Looking upon the Hong Kong skyline is incredibly fascinating; in the forefront, ships and cranes floating on the bay, then a metropolitan facade, with hazy mountains in the background. This multidimensional scene is striking and defines Hong Kong in many ways.
I am surprised by how much I have loved Hong Kong despite its size and Westernized culture. With more English language spoken than mainland China as well as efficient forms of transportation, I feel like myself again. It has been empowering to be able to navigate my way through areas of the city with ease and without an interpreter. A map in hand, I was able to walk anywhere or hop onto the MTR (subway) or Star Ferry.
Surprised by how efficient the Embassy was at processing our Work Visas, Arnold and I were able to spend most of our time seeing the city! Walking the streets we visited various public gardens that are tucked away into the cityscape.
Here are some other highlights:
“The Peak” is the highest point in Hong Kong, towering 552 meters above sea level. Due to its cool temperatures in the summer, Governor MacDonnell built a summer home on the mountain in 1868 and by 1904 it had become a residential area. It is now one of the most well known attractions of Hong Kong, bringing in 7 million visitors a year (Read more about the history here). We were able to take the Tram up the mountain to see spectacular views of the area including our first sunset experience in China!
Another well know attraction is the Tian Tan Buddha sitting on Lantau Island. This 34 meter, bronze Buddha statue faces north to stare across Hong Kong. We were able to approach this monstrosity by climbing 268 steps. This island is also home to Po Lin Monastery. Founded in 1906 by three visiting monks of the Jiangsu provence. The main temple houses three Buddha statues representing his past, present, and future lives. The Tian Tan Buddha was an addition to the monastery in 1993.
The area is dotted with paths and trails so we ventured up “Wisdom Path.” This path, which is shaped like and infinity symbol, is lined with 38 wooden monuments containing verses of the Heart Sutra. This sutra is centuries old and one of the most well-known prayers among Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist followers. Check out the translation here! It always amazes me how places with other spiritual foundations can be so powerful. As I walked the infinity path in prayer the Holy Spirit was so incredibly present in my heart and in the wind blowing through the trees.
Chi Lin Nunnery was founded as a Buddhist temple complex in 1934. It has since been mostly rebuilt in traditional Chinese style of the Tang Dynasty. The temple halls and garden are open to the public!
Upon entering the main gates (shan men) a golden plaque reads, “Literally Shan Men means the mountain gate as most monasteries are situated in the mountains, far from the crowd. When one enters the mountain gate, one leaves behind the tribulations of the secular life…When one enters the monastery, it is hoped that one can attain spiritual liberation.”
I found this a fitting place to end my sightseeing of Hong Kong. Though the monastery is now situated in the middle of the city, stepping through the mountain gate is a breath of fresh air. The quiet hallways and contemplative atmosphere were just what I needed to transition my mind from this Hong Kong lifestyle to that of traveling to Ningxia tomorrow.
It has been a blessing to be a part of this happening city the past few days, but I am ready to settle down in Ningxia and really begin this journey.
Today I pray with the words of Psalm 62:1 “My soul waits silently for God; my salvation comes from Him.” I am very much at peace and eager in heart and mind. Please pray for safety in travels over the next few days (planes, buses, and layovers), as well as comfort in settling in and getting started.
Next stop… Guyuan, Ningxia! Until we meet again, Hong Kong!