Lunar New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong

Yesterday, Saturday, Jan. 28, Pam and I decided to be tourists ourselves. We went to the Sik Sik Yuen Wan Tai Sin Temple in Won Tai Sin, the Chi Lin Nunnery and Lotus Garden in Diamond Hill, finishing up at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin. Following our theme for the day, we dined at the Peak Cafe next to the escalator in NoHo (north of Hollywood Rd.). What a great day!!!!!!!

Continue reading for short descriptions and some photos.

One of the major reasons that makes being a tourist in Hong Kong delightful is public transportation. We rode the MTR to the first two stops and the KCR to Sha Tin and the escalator to dinner. I don’t believe there is any city in the world that has a better public transportation system. Every site we visited was within walking distance of our stop.

Sik Sik Yuen Wan Tai Sin Temple was crowded but not cloying. The incense smoke was heavy but not overwhelming. We watched people praying but seeing the food that was carried there to be blessed including dozens of roasted baby pigs was more interesting. The gardens were not crowded and as always, I was taken by the existence of an oasis of calm and beauty in the middle of a densely populated urban area next to a Motor Expressway.


Prayer and Incense at Main Altar

The recently renovated (1998) Buddhist nunnery was almost empty. It is beautiful in a different way from the Temple. It has many altars and the statues are all new and shiny. The Lotus Garden is perfect. Truth is, though, it’s just not as interesting as the chaotic temple.


Main Altar at Chi Lin Buddhist Nunnery

I’ve been living in Hong Kong for 14 years and I’ve never visited the Heritage Museum. I pictured some small, second-rate place with amateurish exhibits. Boy, was I wrong. It is a professional, impressive, complete museum with a Cantonese Opera Theater, a Children’s Discovery Area and a special exhibit on the Silk Road as wells as three outstanding permanent exhibits. I am sure I will return.


Entrance to the Cantonese Opera Exhbit

To get to and from the KCR from the museum, we had to pass through the New Town Plaza shopping mall. It was packed and reminded me of Christmas Eve in the U.S. when everyone is trying to buy that last minute present, they know they should have purchased weeks ago. Dealing with the crowds was a bit of a pain but a happy pain.

Even though the Peak Cafe is no longer on the peak, it is still a great place to enjoy drinks and snacks or, if you are so inclined, a full dinner. It was loaded with noisy expats which actually made the ambiance more inviting.

If you are visiting Hong Kong put these sites on your list. If you live here and haven’t visited them, get off your butt and do so. You won’t regret it!