‘One court, three yards, and three doors’

Our third day in Hong Kong saw us heading towards the mainland of China aboard the Tsuen Wan train rumbling under the harbour towards the grittier, more urban district of Hong Kong, known as ‘Kowloon’. It would be a day of monasteries, temples and markets away from many popular tourist traps, spent instead seeking out some of the real Hong Kong.

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Chin Lin Nunnery (Tang Dynasty style) and not a nail in sight.

With Diamond Hill as our destination and a map in hand we were dead eager to reach our goal. Our goal being the Chin Lin Nunnery, its said of the nunnery that not a single nail had been used in its construction, also that it is a perfect reproduction of Tang Dynasty style architecture. 95,000 pieces of timber amazingly were used in its construction, and it follows the rules of feng shui to the letter. Upon arrival we quickly discovered that we were not going to be disappointed by this amazing place! Continue reading “‘One court, three yards, and three doors’”

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268 steps to enlightenment…!

It takes 268 steps to reach the Tian Tan Buddha, the largest outdoor Buddha in the world, and I was about to climb every single one of them. The 85ft high Buddha sits on a hilltop overlooking the Po Lin Monastery seated atop a beautiful throne of lotus leaves. Enshrined within the image is a sacred relic of the real Buddha, (a tooth in a crystal container).

But before all that you have to embark on a 4 mile cable car ride up into the mountains of Lantau island. This ride dangles you over the South China Sea before providing you with sweeping views across the country park on Lantau island and then further still into the distance beyond and the outlying islands of the archipelago. Real lunatics can trek up from sea-level to the Ngong Ping Village and then embark on the leg burning ascent to the Buddha perched up high beyond, but that was a one loony step too far for us in the 90 degree plus heat of a sweltering South Asian noon.

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Gateway to the Po Lin Monastery in Ngong Ping village.

Having swung precariously for a good 20 minutes in the cable car we disembarked at the “specially themed cultural village” which is tacky beyond belief and somewhat spoils an otherwise exciting journey up. Always one to avoid such tacky tourist traps we headed directly for the great seated Buddha. Continue reading “268 steps to enlightenment…!”

Man Ma Temple (Sheung Wan)

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Incense burning coils hanging in the temple

The mysterious and engagingly named Man Ma Temple located on the also equally engagingly named Hollywood Road is a wonderful place to visit. Only in Hong Kong could two so diversely named places coexist. That is part of the appeal of Hong Kong, Eastern culture meets Western influence and the result is an eclectic mix of old and new, modern and ancient, oriental and caucasian.

We headed towards the Sheung Wan district that is just west of Central eager to see for ourselves the much photographed little temple that had been built way back in 1847 and dedicated to the civil god Man Cheong and the martial god Kwan Ti. Continue reading “Man Ma Temple (Sheung Wan)”

Chinese Takeaway!

As an adolescent and still living at home I would often sit at the family breakfast table and stare at the giveaway calendar from the local Chinese Takeaway hanging on the wall. The mornings were usually a typical British blend of dark and cold looking skies outside with the constant tip-tapping of rain on the window as I would sit there eating my breakfast before having to venture out into the bleakness on my bicycle and cycle my mundane paper round.

The picture on the calendar showed a small red pagoda perched high on a mountainside with a spectacular view out over the most amazing cityscape imaginable, all crazily built higgledy-piggledy skyscrapers around a large strikingly blue harbour. The longer I looked and stared at that picture the more the image of Hong Kong ingrained itself on my memory banks. I did not know it back then but the seeds for discovering and exploring this exotic destination were already being sown in my young and youthful mind.

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The simple red pagoda at the peak

Fast forward some twenty seven odd years and here I was at Mumbai airport awaiting a connecting flight that would whisk me to Hong Kong. Later that very day I would possibly be standing looking out from that small red pagoda that I once stared so longingly at on that small wall calendar in my parents breakfast room. Continue reading “Chinese Takeaway!”