Learning Cantonese: When in Doubt, Take a Walk

黃宇軒 Sampson Wong and 曾梓洋 Eric Tsang made their first “When in Doubt” walking video back in October 2020 and since then have gone from strength to strength. In their work, they combine urban geography with beautiful (don’t take your eyes off what’s happening in the background) images accompanied by a powerful piano soundtrack — at times the fusion is breathtakingly powerful and expresses with verve something of Hong Kong’s elusive city spirit. Recently, they have been experimenting with an added element, conversation, and this led me to transcribe the following video which shows Sampson and his friend Sammy walking through Kai Tak in search of the Kai Tak River. Throughout their journey, Sampson muses on the theme of 重組自然 or “reworking nature”. After finding the Kai Tak River, he comments:

The section of the Kai Tak River which we now see in San Po Kong did in fact undergo this same kind of process. Once upon a time, the residents of the area didn’t necessarily take much notice of its existence. Over the past ten or more years, thanks to the efforts of various parties, it has been transformed into a particularly beautiful part of the urban landscape in San Po Kong. After being beautified, brought back to life and cleaned up, this river is now liked by an ever-increasing number of people.

I still remember the first time I saw a “When in Doubt” video. It featured 石硤尾 Shek Kip Mei and when, after slowly winding his way through the Nam Shan Estate, Sampson reaches Tai Hung Sai Street, my heart nearly skipped a beat as he mooched along past the 彩龍大酒樓 Lucky Dragon restaurant, whose takeaway outlet round the back I visited frequently for lunch back in 2013. There’s something exhilarating about reconnecting with a place in this way, especially when you haven’t seen it for a long time. I felt the same in the video on 屯門Tuen Mun, when special guest Chong Suen strolls past the river channel in the vicinity of Tuen Tsz Wai. How many times have I done the same thing!

You can enjoy the Kai Tak video here. Follow the link to their channel and you can discover more of these walks for yourself. Even in places you might not be familiar with, you will still discover moments of the Hong Kong mystique, when music, image and the rhythm of movement come together in synergy — or perhaps even a sensuous “syn-energy”. You can also read up on the creation of the series in a Zolima Citymag article by Christopher Dewolf entitled “Sampson Wants You to Take a Walk“.

我係《懷疑人生就去》嘅 Sampson。平時我哋 channel 嘅散步片呢,多數都係一個人行嚟行去,而且冇人講嘢嘅。今次我哋試吓做一個新嘗試。

Caption: 懷疑人生就

我約咗 Sammy 出去散步,諗住由啟德行到去新蒲崗。

我哋成日都會話呢,其實城市裏便呢,冇嘢係唔自然嘅,因為即使係最人工嘅東西呢,佢都要用到自然嘅元素,例如呢,係起樓嘅混凝土啦,其實都係嚟自大自然嘅事物嚟嘅。噉所以呢,我哋反而呢,從城市研究嘅角度呢,會話呢,城市呢,就好似喺度 reworking nature 咁,即係重組自然,將大自然嘅一啲元素呢,變成我哋鍾意嘅一個安排,成為咗我哋呢個城市裏便見到嘅事物

● 嘗試 sèuhng4 si3 = to try | ● 元素 yùhn4 sou3 = an element | ● 混凝土 wahn6 yìhng4 tóu2 = concrete (building material) | ● 事物 sih6 maht6 = a thing | ● 重組 chùhng4 jóu2 = to restructure; to reorganize

I’m Sampson, from “When in Doubt, Take a Walk”. In most of the walking videos on our channel there is usually one person walking around here and there. Nobody speaks. But this time we would like to try something new.

Caption: When in Doubt, Take a Walk

I arranged to go out for a walk with Sammy with the intention of going from Kai Tak to San Po Kong.

We are always saying that in a city nothing is unnatural, because even the most artificial things made by humans make use of natural elements. For example, the concrete used in construction comes in fact from natural things. So for this reason, from the perspective of urban research, we tend to say that the city is reworking nature, changing elements from the natural world into arrangements that we like, into the things we see in our city.


