Hong Kong, Polaroids, and then some

June 18, 2012

We do live in a small world–The front facade of one of the most beautifully-made rides in Hong Kong Disneyland, “It’s a Small World”, taken December of last year. Riding this the third time never fails to give me tingles all over, seeing the intricately-made handcrafted dolls singing and dancing to the title song in different world languages.

I am grateful to have had several chances to visit to Hong Kong (since I was five). This world-class urban city has then by default become one of my most favorite places in the world (next to London). The reason for my ardent love for this bustling metropolis is less of it being a shopping and food haven, but more of its heaven-sent metro system and walk-friendly streets, the lively art scene, the admirable work culture where the value of hard work is evident, the huge airport–one of the best in the world–and the list goes on.

Being a city girl at heart, Hong Kong’s fast-paced lifestyle gives me rushes of exhilaration and excitement. Strangely, I like seeing people who seem to be up on their toes all the time and always rushing somewhere–Hong Kong people are the epitome of a multi-tasker. They skillfully walk on streets and ride the MTR while intensely preoccupied with their tablets and mobile phones (which now usually mean Samsung Galaxy S3s, iPads, and iPhone 4S‘s), and the service in restaurants and stores is usually speedy and fuss-free.

My family and I recently visited Hong Kong, and for several complicated reasons, my parents asked me not to bring my camera. As I want to practice taking better photos in new places, I was reluctant to leave it at home. But then, I had been able to focus better on being in the moment without it, such as paying complete attention to conversations, and fully experiencing the places and the things I run into without stopping to document them. Apart from the physical burden of lugging around a heavy camera, I felt considerably lighter with one less thing to worry about while traveling.

This then also gave me an opportunity to test my resourcefulness, I guess. In this case, it meant experimenting with a new Apple app I recently discovered, called Polamatic. I made virtual Polaroids with a few shots I captured from our trip with my iPod Touch, which has a low-quality camera. Making use of the right filters, I was able to make the photos look slightly clearer, brighter, and overall more pleasing to look at.

To introduce the app, I made a quick step-by-step guide on how to use Polamatic. It’s so simple to use, really, and perhaps my real purpose for making this guide is more of to show Polamatic’s pretty interface.


1. Capture a photo to make into a Polaroid.

2. Customize it.

3. Share it, then save it.

little bits of my recent HK trip, captured in Polaroids:

As you may notice, I visited a lot of art exhibits. Almost every mall we visited had an art exhibit going on. If everything on this trip went my way, I would have skipped the shopping and eating altogether and spend the next four days on a cultural tour around the city, spend all afternoon in PageOne, visit the public library (which I hear is huge), read for hours in cozy cafés, have small chats with interesting people. I would also bring my camera along with me and capture photos of the skyline, the skies, the towering skyscrapers. I’d go to Disneyland and look for hidden places and that few people know about. That would be an ideal HK trip. But then, my family had other plans. I don’t mind, though! I am always fond of traveling with them.

(Okay, maybe I do mind a little, haha. I would really love to travel to HK alone someday.)


Polamatic 1.0 for iPhone and iPod Touch is available worldwide for $0.99 USD in Apple’s App Store.

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© 2014 Desiree Grace Tan. All Rights Reserved.

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