An April 2007 trip
to Hong Kong by writeonthespot
Quote: Holy Week is a time of reflection for Christians but I spent it in Buddhist Hong Kong. Still, it was serene trip.
Rosary Church is in the heart of Kowloon. This classic Gothic style church is considered as the oldest Catholic Church in Kowloon. Its original floor plan was drawn from a Roman Basilica model. History showed that the Rosary Church was built when a Portuguese Catholic, Dr. Anthony Gomes, made a donation in 1903 for a church building in loving memory of his parents and brother. The Pro-Vicar Apostolic at that time, Fr. De Maria, laid the foundation stone on December 10, 1904. A year after the church was completed and it was consecrated to Our Lady of Pompeii who is the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. Many British troops attended service there but the Catholics drew in number even during when the British troops left Hong Kong.
Now, the Catholic population is composed of Hong Kong citizens, Filipinos, Indians, and a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of them are families who come to attend mass on Sundays which is also considered a family day. For many foreigners working in Hong Kong, they find a sense of community in the Rosary Church. With more and more skyscrapers rising in Kowloon, Rosary Church stands beautifully in the midst of the growing metropolis. Just across the church is the Hong Kong Museum of History and many Catholic tourists who attend service in the church can have a stopover at the tourist landmark at the other side of the street.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 3, 2007
125 Chatham Road South
Attraction | "Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple"
I’ve never been to all the temples in Hong Kong bur so far, among the ones I’ve visited, this is probably the grandest temple I have visited. From the entrance, there is a walkway that slopes upward. There’s a water fountain in one of the gardens. A few steps going up lead to the colorful main temple with an open square where devotees pray and worship. The temple sits in an 18,00 square-meter lot that is located in a serene setting within the metropolis. What makes Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple a popular place is that it allows three major religions in China, which are Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, to be practiced in this temple. Believers say that if you pray earnestly to the gods, your request would be granted. The temple got its name from a monk named Wong Tai Sin who believed to have become a deity at Heng Shan or Red Pine Hill in his afterlife.
Then in 1915, Ling Ren-an, who was a Taoist priest, brought in from Guangdong to Hong Kong Wong Tai Sin’s sacred picture. Wong Tai Sin’s photo can now be seen displayed at the main altar of the temple where faithfuls come and pray. Apart from the altar, there is also the Three Saints Hall that displays the gods Lu Zu, Guan Yin and Guan Di. Across the temple is the Wong Tai Sin Fortune-Telling and Oblation Arcade where fortune-tellers, some of them offer English services, line up to wait for customers who want to know their future. It’s easy to go to Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. Just rake the MTR and get off at the Wong Tai Sin Station and exit at B2 or B3 and you will find at the gate of the temple.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
Southern side of Lion Rock in the north of Kowloon
+852 2320 2883
Attraction | "Tin Hau Temple"
There are a number of Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong but the most visited, I would say, is the one along Nathan Road because of its accessibility and because it is known as one of the oldest temples in Kowloon. Anyone who wants to visit Tin Hau Temple can take the MTR, get off at the Yau Ma Tei station through exit C, and just a mere couple of blocks down Nathan Road is the temple. Named after the goddess of the sea, Tin Hau Temple is where believers come to pray. They usually pay HK$130 for one spiral incense which burns for 10 days as an offering for their loved ones who have passed away.
In front of the temple is a small square where people hang out and some theater groups rehearse for their shows. There are also fortune-tellers found in the vicinity of the temple. But at the sign of dusk, tables come out and stalls are erected in preparation for the night market. Tin Hau Temple which is also found along the Public Square Street is a walking distance from Temple Street and Jade Street which are popular destinations at night for shopaholics looking for a good bargain. We were lucky to have our hotel just across Tin Hau Temple. We were able to visit the temple, watch a theater rehearsal, and got to buy ladies’ bracelets at a cheap price.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 3, 2007
Tin Hau Kung
+852 2508 1234
Amidst the fog, we traversed the trail through the woods to get to the Wisdom Path. The Wisdom Path sat beautifully on a grassy hill where 38 wooden pillars were erected and arranged to form an infinity figure ∞. Each pillar, save for one, has an inscription of Chinese characters. The calligraphy spoke about the Heart Sutra or the Prajna-paramita Heart Sutra wherein Prajna-paramita was derived from Sanskrit which means "perfection of wisdom". It is called "Heart" because it includes the very essence of the perfection of wisdom of Buddha. Overall, the Sutra teaches the doctrine of "emptiness", which explains the relativity of all views and thereby realizing that everything is constantly changing. With this doctrine, one will be free from material attachments, yet treasures all things and events because they are just temporary, and enable one to have perfect freedom and harmony. The teachings of the Heart Sutra are revered by Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, three major religions in China.
The Wisdom Path with the teachings of the Heart Sutra was an idea of Professor Jao Tsung-I who was inspired by the Buddhist stone inscriptions he saw in Shandong. He wrote the Heart Sutra calligraphy and presented the writings to Hong Kong in June 2002. These were then placed on large slabs of wood reminiscent of bamboo tiles, as how writings were done in ancient times, and were designed for outdoor environment. The Wisdom Path was completed in 2005. The height and position of each wood corresponds to the topography of the landscape. At the highest part of the hill, one wood has no inscription to stress the concept of emptiness, the key theme in the Heart Sutra. To get to the Wisdom Path, you go through the Po Lin Monastery by bus or cable car then follow the sign to the Tea Garden. You will find the sign leading you to the Wisdom Path. It’s a 10-15 minute hike from the Po Lin Monastery. With the cold weather and our slow-paced walk, getting to the Wisdom Path was no feat. The majestic view of the towering woods and the serene landscape were both humbling and breathtaking. We sat on one of the rocks in the center of the columns and just gazed at the wonderful beauty before our eyes.
Attraction | "Tian Tan Buddha (aka Giant Buddha)"
Visiting the Giant Buddha was the most exciting thing that I and my sister looked forward to. For my part, I have failed to visit this landmark during my first trip to Hong Kong and for my sister’s part, she just has that deep interest in Buddhism and Chinese all because of her love of Jet Li and his Once Upon a Time in China movie series. Getting there was not easy. We ran out of Hong Kong dollars and were short of budget so we had to wait for the money changer in Tung Chung to open up. We took the bus (Bus 23), which was the long way to get to the Giant Buddha, yet the more interesting one, I guess, because of the beautiful views we passed by. When we got there, all we could see was fog which made us feel that we were walking in the clouds.
Po Lin Monastery was enveloped with white that made the setting look dreary yet serene. We found our way to the 268 steps that lead to the Giant Buddha. At the bottom we found the giant incense urn, but there was no trace of the landmark we were looking for. I think we covered two-thirds of the steps before we got a glimpse of the majestic figure of the seated Buddha or Tian Tan, the biggest Buddha statue in Asia which sits at 26 meters high, 371 meters above sea level, and weighs 220 tons. It took 10 years to complete the Giant Buddha which was unveiled in 1993. At the top was like really being in heaven especially with the cold temperature and the zero visibility caused by the heavy fog. There were six figures of ladies, three on each side of the Buddha, which offers different kinds of things to him.
Inside the Giant Buddha were stores and prayer walls as well as a vegetarian restaurant. But being on a budget, we had our lunch in one of the eateries in the souvenir shops near the bus station and had a cup of noodles for HK$10, a dumpling at HK$10 and a can of Coke at HK$8. Not that cheap either but better than the expensive meals or than having none at all.
Big Buddha-Tian Tan Buddha
Near Po Lin Monastery
Ngong Ping, Lantau Island