Poly lecturer has photo exhibition of Silk Road travels
Polytechnic lecturer impressed by hospitality of locals while travelling along historical route
Interrogated by the police. Held at knifepoint.
Nah, this is not the making of a gangster film but just some of Mr Lau Kim Hang's adventures during his travels.
In 2005, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer embarked on a photographic journey along the Silk Road that spanned 25 countries.
FRIENDLY FACES: Ethnic Mongolian Buryat girls PHOTOS: LAU KIM HANG
Mr Lau, 42, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I have a general interest in the people of Central Asia, and I hope to give a visual account that connects the land, culture and people of Eurasia (who were) linked by the Mongol empire through this ongoing project."
Of the four historical khanates (political entities ruled by khans or hereditary rulers) that he has explored, he was most moved by the hospitality shown to him at Ilkhanate (the khanate that comprises most of Iran and Iraq today).
FRIENDLY FACES: A Mongolian horse breeder at work PHOTOS: LAU KIM HANG
He says: "The people welcome you warmly, and I was even invited to underground parties (in Iran) where alcohol is served (alcohol is prohibited in Iran)."
And if not for the kindness of the locals, he would have been killed in Cairo, Egypt, in 2013.
Some street vendors at a bazaar thought he was a spy.
PEAKS OF GOLD: Mr Lau Kim Hang (above) with some of his photographs, including one of the Hexi Corridor in China, which is known for this section of multi-hued rock formations. TNP PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG
Mr Lau recounts: "Due to the uprising in Cairo, people were extremely sensitive about having their photographs taken. I was held at knifepoint as the vendors threatened to take my camera away."
But some locals quickly stepped in to help diffuse the situation and ushered him away from the spot.
"If not for them, I would not have survived," says Mr Lau.
With a laugh, he recalls how his camera often gave him undue attention in Cairo. He even had to prove to the policemen that he was not a journalist.
He says: "I showed them my Facebook posts of photographs I'd taken of the locals.
"That was the time my phone came to my rescue."
FRIENDLY FACES: A Syrian carpet seller in Aleppo. PHOTOS: LAU KIM HANG
While the project is still ongoing, Mr Lau says he managed to compile the bulk of it in 2013. With Olympus Corporation's sponsorship and the polytechnic's support, he was able to take one year's leave to work on it.
This project has also made him appreciate how safe it is in Singapore.
With the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt, he says: "We can't take this peace and stability for granted."
For more of Mr Lau Kim Hang's works, here are details of the exhibition:
WHAT: Lands From The Mongol Empire
WHEN: Now until May 31, 11am to 9pm