Last Fall I went on a month-long trip to Hong Kong with my parents. It was my first visit and their first time back since they immigrated to the United States 50 years ago. My first impression of Hong Kong was that it was exactly like all the movies and tv shows I’ve consumed. An urban metropolis packed with people who spoke Cantonese (like me!) and had access to delicious Chinese food at every corner. I ran around the city and saw things you’d expect: people in suits going to work, students in uniform, people on the street smoking cigarettes, tourists, nannies chilling outside of the MTR on Sundays, etc. Hong Kong reminded me of every other city I’ve traveled to –if no one spoke English.
My parents were on the opposite end of the spectrum. Both of them grew up in Hong Kong before immigrating to California in the late 1960s. Hong Kong was familiar and yet considerably different. When they left Hong Kong was still under British control and not officially part of China. According to my Mom you couldn’t drive from the airport and into the city when she was a kid. Back then you’d have had to take a ferry across. The buildings weren’t as tall either.
The most fascinating aspect of visiting Hong Kong was observing both of my parents re-experience their home. There was a strong sense of nostalgia for the two of them. My Mom was thrilled to be back with her old friends and my Dad went to visit his old apartment. However, both of them felt lost of the majority of the time. A lot of construction and change had occurred in the last 50 years. My parents couldn’t recognize any of the streets. With this in mind I decided to turn my camera’s lens in their direction and document the experience of making new memories from old ones.
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