The Star Ferry plying Victoria Harbour, a resilient symbol of Hong Kong since 1888
  • Palani Mohan celebrates ‘these eight minutes of quiet’ sailing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in an essay of digitally manipulated photographs
Palani Mohan

Founded in 1888, Hong Kong’s Star Ferry is among the city’s oldest forms of public transport, attracting commuters and tourists alike.

Since tunnels and the MTR made the crossing of Victoria Harbour faster and more convenient, these historic boats have seen a decline in usage, and with passenger numbers plummeting during the Covid-19 pandemic, questions have been raised about whether the service’s days are numbered.

But much like the city itself, the Star Ferry has proven its resilience. The Japanese invasion in 1941 interrupted the service for a record 44 months.

But while strikes, bomb scares, political turmoil and typhoons have all disrupted passage, these eight minutes of quiet, the boats putting along between two of the most densely populated areas on Earth, remain as much a motif of Hong Kong as any of its other, less soporific symbols.

Here, Post Magazine presents a series of digitally altered photographs taken by Palani Mohan over the past few years.

Eight minutes of calm, crossing from one side of the harbour to the other, April 2018. Photo: Palani Mohan
A misty morning view through the window of a ferry in August 2022. Photo: Palani Mohan
Cutting through the morning fog, as seen from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, in April 2018. Photo: Palani Mohan
Reflections in a ferry’s mirror, August 2022. Photo: Palani Mohan
Pulling into a sparsely occupied Star Ferry terminal, August 2022. Photo: Palani Mohan
A Star Ferry crew member catches up on the news between stops. Photo: Palani Mohan
Black rain sweeps into Victoria Harbour, May 2017. Photo: Palani Mohan