City searching

Even though I am not a religious person, for some reason I have found myself really enjoying visits to Buddhist temples, and in Japan to the Shinto shrines. It’s not that I am seeking enlightenment… I just love the architecture and think the simplicity of the style and design is quite beautiful. While there are temples aplenty in ultra-modern Tokyo, I have been having a hard time finding any kind of traditional architecture in Hong Kong, where they prefer to tear down historical relics and build their favourite thing — high rises.

But yesterday I was determined to get out of the world of reflective glass, and seek out a place that came highly recommended by a friend, even though it isn’t even in my Hong Kong guide book — the Chi Lin Nunnery. I hopped on my dear ferry to Hong Kong island, then jumped on the train to cross the harbour, and an hour later was in Diamond Hill.  It was very easy to find the place, thanks to the excellent signage all over Hong Kong. Thank you, Britain, for colonizing Hong Kong and making it such a user-friendly place!

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My walk began through the Nan Lian Gardens, which were adjoining the Nunnery. It was quite pleasant, lovely scenery, ponds and fountains and such. From this picture I’m sure you see what I mean about Hong Kong’s love of highrises. These have sprung up around the garden and nunnery over the decades.

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Situated at the center of the Lotus Pond, this was called the ‘Pavilion of Absolute Perfection’. And no, I am not making that name up!

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From there I popped into the Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery, which housed many wooden models of temples all over China that had been built in the unique style of the Tang Dynasty, including the Chi Lin Nunnery. What’s so unique about it? The entire structure is built without using a single nail. All of the pieces of wood are cut into specific sizes, angles and grooves, so that they all interlock together.

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This is the main temple of the Nunnery. We are not allowed to take pictures, because it is a holy area, but inside this temple were gargantuan gold statues of Buddha and of other gods, surrounded by burning incense, fruit, offerings, bells and drums.

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I snuck a picture at one of the smaller prayer areas. Very bad, I know.

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A shot of the lion’s head in the lotus pond fountain.

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People in prayer.

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I want to have a door like this in my home one day.

After exploring the Nunnery, I was ready to continue on my itinerary for the day and explore another part of the city I hadn’t been to yet.

My next destination was the popular Bird Garden in Prince Edward. Songbirds are loved in Hong Kong, and on the weekends people take their birds to the garden and sit around chatting, listening to the birdsong, and buying supplies for their pets.

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To be quite honest, I am very opposed to people who keep birds as pets because birds do not belong in cages. They have wings, they were born to fly, and I think it is quite cruel to enprison them for life just so you can listen to their song. I saw a few tropical green parrots like the ones flying around in Trinidad, and some blue macaws from South America, and one African gray parrot. Their owners were cooing and kissing their pets. But I wonder if they realise that for every bird that survives the illegal smuggling, nine others die.

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How sad! The free birds actually steal food from the caged bird. If I were the caged bird I’d kill myself.

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Bags of live grasshoppers for you to feed your pet bird. But these guys were BIG. They also had bags of crickets, and assorted bugs.

The last stop of the day was the nearby Goldfish Market, which, as the name suggests, is a street full of fish. So I walked from Prince Edward to Mong Kok, past the Flower Market, and found the Goldfish area quite easily.

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They had every kind of fish you could imagine, as well as some baby turtles.

By then Mong Kok was full to the brim of people, a little kid pushed me so that he could get a better look at a turtle, and I got that familiar internal alarm — TIME TO GO HOME. After a quick drink and some sushi with a friend in Central, it was home again lickety split. All in all a very good day, refreshing to see some Chinese architecture in Hong Kong, and always a pleasure to share these pictures.

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