've always wanted to work anyway, being my own boss and picking the stories I want.

Met a lot of interesting people along the way, especially some veteran foreign journalists. I don't tend to meet them much on the job in HK since we don't do hard news or go to pressers a lot. I listen attentively to their anecdotes and pompous stories because despite some of these guys' arrogance, they've got experience. And that's what separates us. Ironically however, but not in a negative sense, the two most interesting and like-minded people I've met so far are Hong Kongers. One's a newly-arrived who's a pseudo-journalist and multimedia practitioner like myself with an affinity for travelling to far-out places. Sounds exactly like me!
The other I'm surprised I had never met before in HK despite our mutual friends. A good photog and she's really lovely though - free-spirited and just purely amiable. *sigh*