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Saturday, 20 September 2008


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1) That is an amazing story.
2) I need to get me some Dymo.

I'm speechless. I would buy a lottery ticket first thing in the morning.

Wow! That's incredible! I can't imagine how that must feel... Enjoy!

A wonderful, moving story. Thanks for sharing it.

Woo Lai Wah rocks!


VERY cool. Boy, there are some great lines in there, with all kinds of meanings:

"Perhaps it was lost on a journey, or [stolen] by a [competitor]."

"[Perhaps] you need this returned for making continued successes." [The gods are telling Mike: Give up on digital. Go back to film.]

"We especially had fondness for your black-and-white infrared series of trees and bushes, [and I don't mean] the president and his family."

"Returning piece [and peace?] to rightful owner is only thanks required."


Pretty neat. Makes the world suddenly feel both a little smaller and a lot friendlier.

How wonderful. If only the global media would allow that the world is a beautiful place full of lovely people.

Can't remove smile from my face!

That letter was the most riveting "blog" entry I've read in a long time. Gives me great optimism for a better world.

Thanks for sharing.


It's all to do with the old Chinese saying: "What goes around comes around", as it's a film loader and you had to turn that little crank handle round so many times ...

Incredible! Across the nation it would be an amazing story, but around our planet? And that letter would bring a tear to even the most hard boiled photographer. It also made me go spool a couple of rolls of Tri-X from my bulk loader.

What a beautiful, inspiring, uplifting thing to do! Cynics of the world rejoice! (and I'm usually one of them,...)
I cannot imagine the same kindness being shown if the finder had lived in the USA or UK.
Through the power of the WWW I do hope that Woo Lai Wah can somehow read this article and know just what a special thing she did.

In November 2006 I had a stroke, and was in a coma for a month, and then a rehabilitation hospital for another month.

My wife, who is from China, took wonderful care of me. My aunt and my cousins remarked about it. They all said to me "You are so lucky."

When my heat pump broke, my wife found someone from China to put in a new one. I have never seen such a meticulous work ethic.

That's not really unusual for China, or Taiwan.

O wonderful,
and most wonderful wonderful!
and yet again wonderful...

William Shakespeare

"Unfortunately, ascending spirituality is expensive.."

LOL, how true in many ways.

Perfect timing for this story, right in the middle of a very troubling presidential campaign...

I don't know about you guys but I'm worn out from worry over the state of spirituality in this country and that letter was uplifting in the sweetest most excellent way.

Mr. Mitchell Tri-X...priceless.

Amazing story, thanks for sharing. Surreal.

this made my morning and it does my heart no end of good reading it ,politics make countrys aggressive to each other,but its the people who make the world friendly

well done that lovely lady


Wow. Just, wow. That it managed to wander that far afield *and then back* is totally remarkable. Makes a wonderful story.

(The object is, to be slightly more precise, the Loyd's bulk loader, rather than the other common alternative the Watson. The Watson has an actual film-driven frame counter, plus it doesn't run the film through a potentially scratch-inducing felt light trap, and hence was more expensive. I used to buy 100 feet of Tri-x for about $9.)

Wonderful story and what an amazing person Woo Lai Wah is. I hope for many blessings to come her way. I have read this three times today already and expect to many more.

Michael you have a purpose in this now, it is yours to learn. Enjoy the challenge.

Thanks Mike,
My favourite sentiment;
"with our best and continued wishes for making things worthy of many peoples".

Boy, she complains her English isn't the best but that line is worthy of any English writer.

Thanks again,

Great story! It reminds me of the Tom Robbins books where mundane objects have lives of their own. The Tri-X film loader has been traveling the world, but has found its way back. Perhaps it was homesick!


Mr. Mitchell Tri-X:

What a beautiful story, and how touching Ms Woo Lai Wah's gesture is. Thank you for sharing it.

Also, I just wanted to point out, while I'm not sure what successes and failures you as an artist have had, your work has meant something to someone, has touched them. That makes you a success. How wonderful.

Would this spoil the whole meaning of the goodwill?:-

I googled WOO LAI WAH both in Chinese and English among the HK webpages and the results showed that there are WOO LAI WAHs who either or

-a teacher in arts (suspicious)
-a Hong Kong University mentor
-a school headmistress
-a graduate from MY high school!!
-and the most suspicious of all, a donor named in a Buddism magazine (bingo?)

My salute to WOO. The letter is so moving that it should be put to auction and the proceeds be sent back to WOO.

(And thank you Mike for the posting. I've told it to the world...around me here in Hong Kong.)

Very touching. Nothing really to add that's not already been said.

Very good story,

I must say I am quite curious about the tree and bush photos from the 1970's

Very touching story. Warms the heart.

Somewhere in the Cosmos, a new star just sparked into existence...and I recovered a little bit of hope that maybe Humanity still has a chance to make it...

It seems to me that Woo Lai Wah's gift to Mr. Mitchell makes Woo Lai Wah a person who is a gift to us all. As noted earlier, this kind of thoughtfulness (and acting upon it) is precious.

So how did it get to Hong Kong?

Tell us the rest of the story, already. :)

One more thing: my wife is a follower of the Dalai Lama, and it has affected me. I now call myself a Jew-Bhu.

This story reminds me of one of my favorite and most uplifting anonymous quotes, found in an old church: "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

I think now, more than at any of other time in world history, the thought of Woo Lai Wah's graciousness and sweetness uplifts and heals us all. Thank you so very much for in a way, lighting one little candle--now let's everyone pay it forward!

Now... go Marry her and then hire a writer for the movie.


