「每個人都可以成為『城市漫遊者』。」城市研究學者黃宇軒（Sampson）說，散步是一種取材，城市像一所博物館，予人源源不絕的靈感。「自上年疫情開始，人人都談論本地旅遊，當時我寫了一篇關於『城市散步學』的文章，鼓勵人們放慢腳步、細心觀看城市的美麗。除了介紹不同地區的散步路線，也建議大家以不同的角度來散步，例如是只看樓梯或唐樓的顏色，從中發掘屬於自己的『Ways of seeing the city』。」
Taking a stroll can be quite personal and private. A walk with no aim can be straightforward and unambiguous, but it can also be meaningful if we look at our surroundings with a new perspective. Mizumaru Anzai loved looking at beautiful women as he strolled. The stunning married women in Jiyugaoka, fashion models in Aoyama, and the young Gyaru in Shibuya became the inspiration for his book, Stunning Women’s Tokyo Stroll. He found that seemingly unremarkable strolls could, after all, be fun and interesting. As I flipped through Anzai’s book, I couldn’t stop wondering, could such a strolling map exist for Hong Kong?
“Everyone can be a ‘flâneur’.” According to Sampson Wong, a Hong Kong urbanist and artist, walking around the city is a way to generate inspiration. The city itself is like a museum, a place with endless inspiration. “Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, everyone has been talking about local tourism. I wrote an article at that time on urban strolling, trying to encourage people to slow down and observe the beauty of the city. In addition to introducing walking routes in different areas, I also suggested people take on different perspectives when they stroll. For example, they could focus on observing the stairs or the colors of tenement buildings. From that, they can discover their own ‘ways of seeing the city’.”
由附有相片的文字版散步地圖，到伴隨音樂、實地拍攝的散步影片，散步這件本來是稀鬆平常的事，忽爾被認真地談論起來。「自從疫情爆發以來，我們無法到外國旅遊，於是萌生起推介大家在家附近散步的想法，並寫了一篇關於本地散步的文章。也許在那個時候，『城市散步學』特別能觸動大家，推動我以影像的方式來製作香港的散步地圖。我找了好友Eric拍片、水金創作音樂，建立了YouTube頻道《懷疑人生就去散步》。我們參考YouTuber Kraig Adams的行山影片的拍攝手法，以第三身的角度拍攝，多了一份電影感。」
Starting with just simple texts and photos, to eventually including videos with background music, the walking map turns the simple act of walking into a subject of discussion. “With the outbreak of the pandemic, overseas travel is brought to a halt. The idea of promoting strolling in local neighbourhoods came to my mind and I wrote an article about it. I guess the idea of ‘urban strolling’ was particularly relatable at that time. It encouraged me to create video footage of local walks. My friend Eric did the shooting, and Shui Kam created the music. We created a YouTube channel called, When in doubt, take a walk. We made reference to the YouTuber Kraig Adams’ hiking videos, and shot our videos from a third person perspective making the outputs a bit like a movie.”
Sampson recalled that back in July of last year, the city was going through turmoil. The feeling of powerlessness was just overwhelming. It was during that time, the slogan of “I really love Hong Kong” started to appear, and he pondered how this sentiment could be personified. “Hong Kong is a very interesting city, with great disparity between rich and poor, high population density, and the juxtaposition of old and new, as well as the East and the West. Every place has its own character, and you can feel that perpetual change when you are there. We hope to reconnect the people of Hong Kong with their city using our videos. We also want to record what the city is going through.”
It is inevitable to feel confused and frustrated at some points in life. “When you are in doubt about the world, you will observe, discuss, and think a little more, trying to find the answer.” Though you might not find an answer after taking a walk, it gives you a chance to roam through the city and calm your mind. We might not be able to understand everything that happens in the world, but we can opt to observe what’s happening carefully and attentively. This is also a way to show our love for the city. “Some people told us that from our videos, they saw a Hong Kong that they have never seen before. They got emotional and started crying watching the videos.”
Since the release of When in doubt, take a walk in To Kwa Wan, there have been more than a dozen videos being uploaded to the channel. These videos feature Sampson’s friends who, being the flâneur, explore different areas of Hong Kong. You can see in a seemingly peaceful housing estate the old people moving around in stumbling walks; children having fun at the park enclosed by railings; the water fountain sparkling under the shining sun as some white pigeons fly across the sky. It is so quiet and peaceful as if we are in a parallel universe. “The walk around the area of Cheung Shan Estate and Shek Wai Kok Estate is one of the most remarkable walks I’ve ever done. Willis Ho took us around and showed us places that we’ve never set foot in. It was very exciting. We discovered that, in fact, we don’t need to go for walks in the countryside. The city can also give you that stunning feeling. Once during the filming, some people asked us what we were shooting. We told them that it was just beautiful there. They got curious. This is what I find interesting.”
“The reason for making videos is to provide the general public with some recommended walking routes. The videos are like a virtual guide; it encourages people to watch the videos and eventually take a walk for real. But, it wasn’t our plan to connect the strollers with the social turmoil.” Sampson said that at the beginning, he wanted to create some slow TV programmes like Telefishion that can help people relax while at the same time be inspired to observe and rediscover their city. “I slowly discovered that walking can also be a form of meditation. It allows the body to process our emotions. Maybe we can talk more about well-being in the future; from observing the city to observing our own heart.” Whether it is a walk in To Kwa Wan, Shek Kip Mei, Fo Tan, Central, or even Donki, a run/stroll in Tuen Mun, or a dance walk in West Kowloon; each and every type of walk brings new possibilities and discoveries.
Without the tourists, the city seems to be more at ease during the pandemic. What you see on your walk may only happen there and then. “The flâneur in the videos are all our friends. It is a pleasure to chat with them as we stroll. We only set the starting and ending point. Anything in between was random and impromptu. We decided what to shoot as we strolled and stopped when it got dark.” Sampson said that people can always discover things they’ve never seen before during walks. “I hope that in the future we can organize some activities where everyone can walk together, listen to the same music, while observing and discovering the beauty of this city.” Perhaps strangers like you and I can be connected via this city?