'Some say it's crazy': Simon succeeds in eccentric 107-island photo-quest

Simon Wan, paddle marathoner

Eccentric adventurer Simon Wan has succeeded in his quest to photograph 107 islands from the cheapest kayak he could find. It took Simon 12 days paddling for up to eight hours daily to visit a string of islands from the far tip of Lantau to northernmost Sai Kung. Along the way he took just one photo of each island.

Simon has done this kind of adventuring before. “Some say it’s crazy.” He climbed solo every peak in Hong Kong photographing each one during an earlier expedition.

“I started paddling very early every morning, about 6am,” Simon said. “Usually it was very calm. No shipping.” He carried food, water, tent and sleeping bag in the kayak. Because it was so small, he couldn’t carry enough water. Some nights it was difficult. He slept out six times.  Family and friends helped him. Many strangers, too.  Some had learned of Simon’s odyssey through the earlier SAI KUNG BUZZ story.

Simon (blue shirt) and team members

“The marine police stopped me several times, especially out near west Lantau,” Simon said. “They had never seen a kayak in those waters before. When I told them my plan, they became very helpful and advised me.” Although alone at sea, Simon said he didn’t get frightened. “The training was much scarier.  I practised in the worst conditions, ending up in the water sometimes.”

All of the 107 island photos, just one of each, was pre-sold at $800 each. “People supported my idea.”

What is Simon going to do now?  “I might go to Taiwan. Do something physically demanding.  Climb one mountain 100 times. I try to make a statement about life and conceptual art. Make it happen!

Simon, a full-time artist and photographer, runs a non-profit outfit called The Photocrafters, which brings artists, photographers and the public together. It has premises in Sheung Wan with a studio, dark room, archive and exhibition space. The Photocrafters host photography courses for the public.



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