This is the commentary for the gallery for 28 September 2014 on Umbrella Diaries.
I was in Taiwan when protestors in Hong Kong entered Civic Square on 26 September. The news didn’t make a blip on Taiwanese TV.
Lynn had been Facebook messaging me all week. Talk of a sit-in had been circulating for a long time. Rumour was that the escalation was going to be on 1 October since it was going to be a public holiday.
Everything changed the moment student activist Joshua Wong ran into Civic Square.
At 2am, Lynn texted: “They took Joshua.”
“You both okay?”
“Sleep deprived but okay.”
I replied: “Ok. Will sleep on your behalf.”
10 hours later, Lynn texted again: “Oct 1 might not happen. This is the Occupy event right now. Who knows what will be left Oct 1. This one is big.”
“That’s why I am saying come! Ok gotta run. We are waiting to be water cannoned.”
I landed at Chek Lap Kok Airport past 3pm on the 28th, half expecting Hong Kong to feel different given what I was reading on my phone. But the Airport Express was filled with silence as usual.
A supplies station had popped up outside my hotel in Wanchai. Volunteers handed me a used pair of goggles. Then they saw my camera and recording gear and gave me a new pair, still wrapped in plastic. And a bottle of water, for the tear gas.
The scale of the protest only really struck me when I got on Harcourt Road. People gave way as soon as they saw that I was holding on to a camera. The road was jam-packed with people. I had to make sure I didn’t step on anyone.
Then I saw boots. Green coveralls. Black masks. Shields. Batons.
I took a deep breath, and got to work.