Best of Hong Kong

Surreal images offer new perspectives of Hong Kong's most popular sites

Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNNPublished 24th October 2017
Hong Kong (CNN) — To Hong Kong hikers, Kowloon's Fei Ngo Shan hill is an instantly recognizable site.
But not the way Tommy Fung, the man behind playful Instagram account Surreal HK, depicts it.
In his Photoshopped version, one of Hong Kong's iconic Mister Softee trucks is parked on the top of the 1,975-feet-tall hill.
"Fei Ngo Shan was a challenging hike," explains Fung, a Hong Kong-based photographer, of the inspiration behind his doctored image.
"I was so exhausted when I reached the peak and I thought to myself, 'how perfect it'd be to have an ice cream truck right here, right now.'"
It's just one of the many images he's shared on Surreal HK, which features altered images of Hong Kong, showcasing local culture and attractions in a comical way.
Growing up in Venezuela, Fung moved to Hong Kong, his birthplace, last year and founded Surreal HK earlier in 2017.
"I started the page because I noticed how unhappy most Hong Kongers were," he says.
"It's incomprehensible to me -- Hong Kong is a wealthy city without the problems we used to face in Venezuela. So many of my posts are like telling a joke by my images."
Whimsical examples include a flying taxi -- which plays on the local slang "fei dik" (or fly taxi), meaning to get somewhere by taxi in a great hurry -- and pedestrians armed with lightsabers on the busiest zebra crossing in Causeway Bay.

Behind the scenes

"I didn't get many responses in the first two months -- and when I did, they were mostly negative, saying my images were 'fake' and 'doctored,'" says Fung.
"They didn't understand the messages behind the images."
A few months in, Surreal HK now has a following of more than 18,000 on Instagram and is slowly growing. Each image is usually composed of two to three photos taken by Fung and takes at least six hours to edit.
"When I've an idea, I'd write it down and think of the kinds of photos I need to take in order to create this one image," says Fung.
One of his more difficult projects is a post featuring an extra-long nine-seater taxi.
"I went to Mongkok three times to get the right shot," says Fung.
"I'd stand in the middle of the road and wait for a taxi to drive by. Sometimes passersby got in the shot and sometimes there were ads plastered on taxis."

Secret Hong Kong spots

The project has taken Fung to various places around Hong Kong. Alongside cityscapes, nature is a frequent theme.
"There are many photo opportunities in Hong Kong -- whether you're in urban centers, in country parks, or combining both at the same time," he says.
"The beauty of Hong Kong is that you can easily commute to a place that could just be anywhere else in the world in an hour."
Fung particularly appreciates the beaches scattered around the islands in Sai Kung.
His favorite hike is up High West Mountain, located near the more popular Tai Ping Shan (aka Victoria Peak).
"You don't see as many skyscrapers from there. Instead, you're surrounded by hills just after a fairly easy hike.
"It offers the most amazing view of Hong Kong."

Tackling current affairs in a light-hearted way

Many of Fung's works are inspired by current city events.
These include pictures focused on the recent Hungry Ghost Festival and a series on Typhoon Hato -- the strongest storm to sweep the city in five years.
"I hope that my project can keep up with what's going on in society," says Fung.
He's also used his work to voice his opinion on the recent debate over whether the government should develop country park to build more residential buildings.
Fung turned a reservoir into a private parking dock for yachts in one post.
"There are lands available in Hong Kong," he says.
"The real problem is that the lands aren't used in a way which serves what most people need -- instead they're built into luxury buildings for a small group of people.
"My work tries to show the same idea -- destroying nature for the benefits of a small group of people. By using a light-hearted way, we can encourage conversations on the less-addressed issues.
"I think this is what this project should be about," says Fung.