Hong Kong Dispatch no 3

Last night, my cousin’s girlfriend – Mingchao, who resides in Hong Kong – and I tumbled through the SoHo district, though it was only I who on several occasions nearly pitched head first into unnoticed ditches and drainage ways. (Ultimately somehow remaining upright.)

For the above to make sense, I wish I could for you spin a web made of ice, copious amounts of local liquor, ramen noodles, and discussions of communism as religion.

Sadly, I have no such tale to hand you. Rather, the reality that I was merely jet-lagged in an area where ‘Beware. Street uneven’ should in fact be expressed as ‘Achtung! Falling off pavement highly probable’.

We visited Man Mo Temple, and storefront peeked at the gorgeous antique and art galleries across SoHo on Hollywood Rd, finishing our evening at Lil’ Siam (a place I highly recommend, as it is among the top three Thai restaurants I have experienced). I had pomelo salad with sliced shallots and dried coconut, while Mingchao feasted on a tofu peanut salad and a drink the size of her head. It was an entire fresh coconut, the inside of which had been shaved and crushed into a drink mixture; they leave a thick enough layer which you can work through with a spoon, in order to eat whole fresh chunks of coconut. The logistics of this drink are very complex, but well worth the effort. Have it at street address G/F, 38 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central.

Last Mingchao and I hung out was in Tunis, and so it was quite a wonderful night filled with the warmth of friendship and distant family.

Tonight brought visits to both an absolutely stunning Buddhist Temple, inside of which I said a little prayer and planted some incense, and the largest Masjid (mosque) in Hong Kong.

The Temple was breathtaking in its attention to detail, and fun as it was surrounded by over 70 stalls of fortune tellers (none of whom I stopped to visit, as I am entirely disinterested in knowing anything beyond what is present).

What was most interesting, however, were the multitude of deities I saw inside of the Temple, some of whom were animals. As I had always understood (in my own little way) that Buddhism was essentially a tradition of monotheism, with Buddha at the acme, I wasn’t certain what I was seeing.

For those of you who are regular readers, you already know that I attempt to see connections and similarities rather than differences; this is a key part of how I approach faith traditions, and so I was excited to learn that the represented deities were in fact different representations of the one Buddha; for me then, monotheism stands.

Kowloon Masjid, on the other hand, was nowhere near as ornate, but it was beautiful to me. I performed a small prayer – something which I have not done in months, sadly – and then made my way down to the harbor front to watch Hong Kong’s famed Symphony of Lights Show, before capping the night off with spicy kimchi and green tea ice-cream (the former I loved, the later too bitter for me).

Tomorrow evening, I am hoping to find a panda…or four.

Note 1: “Hai”, pronounced as the English “Hi, hello!” means “yes”, something I did not know until earlier today. Suffice it to say that my late discovery of this word’s meaning has made for a multitude of interesting, warm for me, creepy for others, and relatively confusing moments over the course of the last five days.

Note 2: The FKN escalators here function at break neck speed. A speed so high that it’s in fact nauseating, and ACHTUNG! worthy. If I suddenly stop updating, please note it is because an escalator ate me.

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