Hi there! In my last posts I wrote about my 5 absolute favorite things to do in Hong Kong, but naturally there are many more fun things to do in this large and vibrant city. One of those things is visiting some of the beautiful Chinese temples that Hong Kong holds. The Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is one worth to mention. Besides that this temple complex is exceptionally large (including a 'Good Wish garden') and beautiful architecturally, what is more notable, is the temple's claim that it "makes every wish come true upon request". At the temple you can have your fortune explained, but first you'll have to light some incense sticks, kneel before the main altar, make your wish, and shake the incense sticks holder until one falls out - this particular stick presumably holds some information about your fortune, that you can have interpreted by one of the soothsayers that are present at the temple complex.
Chinese temple architecture keeps astonishing me, how different it is from architecture we're familiar with here. Bright colors - a lot of blue, green, red and yellow - stone dragons, and all kinds of geometric shapes are represented in temple decorations - making buildings look closest to something I only know from fairytale-related amusement parks. I like it how a lot of locals regularly come down to one of the temples to pray, make a wish or ask for a favor, and how they undisturbed light their incense sticks and shake them eagerly in front of some mighty statue, ignoring all the tourists staring at them with great interest. I also like it how these temples are located in the middle of the busy city center, that may appear quite modern and even Western sometimes, the presence of these kind of temples remind us that this is still China, and that many old traditions have not faded yet. And that's beautiful.
Hong Kong has some city parks, randomly placed in the middle of some tall sky scrapers, pretty much in the same way as Central Park lays in the middle of New York City. But Hong Kong Park and Kowloon Park are not at all like Central Park. For one, flora here consists mainly out of bamboo and palm trees, and secondly, they hold animals in these parks as if they were zoos (except they charge you nothing, compared to the 30 euros zoos charge you here - now I come to think of it, much of the things you can do in Hong Kong are free of charge, which is a great thing for a study trip like ours), and we saw all kinds of tropical birds, turtles and flamingos. These parks are pretty fun to walk around, especially when coming from the craziness from busy parts of the city, like Nathan Road.
The Big Buddha is a famous, bit of an overestimated, large statue, that must be very impressive, but we couldn't tell because of the fog. Sometimes the sky cleared a bit and we could catch a glimpse of Mr. Buddha now and then, but overall it was a huge bummer. This was not the first time the fog spoiled our visit: when we went up to The Peak - which is a viewpoint up a building - we ended up having no view at all! But even so I don't think I would recommend The Peak to you......the line for The Peak tram was terribly long (buying tickets in advance meant you still had to stand in the same line as others) and we had to wait for hours, then they crammed tons of people in that tram (we could just as well been deported to some sketchy detention camp instead of some high rated tourist attraction) that went up extremely steep (not fun when there are that many people) and when we finally got there, the building appeared to consist out of many shops that wanted to profit from tourists.....and they charged you extra to go up to the actual Peak. So don't go, I found it horrible.
On the other hand, the fog at the Big Buddha didn't spoil it all. I think I mentioned this before, but the bus ride from fishing village Tai O to the Big Buddha was actually pretty cool, as it took us all the way up the mountain. The Po Lin Monastery near the Big Buddha was also worth a visitation, as one of the rooms (as seen in one of the pictures above) is almost entirely in gold, and very beautiful to look at. Then afterwards we took the cable car down, which was pretty awesome (when we finally escaped from the cloud we were in) and the view was truly beautiful, as the cable car took us both over mountains and over sea.
At the Po Lin Monastery I apparently took a lot of pictures of people praying and worshipping by lighting incense sticks. I put them here beneath.
Aberdeen Fishing Village is a harbor in the middle of some tall building, where some old fishing boats are floating. Here we took a ride on a traditional Sampan boat, and we went up and down the harbor on it. Maybe it's because I like being on a boat, but I found this ride very relaxing. We could just sit back and look at all the little and colorful boats or the modern yachts that lay in the harbor, letting the wind rush past us. Even though Aberdeen is not as much as a fishing village anymore as it used to be, there are still some old fishing families living on boats in the harbor for at least some months of the year. You can still sense some of what it used to be like here before.
We liked Stanley mainly because of the beach (there was wi-fi on the beach, so some of us girls went on to FaceTime our boyfriends and making them jealous by showing them the beautiful surroundings), but we also went to Stanley Market where we got some souvenirs for ourselves, then did some photoshooting at the orange-ish rocks at the bay opposite from the beach. Stanley nowadays is pretty modern, and quite popular for tourists. It is a nice get-away from the city center whenever you feel like escaping for a little bit, it is quite different from the city center as well, but besides that, it's not that interesting.
We were at the Tsim Tsa Tsui Promenade by night, so we had this lovely night view of Hong Kong's skyline, but I bet it must be just as pretty in daylight. It's pretty nice to see, but not a place you'd hang around for long, so we soon went on to the Ozone bar at the Ritz-Carlton hotel (make sure you wear appropriate clothing, especially dudes!), the highest bar on earth. Again, the view at night from here was cool, but I think it could be even more spectacular during the day. Anyway, the Ozone bar felt like a high class private party where we were not invited, especially since we didn't buy any drinks (too expensive) so we only stayed for a couple of minutes to shoot some pictures and then left. Nevertheless it was a nice thing that we went up there: it was pretty exciting to walk in that bar, hear the booming music, and feel like some sort of celebrity at some exclusive after party - until you feel like some intruder and too poor to buy yourself a drink.
We were Cheung Chau island during/right before the bread festival, which explains all the white bread rolls with red stamps on them that we saw everywhere. But we soon took off for another part of the island, a bit away from the busy part, where we went looking for a cave, but the road towards it was worth the walk just as much: we viewed some beautiful rocks descending in the water, and some locals presumably fishing down there. When we got to the cave we never entered it, as it seemed a bit sketchy: a rather narrow hole between some rocks where you had to climb down, unsupervised, and some local dude selling flash lights to the tourists who dared to go in the cave. It was surely pretty on Cheung Chau island, but we didn't stay long as it was our last day and we wanted to buy some souvenirs before we left.
I loved the Hong Kong Zoological and botanical gardens! While here in The Netherlands a botanical garden usually means viewing tropical flora in a warm glass house, here in Hong Kong it was the other way around: outside were all the tropical plants and trees, while in one small glass house, that was of lower temperature, were some plants that didn't like the heat. I love botanical gardens in general, but I liked to see one in a completely different county and see the difference. Definitely recommended!
Thanks for reading! :-)
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