另外一個呢,大家成日講嘅大自然嘅元素喺城市裏便出現嘅呢,就係水同埋河流喇。喺香港我哋更加多講嘅係海啦。去到啟德嘅時候呢,我成日都想搵呢,係北邊嘅一段啟德河呢,其實喺邊一度。但係因為最近呢,啟德大興土木呢,有時呢,佢成日都會被一啲圍板圍住嘅。今次呢,我帶 Sammy 呢,行到去呢個圍板望出去呢 . . .

● 河流 hòh4 làuh4 = a river | ● 大興土木 daaih6 hīng1 tóu2 muhk6 = go in for large-scale construction | ● 圍板 wàih4 báan2 = (?) temporary fencing (used for construction sites) | ● 圍 wàih4 = to enclose

Usually, we may perhaps think that Kai Tak is a high-density area, with a lot of people and a lot of buildings, but when we were out walking and if we looked carefully, there were in fact trees everywhere, planted in different ways. Other elements that everyone always talks about as appearing in cities are bodies of water and rivers. In Hong Kong, we talk more about the sea. When I went to Kai Tak, what I really wanted to find was the northern section of the Kai Tak River, which was somewhere here. But because just recently there is a lot of construction work going on in Kai Tak, the view of the river is generally blocked by temporary fencing. On this occasion, I took Sammy to look through the little holes in the fencing . . .

【2:00】 . . . 發現原來呢,喺啲窿仔裏便都見到啟德河嘅存在。第時呢,佢都會成為咗啟德呢一帶呢,最重要嘅風景呀。而家呢一刻呢,可能好多人都唔知道呢,其實北邊呢一部分啦¬——喺啟德呢一部分呢——都有一段啟德河。我哋呢,當日喺啲圍板後便呢,通過啲窿呢,望出去嘅時候呢,發現呢,有好多朋友呢,都跟住我哋一齊去望。佢哋都發現咗呢,原來有一條啟德河喺呢一度。有時呢,觀察城市就係咁呀——你開始去望呢,亦都會引導身邊嘅一啲人去望。原本見唔到嘅城市裏便嘅一啲嘢呢,都會因為你開始去望呢,可以引導其他人一齊去睇。

● 窿仔 lūng1 jái2 = a small hole | ● 第時 daih6 sìh4 = in the future, another day | ● 觀察 gūn1 chaat3 = to observe; to watch; to survey | ● 引導 yáhn5 douh6 = to guide; to lead

. . . and we found that we could see the Kai Tak River. One day, it will become the most important scenic spot in this area. At this point in time, many people may not be aware of this section of the Kai Tak River on the northern side of Kai Tak. When we looked through the holes in the fencing on that day, we found that many like-minded people were taking a look with us. They too discovered that here they could see the Kai Tak River. Sometimes, observing a city is like this. When you start looking at things, this can lead others to look, too. Others can be led to look at things in the city that were once invisible, just because you started to look at them.

【3:00】水呢,以種種唔同嘅形態呢,喺城市裏便存在,亦都係我哋觀察嘅一個目標。由啟德行到去新蒲崗呢,我哋就可以去到新蒲崗呢一邊南段嘅啟德河。呢條河呢,其實好有啟發性嘅,因為呢,十幾年前開始呢,全世界嘅城市呢,都開始覺得河流呢,應該係我一個我哋珍惜嘅資源,唔再係應該將佢覆蓋啦。例如係好似南韓呢,有一個特別著名嘅例子呢,就係清溪川一條呢,原本大家唔鍾意嘅河流呢,幾乎要將佢覆蓋㗎喇。而家呢,重新將佢打翻開變成大家都見到嘅一啲景觀。 我哋而家呢,見到嘅啟德河、新蒲崗嘅呢一段呢,其實都經歷過個咁樣嘅過程。原本呢,居民呢,未必咁留意到佢嘅存在。喺過去十幾年呢,各方嘅努力之下呢,重新將佢變為咗新蒲崗呢一帶呢,特別靚嘅一個城市景觀。經過美化啦、活化啦,同埋潔淨之後呢,大家都越嚟越鍾意呢條河。原本河流好功能性咁樣 . . .

