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Can We Weekend Again?

Enforced Relaxation in Hong Kong

overcast 24 °C

Friday evenings used to offer the promise of a relaxed Saturday morning, and the excitement of a weekend. No longer! While every day is kind of a weekend for us (in the sense that we are taking an extended break from paid employment), the World Trip has become our job, and - though it may be hard to convince you of this - every day is work. There's constant planning, research, execution, writing, packing, moving, laundry etc etc. We are perhaps inevitably 'relaxing' even less than we were back in CA! Not complaining, of course - it's the price of this kind of concentrated travel experience and we wouldn't change that for the world, but an interesting observation that I thought worth sharing.

This weekend, we wanted a weekend again. Turns out that we won’t be in one place for this long (seven nights!!!) for the rest of our trip, so we wanted to take the opportunity to rest up and regroup. We won’t see a ‘first world’ hotel again for more than a month, so we wanted to enjoy it! As I write, Lloyd is enjoying a much needed deep tissue massage to set him up for the month of ‘heavy lifting’ ahead! And we are likely to spend much of today (Sunday) on enforced relaxation!

That said, we did manage yesterday to head out of the very centre of Hong Kong to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery which is a Buddhist monastery. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the many large gold statues of bodhisattvas (those who have achieved enlightenment), nor would we have felt comfortable doing so as this was an active place of worship for the majority of visitors. But you can see for yourself that the Nunnery is a series of buildings around landscaped courtyards whose beauty is only magnified by its urban setting. It’s not as old as it might look in the photos – part of it dates from the 1930s, but some of it was finished only just before the Millennium. If it looks impressive, bear in mind that the buildings use only traditional Tang Dynasty techniques to hold the structure together – that means no nails anywhere.

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Opposite the Nunnery is the new Nan Lian Garden that only opened in November last year. Funded in part by the Government, but maintained by the Nunnery, the Garden is intended to preserve Tang Dynasty landscaping techniques. Once again, it is set right in the middle of an extremely built up urban area, but offers an oasis of calm, with beautiful water features and perfectly landscaped terraces. Well worth seeing.

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After the Nunnery, we headed to the Hong Kong Museum of Heritage which turned out to be rather similar to the Hong Kong Experience at the Museum of History (so no need to do both if you are coming to Hong Kong). We found ourselves participating, however, in another of the Tourist Board’s Cultural programmes, and sat through a surprisingly interesting class on Cantonese opera (with our student teacher very capably demonstrating classic opera moves and singing styles). After the brief class, we were invited to observe a ‘real’ Cantonese opera in progress (part of the Heritage Museum’s program to –well- preserve Hong Kong’s Heritage). And so we found ourselves unexpectedly tortured by the ‘Siege of An Zhou’, a happily brief opera. Our ears may have been tortured, but it was wonderful to see some of what we had just learned in practice, and to experience the flamboyant costumes and make up of the Cantonese opera.

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This is me with Cantonese Opera Make-Up (Simulated!)

We made it back to the hotel in time for the complimentary afternoon tea (infinitely better than the Peninsula!), and then we worked on the blog until it was time to head down to Victoria Harbor for the 8pm Symphony of Lights! Now, the sound and light show - which utilizes Hong Kong’s sky scrapers as the canvas – happens every night, but with one special, added ingredient on Saturday nights: fireworks!

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Posted by jacquiedro 21:05 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged round_the_world

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Greatest travel blog on the web, up to date, valuable insights (it's work; get a massage, skip tea here / have it there), even opera AND fireworks, the best, keep up the good work for us armchair travellers

by pshack

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