Capturing HK's Sleepy Commuters on Instagram's @mtrsleepers
Hong Kong/ Nomads/ Explore

Interview with @mtrsleepers, the People Capturing Hong Kong's Sleepy Commuters on Instagram

225382782 536712090813913 8873312761735084467 n Photo by Photo by Website/Instagram @mtrsleepers

The sky is always blue in Hong Kong (most days). There are a lot of tall buildings in the city. Commuting on the MTR is a sleepy and drowsy affair. These statements all run true, agreeable with every Hong Konger who has lived, worked, and taken transport in the city.

Riding, taking, and sitting on the MTR, the city’s lifeline for transporting millions of Hong Kongers a day can be a quite taxing chore for some – or a moment of bliss in our hectic city.

One of Hong Kong’s most-followed and famous Instagram accounts, @mtrsleepers, took to the underground to capture the sleepers, dozer-offers, resting dreamers, and snorers on the MTR.

The Beat Asia managed to squeeze in a few questions to the anonymous couple in Hong Kong running the feed about the why’s, what's, who's, when’s, and how’s in capturing the MTR’s sleepers.

The account began in September 2016 – humble beginnings – as part of a way to document the snoozers found along the couple's lengthy MTR journeys to see each other whilst they were dating.

“When my wife and I were dating, we used to travel a lot on the MTR. She lived in Fan Ling and I lived in Kennedy Town so we got the MTR a lot [to see each other],” the husband of @mtrsleepers told The Beat Asia.

The cruel journey from west Hong Kong Island to the Chinese border town would take on average just over an hour and involve three interchanges and riding the Island, Tseun Wan, Kwun Tong, and East Rail Line.

“We always used to see people sleeping in funny positions [along the journey], especially on the East Rail Line. We thought it would be fun to start an Instagram page to document [the sleepers] - just for fun.”

Their post on Sep. 1, 2016, is captioned “Fangaau” (Cantonese for sleeping) and shows two women dozing off on the East Rail Line clutching their black backpacks en route to Tai Po. “We started it over 5 years ago,” the couple said, “and are now amazed with the progress of the page.”

In the beginning, the couple took all of the photos personally and uploaded them onto their account – lounging yawners, flycatchers and open-mouth sleepers, tired expats and tourists, standing- up snoozers, and kids and wives cradled in the arms of their parents or husbands.

"Now we have so many submissions from followers. We literally have thousands we haven't posted yet. We've never asked people to send us submissions - they just started sending them to us,” the anonymous husband explained.

When the page started to get featured heavily in local media in Hong Kong at the beginning of 2019, submissions began to roll in from fans of the page, and they haven’t stopped.

With now over 95,000 followers on Instagram, @mtrsleepers has grown to become a monolith in the city’s Instagram meme and funny space.

The rationale behind sharing people sleeping on the MTR – any station, stop, or line – is simple: “the photos of people sleeping are funny.”

“Our favourite sleepers are the ‘bin sleeper’ posts, shared recently on our account, and the open mouth sleepers. Also, the guy with the cat.”

If netizens or fellow sleepers shared on the page are unhappy about the free press coming from being shared sleeping on the MTR, @mtrsleepers are happy to delete pictures of people to ensure personal privacy. “We usually take the photo down if they person who is in the photo requests for it to be taken down.”

“This is just for a bit of fun. We want to bring smiles to Hong Kongers and document the life of Hong Kongers. We don't mean to cause anyone any stress if their photo appears on the page. We will remove it if we see their message.”

When asked about any future projects, @mtrsleepers revealed that “we’ve got something exciting coming up soon,” but were unable to share any details as the project is only in its early stages. They told The Beat Asia to “watch this space.”

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