● 形體 yìhng4 tái2 = 1. shape (of a person’s body) 2. form & structure| ● 資源 jī1 yùhn4 = resources | ● 覆蓋 fūk1 goi3 = to cover | ● 著名 jyu3 mìhng4 = famous; celebrated; well-known | ● 景觀 gíng2 gūn1 = a landscape | ● 美化 méih5 faa3 = to beautify | ● 活化 wuht6 faa3 = (?) to vivify; to inject life into (a place)

Water exists in the city in all kinds of different forms and is one of the objectives of our observation. From Kai Tak to San Po Kong, we can get to the southern section of the Kai Tak River in San Po Kong. This river really has a lot to teach us. This is because more than ten years ago cities all over the world began to think that rivers ought to be a treasured resource and should no longer be covered over. For instance, there is the very famous example of the Cheonggyecheon River in South Korea, a river which originally no one like and which people wanted to cover over. Now, it has been opened up again to become a landscape everyone has seen. The section of the Kai Tak River which we now see in San Po Kong did in fact undergo this same kind of process. Once upon a time, the residents of the area didn’t necessarily take much notice of its existence. Over the past ten or more years, thanks to the efforts of various parties, it has been transformed into a particularly beautiful part of the urban landscape in San Po Kong. After being beautified, brought back to life and cleaned up, this river is now liked by an ever-increasing number of people. In the old days, the river linked the local community . . .

【4:00】 . . . 去連結呢個社區。喺好耐之前呢,大家會喺度洗衫啦、打水啦,但係去到今時今日嘅城市河流呢,作為景觀話唔定呢,有另一種聚集街坊、俾大家喺度相遇嘅功能。

我同 Sammy 散步呢一次呢,剛好係榆木盛開嘅季節。我哋都遇到幾樖好靚嘅榆木。唔知大家有冇見得到呢?呢次散步遇上咗好多植物、動物,遇到好多雀仔,亦都呢,透過去觀察水呢,我哋經過咗啟德河。

最後呢,去到彩虹道體育館 . . .

● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 打水 dáa2 séui2 = to fetch water| ● 話唔定 waah6 mh4 dihng6 = perhaps; maybe | ● 聚集 jeuih6 jaahp6 = to gather; to assemble | ● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood | ● 相遇 sēung1 yuh6 = to meet each other | ● 榆木 yùh4 syuh6 = elm | ● 盛開 sihng6 hōi1 = in full bloom

. . . in very functional ways. A long time ago, people would wash their clothes in it and fetch water, but an urban river in today’s world may perhaps, as a scenic landscape, have another function of bringing together the local people.

On this walk with Sammy, it was the season for the elm trees to flower and we encountered several very beautiful elm trees. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed them. On this walk, we came across a lot of plants, animals and birds. In addition, by observing water, we passed along the Kai Tak River.

Finally, we arrived at the Choi Hung Road Sports Centre.

【5:00】. . . 同埋公園附近呢,遇上呢一個我好鍾意嘅一個噴水池。同 Sammy 介紹呢一度嘅時候呢,亦都講到呢,除咗呢一個噴水池呢,一個被人觀賞嘅元素之外呢,呢一帶呢,有好多好好嘅公共空間,好多人喺度休息,入夜之後呢,我同佢繼續行多一陣呢,就結束咗我哋今次嘅旅程。如果你從來未去過啟德,未去過新蒲崗,我建議你呢,跟我哋呢個路線去行吓。唔單止呢,可以用城市與自然做一個切入點,亦都可以留意吓呢一帶有啲乜嘢公共空間同埋公園。可以觀察一下啟德呢個急劇變化中嘅地帶,亦都可以睇吓呢,新蒲崗呢個老區。跟住我哋呢一個題目「城市與自然」周圍睇吓之餘呢,亦都可以發現一啲呢,你感到有趣嘅風景。希望你都去呢一帶散步,然後話返我哋聽,你鍾意睇啲乜嘢啦

