"Sometimes people around you won't understand your journey. They don't need too."
Thank you Maren...
It's probably fair to assume that "journey" in this case means, your "personal journey." But even our travels can be part of our personal journey. I've been traveling internationally since the crisp fall October air carried me to Shanghai China many years back. I made that first journey in 2005 on board EVA Flight 712 from LAX direct to Shanghai. I was young, I was nervous and I didn't know what to expect. I was excited, and adventurous and I had good people waiting for me.
I'm in a unique position. I make my living selling office stationary. I realize my passion by creating Marked and helping others create their products. This has afforded me the flexibility which allows me to travel. My past landed me in a place that I never imagined being and having been there has opened my eyes to things that only some people get to see. I have many people to thank for this and its with them in mind that I write these posts.
I have traveled back to Asia many times since then, however it was that first trip that has acted as a solid base and has supported my "Journey". I'm always on the hunt. Like my old Springer Spaniel Pepper, hunting, trying to sniff out something to chase. Looking for excitement, a new adventure, a new friendship, or a new place to simply take a rest and enjoy the moment. But instead of sharing memories made in the past, I'm going to start with this new series called "Traveling with Marked."
Her name was Wing. A seemingly bright person, with an inviting personality and the inherent ability to make friends at "hello"! She works at a store in Wanchai HK called Kapok, a store that I've had particular interest in selling Marked Leather to. After some browsing and some joking about my overstuffed pack-back, made by my good friends at Fidelis Co., she reminded me of the sale rack where I continued to browse and make small talk. Together we managed to fill my back pack with a new purchase.
This visit wasn't about selling Marked but more about window shopping and making new friends in the maker/designer community within Hong Kong. This has been a goal of mine for a while and I was hoping that Wing could be the connection into that crowd of people. Creative minds need to be around other creatives because in a city filled with finance, insurance, and consultants, conversations dry out quickly, even in the middle of a typhoon, this and the event that someone would like to collaborate on a cool project.
Wing graciously accepted my request by offering to pass out my business card. She took it one step further making a tentative plan to introduce me to her friend Micheal. "You'll love Michael, he's such and interesting guy. He's got this awesome apartment in Yau Ma Tei with vintage furniture and he knows everybody, even all the prostitutes in the building." I chuckled a little as I thought about his out going personality. I didn't assume he knew them on an intimate level, but the fact that he knew them as people was cool. "He even makes honey from the bees that he raises on his rooftop. He's in China now visiting some of our friends but he'll be back on Thursday so I can introduce you then."
I met Wing on the corner of Hamilton Street and Shanghai Road just a block from the MTR stop, Yau Ma Tei. Wing greeted me with the same cheerful personality that I remembered from two days earlier. She had on a gray shall like coat, a knitted scarf and hat complimented the coat. It was quite nice. Not ever meeting Wing for more than 20 minutes, I felt that her outfit appealed to her personality, thought out, simple sophisticated, appropriate and comfortable to be around. We continued walking to meet Michael.
The picture that I show in this blog is of Michael and his current project. I'm calling it a project because creative people like Michael always have more than one thing going on. It was easy to see that Michael was much more than what Wing had originally mentioned. Michael simply calls it Pai Dong which means Street Kiosk.
Michael Leung, self described as a, designer, bee-keeper, and urban farmer in Hong Kong. My old friends father once told him, "good people attract good people,"and on this day this was certainly the case. I must add that I expected something totally different. I thought that perhaps we would be meeting in the apartment that Wing had described. I was expecting Michael to be wearing some of his creations, but as we walked up to the kiosk, I was pleasantly surprised that we weren't in fact going to his apartment, and Michael wasn't dressed in designer apparel. Instead a more interesting place and a very real, pleasant and humble person was who I was introduced to. He was a handsome guy with an English accent. He wore normal street clothes just like the day required him to wear. He's creative and passionate about creating a vibe with his Hamilton Street Kiosk. Wearing a designer label in this environment would defeat the purpose.
As we continued to chat he told me about the interesting people on Hamilton Street. Homelessness certainly isn't a stranger to HK and I was introduced to a homeless guy who's made shelter in an abandoned kiosk just across from Michael's kiosk. I will refer to him as the neighbor. The neighbor has a talent and very beautiful brush strokes. Michael realized this and commissioned the neighbor to create Fai chun.
This is just one way Michael his creating opportunity on Hamilton Street. There are also "pay-what-you-can" boxes. These boxes are to collect payment for the other things that are either accumulated or donated by and for the local people of Hamilton Street and the neighborhood. In most cases there isn't a price tag attached, some times there is. I bought some homemade tea that a local grandma made. I paid 20HKD for the packet with dehydrated, flowers, raisins and other ingredients.
You can purchase books, organic bananas, flowers and even a woven basket made from plastic pallet ties. The assortment is most often an eclectic compilation of second hand clothes, to a plastic chair from back when they were made "good." You can also donate. There's also a makeshift art gallery that soon will become reality. A local artist has drawn the familiar faces seen in the neighborhood and those will be on display soon. You can follow Paidong here: https://www.tumblr.com/search/paidong
Too often we are preoccupied with the destination that we forget about the journey. When we travel it's easy to be pre-occupied with shopping, eating and the nightlife and we forget about the real hidden treasures that a city has to uncover. Unforeseen events and run-ins with strangers can be some of the most delightful inspiring moments in our lives. Thank you Wing and Michael for being who you are and for allowing a complete stranger to reach out and make friends.
I ultimately like to travel alone, but this thought makes me think that besides my leather satchel, a photographer would make the best travel buddy.
Please check back in May as I post another "Traveling with Marked" and make a visit to Pai dong to see Micheal.
To read more about Pai dong and Michael, please see the below links. Please watch some of Michael's videos at: http://www.studioleung.com/