Au Wei – Shipwright, Junk Builder

When we arrive at the deserted Kwong Ming Shipyard after a short walk along Tam Kung Temple Road in Shau Kei Wan, Mr Au (亞神) is asleep. His dog eyes us suspiciously and barks the drowsy shipwright awake. Mr Au’s somnolence makes sense for a semi-retired 87-year-old and given the steep decline in the construction of wooden boats in Hong Kong. Boatbuilding has been his livelihood for over 60 years. Things were different in the past, and as recently as the 1990s, his yard produced most of the wooden boats built locally. Continue reading “Au Wei – Shipwright, Junk Builder”

Yum Wai-sang, Traditional Letterpress Printer

It’s a late October morning and the city has shut down as typhoon Haima makes landfall. Despite the storm outside it’s business as usual at the Kwong Wah Printing Company on Sai Street in the quiet neighbourhood of Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan. In fact Yum Wai-sang, the second generation owner of Kwong Wah has been running his letterpress late into the night in spite of the storm. Pulling levers, turning knobs and daubing ink with a palette knife, Mr. Yum makes minute adjustments and calibrations to a huge jet black press. It inks itself and pumps out prints, by the hundred, with Teutonic precision. It pneumatically inhales paper like a champion sprinter regulates breath, with easy power. Continue reading “Yum Wai-sang, Traditional Letterpress Printer”

Mark Lau, Wan Chai Barber

Since 1962 Oi Kwan Barber’s has been running out of a tin shack in an alley between two old Wan Chai tenement buildings.  Over five decades the little shop on Spring Garden Lane has taken care of the neighbourhood’s barbering, serving men from all walks of life who reclined, gossiped, debated and joked while the barber, Master Lau, lathered and shaved, clipped and faded under the gentle breeze of a revolving fan.   Continue reading “Mark Lau, Wan Chai Barber”