● 噴水池 pan3 séui2 chìh4 = a fountain | ● 觀賞 gūn1 séung2 = to enjoy; to admire (a view) | ● 旅程 léuih5 chìhng4 = a journey | ● 切入點 chit3 yahp6 dím2 = (?) entry point | ● 急劇 gāp1 kehk6 = drastic | ● 周圍 jāu1 wàih4 = around; round; about

. . . and in the vicinity of the park, we came across a fountain that I really like. When I was introducing this place to Sammy, I also mentioned that, apart from the fountain, which was one element that was admired in this area, there were many excellent public spaces, which many people used for relaxation. After dark, we went on walking a bit longer, bringing an end to this journey of ours. If you have never been to Kai Tak or San Po Kong, I recommend that you follow the route we took. You can use “City and Nature” as your entry point. In addition, you can also pay attention to the public spaces and parks in this area. You can observe Kai Tak, this area in the midst of drastic change. You can also take a look at the old district of San Po Kong. In addition to having a good look around in accordance with out topic “City and Nature”, you can also find some scenery that you think is interesting. I hope you will come to this area for a walk, then afterwards tell us what you liked.


● It is the 1 July 2019, and the big glass door of the Legco building is being battered by protestors repeatedly ramming it with an old metal trolley. As the glass begins to crack, our main characters — 阿綠 Ah Luk, the New Zealander 阿奇 Ah Ki, Ah Luk’s daughter 孚翠 Fu-cheui and the hapless Australian陳之一 Chan Chi-yat — all react to what they see in the direct broadcast of the events, projecting their personal concerns onto this pivotal moment in Hong Kong’s history.

Soundtrack: “Thank you Disillusionment”


冇耐之後,一點幾嘅時候,阿綠嘅手機屏幕上出現一個戴住帽同埋口罩嘅黑衣男人,佢右手揸住鐵通,跑到立法會大樓門前,不停撞擊玻璃門。喺圍觀嘅人群入面,有唔少人試圖阻止,包括幾個議員(黑衫人:「立法會已經死咗喇!」 胡志偉:「你咁樣撞落去,連你都死呀!」),可惜呢啲勸告一啲作用都冇,玻璃門嘅裂痕越打越長,慢慢呈現類似蜘蛛網般縱橫交錯嘅幾何圖像。「突破 . . .」阿綠喃喃自語。「我而家想有一個細微嘅突破!」同一時間,手持鐵通嘅男人繼續大力咁向玻璃門打落去。

與此同時,喺嘉道理農場值班嘅阿奇,帶住悠閒嘅心情,漫步前往觀音山頂峰。除咗耐唔耐留意一下立法會衝擊嘅直播之外,佢個腦冇辦法停落嚟,無時無刻都諗住自己愛得神魂顛倒嘅嗰個「佢」。過年時雖然喺阿綠屋企請教過杯仙,但阿奇都唔肯定係咪可以捉緊對方,擔心對方有冇同樣嘅心意。但係最近,經歷咗一個既彎曲又奇妙嘅過程之後,終於水落石出,阿奇亦得到佢夢寐以求嘅答案。去到呢個時候,揮動鐵管嘅人已經唔見咗,替佢接力嘅係一班示威者,佢哋唔知喺邊度揾到一架裝住紙皮嘅鐵籠車,來來回回不停咁撞擊佈滿裂縫嘅玻璃門。「係啦!」紐西蘭男人突然精神起嚟,自言自語咁話:「要揾到真愛 . . . 一定要 . . . 一定能夠堅持落去!」呢個時候,另一位立法會議員梁耀忠企喺玻璃門前,盡力勸阻示威者唔好衝擊立法會。但係經過一番理論之後,佢最終被人拉倒,於是嗰架鐵籠車繼續一次又一次咁撞落去。立法會大樓入面嘅警員提高警戒級別,舉起紅旗,試圖透過呢個手段叫停示威者。見到紅旗,阿奇又諗起愛情呢股抵擋唔住嘅魔力。仲記唔記得裸體女模特兒嘅相片?「花花弗弗、冷酷無情」嘅阿奇喺呢一刻,一早已經將被摺埋、擺埋一邊嘅黃小姐忘得一乾二淨。