Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Serene Side of Hong Kong

Local man lights incense sticks in a Taoist temple

Before going, my image of Hong Kong was one of a huge, crowded fast paced city that never sleeps...

I wasn't exactly wrong about that part, but we also found out that there is a more serene side to Hong Kong. The city itself is home to many small oases of peace, like parks and temples. And aside from that the administrative region of Hong Kong is much more than just the city. It's filled with hills, forest, wetlands and hundreds of islands -both inhabited and uninhabited.

Temples
Religion in Hong Kong has thrived uninterrupted by the Cultural Revolution and other tragic events that oppressed religious communities in Mainland China. Most temples are Daoist, and many of them are very atmospheric places, where locals drop by throughout the day to light incense sticks and perhaps even burn so called ghost money as a way to worship their ancestors.

Temple at Cheung Chau Village

Parks
Hong Kong thankfully has many well maintained parks, which we used as a place to relax and to recharge our batteries. This was especially important since the Nitoli was 6-month pregnant at this time. One of our favourites was the not very inventively name "Hong Kong Park", which is home to the fantastic Edward Youde Aviary full of 600 exotic birds that you see from wooden walkways at tree top level. And it's 100% free to enter.

Park in Hong Kong
Islands & Seas
During our days in Hong Kong we took to the water several times. A couple of times we took the iconic Star Ferry connecting Kowloon to Hong Kong island, giving a great view of the skyline both ways. But we also made a point of taking a longer ferry ride to one of Hong Kong's many smaller inhabited islands, Cheung Chau.

Cheung Chau Village on the Island of same name. The Village is located on the narrowest part of the island, so you can walk from one side to another in a few minutes.

Finally we also went on an organized boat trip to look for the elusive and endangered pink dolphins living in the Pearl river delta. It was slightly disappointing that we only saw one dolphin after several hours of scouting, but even so it was a nice trip out on the open waters and I do recommend it for other visitors.

Our sole pink dolphin in the water to the right of the fishing boat

More pictures of some of Hong Kong's serene side:

Our dolphin close enough to see that it really is pink

Forest Temple on the southern part of Cheung Chau

Beach on Cheung Chau

Rock carving, probably done by local fishermen some 3000 years old

Fishing vessels in the harbour of Cheung Chau

Star Ferry - taking locals and tourists across Victoria Harbour since 1888

The Aviary in Hong Kong Park, seen from the outside. Lots of room under the big net for the birds to fly around and live almost as in the wild

Two pidgeons enjoying each other's company in the Aviary

Susanna in the Aviary

City worker watering the trees and plants from the central walkway

One of the many beautiful birds

Nicely landscaped park

Turtles sunning themselves on top of each other in the park pond

Flamingoes in a different park, this one "Kowloon Park"

Flamingo close-up

Burning ghost money outside a temple

Incense burning inside a temple

Deities on display

Revelers light incense outside one of Hong Kong's large temples, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin

Chi Lin Buddhist Nunnery in the northern part of Kowloon. Allegedly built of wood without using a single nail

A golden temple with very orange bridge near Chi Lin

And finally a little "house temple" this one from a small restaurant near our hotel

4 comments:

oreneta said...

I am so impressed you got the photo of the dolphin, having tried before that is no easy feat!

As always, lovely photos.

Heather Woollove said...

I happened upon your blog while looking for photos of Luebeck's famed marzipan shop and I had to write and tell you how much I like it!!!
My daughter spent 3 months in Dalian, China several years ago and really loved it.
Best wishes---

मीत said...

wow friend today i saw your blog first time...
and u know i m very happy after looking it...
and m also very happy to know that u want to learn hindi..

Esben said...

@oreneta,

This is the time when my nice DSLR camera comes to good use. It focuses so much faster than your average pocket camera and makes it a bit easier catching something elusive like a pink dolphin :)

@Heather,

Thanks for your visit! Lübeck is a really nice town, and you should visit if given a chance. The world is our oyster, and I feel very blessed to have been born in an age where it is practically possible to explore the world.

@मीत
Thanks for your visit - yes, still trying to learn Hindi, helped by my Indian colleagues who get a lot of fun out of my wrestling with all sorts of Hindi terms.