I have the same bulk loader plus two tins of expired (1994) Plus-X and Delta 400 which belonged to my wife's late uncle in my garage. I've been debating for two years whether to load several cartridges and see what happens. I did find a correct lamp for the uncle's Simmon Omega D2 at an older shop just in case. The last time I stepped into a darkroom was twenty-one years ago. There are so many valid reasons for not getting back into it all but the scent of the chemicals sure brings back good memories.

By the way, the adhesive used for the Dymo tape over time discolors the surface to which the label is applied, all but where the letters were punched. Eventually the aged label will fall off but the ghost image will still legible. No worries then about identifying your loader for the remainder of its days.

Everything happens for a reason.

Hey, it's a joke. That one line, I mean. The letter isn't trying to say that they think you took pictures of the President's family...it's a pun on trees and "Bushes".
It's a bit oblique.

Wu Lai Wah is definitely Cantonese. "Wu" is her LAST name, see surname #15 (Wu4) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_Chinese_surnames She signs her name in Chinese characters first, then in English; the first character is clearly Wu4. So in English ordering, her name would be "Lai-Wah Wu". In Hong Kong databases, you'll find it under "Wu Lai Wah" or "Wu Lai-Wah". I can't make out the full name from the scribble, but no doubt *any* Chinese person can. Search by the Chinese characters, not by the romanization (Lai Wah), as there are a zillion Chinese characters which are pronounced Lai and Wah.

It's likely this person is from Hong Kong given the letter in English, with help from her relatives.

And now to some hints about her. "Gwuy Lo" (as she spells it, it's usually spelled gwailo, or in Yale romanization, gwailouh) is a mildly offensive term for white people, along the level of offense of "cracker", but not at the level of, say, the N word. It means "ghost man" or "devil man". (Gwai is the same word as in Mogwai, from Gremlins, which means literally a "devilish spirit"). Generally cantonese are embarrassed to use the term around whites and even more embarrassed when whites appropriate the term to themselves. It's odd that she may be using the term: perhaps ironically. Though clearly she's got a considerable degree of intellectual sophistication, she's using a low-down term in conversation with its target; perhaps she's originally from the countryside? Don't know if that helps in the search any.

Also, she's referring to Buddha and making a lot of spiritual references, including ancestor worship. In Hong Kong there are three major religions: Buddhism, Taoism/Confucianism/Ancestor-Worship (the dominant religion), and Christianity. Now, ancestor worship is directly opposed to Buddhism, but the Cantonese, ever pragmatic, just merge them all together in one big blob of a religion; however nowadays they also tend to not be overly religious beyond the house traditions (ancestor shrine, kitchen god, etc.) -- quite unlike her. I think it means she's probably fairly traditional, and thus likely well over 50.

That she doesn't speak English well means, with an almost certainty, that she's not a doctor, professor, etc., so that rules out a number of people listed earlier.

At any rate, a pretty amazing person: few Hong Kong chinese are that into karma: they're very much like New Yorkers. You need to find her and thank her in person. Pictorially speaking, you'll love Hong Kong as well.

What is so remarkable to me is that there must be like what...ten million billion Mitchells who are photographers. She found YOU? The very actual Mitchell who this belonged to?? gadzooks.

The film loader has found its way back to you! There has to be a reason for that, put some film in it and see what happens...........

Reminiscent of the film _Amelie_. Thanks for the wonderful story.

That is amazing, and wonderful. But it also made me sad, because had "Mitchell Tri-X" been a woman, her name would very likely have changed over the decades since high school, rendering almost nil the chances of being tracked down by a stranger on the other side of the world.

We disappear during our own lifetimes.

I don't mean to pee all over the genuine wonder of this. It just struck me, that's all.

I know what you mean Michelle--I have a hard time googling old high school friends who had common names, but I also have trouble googling female friends from high school. In a way it reminds me of what must have been among the ancient and primitive origins of the practice--as if another man has taken possession of her and doesn't want male friends from her youth contacting her. I doubt my friends' husbands would think of it this way! No doubt they're enlightened and educated individuals. But it does bring the thought to mind.

Mike J.

Get in touch with a newspaper in Hong Kong and ask them if they're interested in running a story to help you find her. It's a great human interest piece - i'm sure someone in the media over there would pick it up and run with it for you.

And, not that i'm saying you owe her anything in the slightest, but maybe you have a luminiscient and tremedously spiritual print that you'd like to have find it's way to her?

Imagine the thrill you'd be able to provide in return to her!

Maybe I'm going to sound a little cynical, but the letter reads fake to me. I teach English in Korea and I'm used to reading imperfect English. This doesn't read like a language learner making mistakes--it reads like a native speaker trying to write like a language learner. But maybe I'm wrong about that.

Cool story, though!

A fantastic moving story.

I bet the mass of the internet can find this woman...!

It would be great for you two to connect again!


I think the story should end here. It wouldn't be wise to find her.

She requested no thanks... it's against her religious principles to expect or receive anything in return. The deed itself is the reward.

The result of her deed continues to reverberate around the world, and to distract attention from that by starting a new story, the story of who she is, probably won't help anyone.

The story is better for the mystery of it. I suggest we leave it that way. Following Annie Rowe's suggestion in an earlier post, it's a better idea to 'pay it forward' than pay it back.

Rather than wonder about who Ms. Woo is, it might be far better to wonder about who we ourselves might become if we, as Rodger Kingston so nicely put it: 'might strive toward such a state of grace' in our own lives.

What a great story. I loved this!
But I personally would feel the need to thank her. She probably wonders if you had received the package!

I love this story and will be blogging this one. It tells so much about our society and how it has changed.

Did she leave a returning address?

I am from Hong Kong, maybe I can do something, I hope we can at least tell her in person how many people in this world are touched by her act.

Wonderful wonderful woman~

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