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Occupy Hong Kong Protests Part 1—Mong Kok

Minion-themed rubbish bins along one of the barricades at Shan Tung Street, adding an element of fun and humour to the protests.

The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong started on 28 Sep 2014 outside the Central Government Complex at Admiralty and soon spread to Mong Kok and Causeway Bay as well. Despite some bouts of clashes between the pro-democracy and anti-occupy protestors (which the mainstream media love to emphasise on), the protest appears to be a largely peaceful event. There were also poignant images of protesters shielding the policemen at the scene, despite them using teargas on the protesters.

The protest eventually became known as the “Umbrella Movement” due to the protesters using their umbrellas as a shield against tear gas used by the police in an attempt to try to disperse them.

It so happened that the protests coincided with my short holiday there with my parents, and their fears that the protesters would turn violent (as depicted by the media) was thankfully largely unfounded. My hotel was very close to the Mong Kok site, so we ventured out to have a look as well as to take some photos. After all, how many times do you get to see a protest at such a scale? This sort of event won’t last more than 10 minutes in Singapore.

Although there were a couple of clashes a few days before we arrived, it appeared to have returned to a peaceful state. The protest site stretches over Nathan Road, and resembles more of a campsite or carnival than a protest.

A protestor gives a speech to a small crowd at the Mongkok site.
Passers-by read the posters put up on a wall by the protestors at Mong Kok.
A person writes a note on a short wall adorned with hand-made posters.
Hand-made posters pasted on one of the barricades in Mongkok.
A woman adjusts the umbrella held by a cardboard figure of China premier, Xi Jinping.
A group of people having a meal and making posters. They give a “picnic” kind of feel to the place.
A couple enjoys a quiet moment alone in their tent.
Several of these tents are seen at the various protest sites, shielding the protesters from the elements and providing them a place to rest/sleep.
This group of tents has a name (Nathan Estate) and each tent even has as “house number”! They are free to use if unoccupied.
Umbrellas, including the signature yellow umbrella, and tents. Several strips of paper on it call for true suffrage.
A group of people making paper umbrellas at the Mong Kok protest site.

This duo was singing Canto band Beyond’s 海阔天空 (Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies), one of the unofficial anthems of the protest. They saw me taking photos and posed for a shot!

Buskers

It’s indeed a very relaxing atmosphere. There are people sitting on sofas having a chat.

Groups of people relaxing on the sofas at the Mongkok site.

With the protesters occupying much of Nathan Road, the bus stops have to be temporarily suspended.

A bus stop along Nathan Road was temporarily suspended.

Some of the barricades remind me of the one in Les Misérables, being made up of all sorts of stuff—in this case, wooden poles, pallets and other knick knacks.

Make-shift barricade made of wooden poles and wooden pallets.

Over the other side, there’s this amusing pair of mannequin legs with umbrellas.

A pair of mannequin legs at one of the makeshift barricades along Nathan Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong.
A man walks past a barricade at the Mongkok protest site in Hong Kong.
A man reads the newspaper beside a barricade at Mong Kok, Hong Kong.

More photos can be seen in my Flickr Album. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the next blog post where I cover the Admiralty site—the main site of the protests.

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