31 May 2010

Hong Kong Travel Journal - Cheung Chau Bun Festival

snaking lines at the ferry terminal to Cheung Chau because it's a public holiday (the Buddha's birthday), and everyone wants to get there for the Bun Festival which falls on the same day

spotting the bun mountains (包山) as the ferry approaches the pier

the island was awash with psychedelic billboards, flags and banners

buns with the Chinese characters 平安 (safety) stamped on them, and that is exactly what they are believed to bring

biting into a custard-filled one

narrow lanes are lined with chairs and stools, and people scramble for prime seats to catch the street procession which will take place in the afternoon

the parade begins and will eventually wind its way to the Pak Tai Temple grounds where the bun mountains are

the parade's hottest draws are these kids, decked out in traditional costumes or as mythical characters, looking as though they are balancing precariously on the tips of swords, vases and columns of fragile items!

look, he's barely standing on the tip of a paper umbrella

and she, on a hoop, spear and lotus bed!

the little boy appears to be holding her aloft with nary an effort

everyone shouts and waves excitedly to get the kids' attention because they are just too darn cute

and the trick behind the illusion: they are perched on steel frames (although I still can't quite figure out exactly how...)

the riot of sounds and colours, plus the physical feats made for a really intense and fantastic experience

after the parade, we went hiking around the island, chilled out at a beach, and queued for hours to catch the bun-snatching race

at midnight, participants climb to the top of the bun mountain and fill their rucksacks with as many buns as they can within a stipulated time

a flurry of limbs and buns flying everywhere (the buns on this mountain are plastic; those on the three mountains behind are real, and are also removed at midnight for distribution the next day)

4:46 PM;

Hong Kong Travel Journal - Victoria Peak

waiting to board the Star Ferry which will bring us from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central

a near-vertical climb aboard the Peak tram soon takes us atop The Peak with its panoramic views

we skipped the Sky Terrace and opted for the Hong Kong Trail which circles the Peak

this waterfall is what greets us around a corner as we finish the approximately one-hour trail

now for the walk downhill

word-of-advice: buy a return ticket on the tram!

3:05 PM;

Hong Kong Travel Journal - Lamma Island

apocalyptic view from the living room my first morning in HK

on the ferry to Yang Shue Wan

taking a breather at a beach enroute from Yang Shui Wan to Sok Kwu Wan

an abundant herb garden and cafe just beside the beach

starting on the trail that wraps the coastline between Yang Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan

the views, of course, were spectacular

there were wild azaleas blooming all over

what you don't see is the thunderstorm that subsequently lashed down on our last leg of the trail and saw us seeking shelter in a cave, which I just found out on wikipedia, was among a few reputed to have been dug out by the Japanese during the war to hide their kamikaze boats!

1:25 PM;

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I lean my head slowly to the side, reflect on the camellia on the moss of the temple, reflect on a cup of tea, while outside the wind is rustling the foliage, the forward rush of life is crystallised in a brilliant jewel of a moment that knows neither plans nor future, human destiny is rescued from the pale succession of days, glows with light at last and, surpassing time, warms my tranquil heart.

- The Elegance of the Hedgehog,
Muriel Barbery


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