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