Time is ticking…

They say you don’t miss your water ’till the well runs dry, but what about when you can see it evaporating before your eyes? Makes you wanna dive in and gulp down the last few litres before it’s gone forever!

That’s a bit like the way I feel right now. As much as China has been a continual source of frustration and torment for me, I’m sure there will be some things I’ll miss about the place once I’m gone.

It’s only 17 full days to go! So I’ve decided to get out and savour all the things that I’ll miss when I look back on the cumulative 8 or 9 years I’ve spent in this place. One last time.

Your guess is as good as mine! This was outside a small hair salon in Shangshe urban village.

The first thing that popped into my mind of course, was the urban villages. To me, they are a photographic smorgasbord. So on one of my few days off before I finish work here, I made a trip back to some of the villages. Firstly I went to Shangshe village, which I’d visited briefly at the end of a long day, and vowed to return to to explore in a little more depth. While it was relatively uninspiring that day, I thoroughly enjoyed navigating the alleyways and really appreciated the cool escape from the Guangzhou heat and the laid-back atmosphere.


I’ve been known to “lurk” in alleys waiting for people to come by and complete the image. I loved the texture of the wall to the left, and expected the sunlight ahead would look cool when it hit people walking by. It was OK, nothing brilliant came of it, though. I think it’s part anticipation and quick reflexes, but also part luck (had someone walked around the corner dressed in white and with a particular expression, things may have been different). That’s one thing I love – it’s like hunting – there’s a certain thrill when you land a big one! It was not to be on that day, however.

I then visited another urban village that I spotted on Google Maps but hadn’t been to previously. After snapping some labourers and a local resident or two, I headed to Redtory. The relatively new art district in Guangzhou, Redtory is the result of studios and galleries taking over abandoned industrial complexes in the East of the city. The place has a great vibe, as creativity is not something you come across widely in China, so being surrounded by fellow photographers, designers and artists – along with people who appreciate their work – is refreshing. It made me keen to get into the local creative scene as soon as I arrive in Hochiminh City!

Urban village labour
The narrow alleyways – combined with a ban on motorbikes and similar transport in Guangzhou – means that in order to build inside an urban village, labourers have to cart all materials to the site by hand. These labourers are carting cement for construction inside a village near Tancun.

Redtory is a great place for textures like this. It’s all a little run down, but for once, they realise that this adds to the charm of the place. I didn’t visit often, but I’m gonna miss that place!

As time ticks by, I feel increasing pressure to make the most of my time left in China. I’m sure I will never live in this nation again, and this time it’s not an empty promise. Honestly! So to leave on a good note, I’m gonna depart with fresh memories of all the things I like about the place, and plenty of images to help me reminisce.