Jeremiah Rogers

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Mon, Oct 6, 2014

Two days ago I flew into Hong Kong from Tokyo to see and photograph the protests. There has been surprisingly little action to see. In contrast to what you might see in the media this is a very peaceful protest. It’s mostly people sitting around and talking.

That said it is a large scale protest. Huge sections of Hong Kong are shut down to traffic. Outside of these areas you can barely tell that anything is going on. 90% of the city feels totally normal. But inside the barricades there is no traffic and a rare chance to see Hong Kong sights without any cars or trains.

A few local professors have shown up to teach impromptu classes to the students who may be missing school. I’ve also seen students feeding each other and was offered food while I sat down to edit these photos on the side of the road.

Everyone I’ve met has been intelligent, well spoken and very friendly. I hope that this ends peacefully.

A man walks along railroad tracks in Central Hong Kong that can’t be used because they are blocked.

This man climbed on top of a pedestrian overpass near Admiralty station and refused to come down. Firefighters tried to talk him down, setup an inflatable mat below him, and then gave him an intercom which he used to address the crowd asking them to open the streets so his kids could go to school. My local friends told me rumors that he was a hired actor.

The major streets are barricaded.

No one knows where the barricade materials came from. There are rumors that mafia or foreign governments could be supplying the goods. One friend said he found weapons inside a cache of goods headed for his supply depo. His theory is that the weapons were put there by gangs who may want access to them so they can use them later to break up protests. He said protest organizers told him to check the bushes for other weapons.

Sitting on a highway overpass overlooking the city.

Mending the barricade.

Large crowds turned out around 8pm in Admiralty station.

Umbrellas and inspirational posters or notes cover almost every surface.

The oldest protester I saw with the strongest message.

Protestors on a highway overpass leading into the Admiralty area of Hong Kong.

Not everyone agrees with the protests.

Protesters sleeping right outside the police barricade to the Chief Executive’s office.

Police on one side of the barricade. Media and protesters on the other side.

At 4 am we decided to go home. Most people were sleeping in the streets, but we found this couple reading a book together inside a supply depo.

I’ll write more and update this article later but it’s now 8 am local time and I’ve been up all night. If you have any questions for the protesters or about what’s going on I’ll be in Hong Kong for the next few days, contact me and I’ll get back to you or post on the blog.

Thu, Jul 31, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand (written last week)

I just got back to Thailand after nine days in Beijing and I’m again amazed at how often people in Thailand smile and laugh with each other in public. In Beijing the streets feel absolutely cold. It’s the basic body language and tones: In Beijing people bump into each other without apology, talk loudly in a way that sounds aggressive, and often either don’t make eye contact when talking or stare.

I don’t think I can accept the idea that this is all cultural and that I’m just an uninformed cultural tourist. There are many signs of communication that go below spoken language. The tones people use to talk to each other, if they look at each other, and their body language around each other is much harsher in China than in any other country I’ve visited.

Am I just an uninformed cultural tourist? Think about training a dog: the dog doesn’t know anything about language but he can understand laughing, smiling, tone, and body language. If I smile and talk lightly to the dog he knows I’m happy and if I stare at him and use a sharp tone he knows I’m upset. These basic cues are good enough to teach a dog right from wrong.

I have very limited Mandarin skills so I focus on the cross cultural body cues. I’m operating at the level of a dog. In Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam people smile at me when I walk into their store. In China they tend to stare at me and say nothing. In Japan, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam if I smile at someone on the street they smile back. In China I get an empty stare that says “you don’t exist.”

Beijing is an uncomfortable place as a western tourist. I was hoping that after a spending a few weeks there I’d start to like it, but it’s just so cold and unfriendly and expensive that I’m less willing to tolerate the other discomforts. Thailand is cheaper than China, cleaner than China, and the people are much more friendly and welcoming.

I’ll probably periodically drop into China again to visit friends and see sights, and especially try to visit southern China, but my experiences in Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao are very bothersome and make unlikely to go back.

Fri, Jul 25, 2014

Beijing, China.

I was walking with a friend and saw this kid on a red couch in the middle of the sidewalk eating ice cream. About 20 feet later I stopped my friend and said “I really want to take a picture of that kid”. She said “Well just go take a picture of the kid!”. So we walked back, asked him, and he said yes.

One of my first shots from a 35mm lens. ISO 1000, f/2, 11000 sec.

Thu, Jul 24, 2014

Hutongs are alley neighorborhoods in Beijing. Some of the buildings are over 500 years old. My local friend David gave me a tour of the Hutongs on streets 4-6 near the DongSi metro in Beijing today. This was my first time working with a local translator and guide. We didn’t get a ton of portraits — I’m still hesitant to ask people for pictures — but I’m very happy with the pictures we did get.