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Vince J. Celeste


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Vince J. Celeste


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Hong Kong: More Than Just A Good Place for Exposure

May 7, 2011 Travel

You may think that my educational exposure will be confined inside the school campuses only where I am supposed to stay. That’s what I thought at first, too! But indeed, there are other good places you can find worthy to visit while staying in Hong Kong.

This entry is all about my two-day adventure, an opportunity given to me by the generous people here at Saint Francis Xavier’s College in Kowloon. Thanks to Mr. Iu (Yo), the Vice Principal of the school, the Superior of the community and of course, the two SFXC boys who accompanied me for two days: Henry Yan and Steven Wong. Although I had my other exposures together with a Brother few days ago, this one is different.

Chinese TempleI had no plan at all in which place to visit and when to visit; no itinerary at all. But thanks to Henry and Steven. They seemed to know where and when are the best time to visit the best places I actually wanted to see. If you want to visit Hong Kong for a tour, I can recommend them to you.

The SFXC is just few minutes away from Prince Edward MTR station, and from there, we planned to visit the Wong Tai Sin Temple located at the northern side of the Lion Rock in the North of Kowloon. It is a Taoist temple which is one of the famous shrines in Hong Kong. I have learned from my companions that it is famous because of answered prayers to those who seek for answers to their questions. Three of us, out of curiosity and maybe out of “fun” we tried to do the Kau Cim; done by shaking a bamboo cylinder containing numbered sticks which is to be exchanged with a piece of paper containing poems or stories and an interpreter would interpret it for the seeker. I was a little bit nervous doing it when four sticks fell at the same time! It was supposed to be only one. I returned them to the cylinder and shook it again until I got one. Henry and Steven did the same, and it was their first time, too! We stayed for w while and enjoyed the moment at the temple garden and before we left, we tried to know the meaning of the sticks we got from the soothsayers… We learned that we have things in common: Me, Henry and Steven were born on the same year of the Monkey and same element Water! What a coincidence?  Just for fun!

Chinese Monk

From Wong Tai Sin temple, we made a walk through the long and narrow street called Ladies Market. I thought it was all about ladies’ stuff. I was wrong! Ladies Market is just at Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok area. Here you can find a lot of stuff for “pasalubong.” Anything from clothing to bags and wallets, from gadget accessories to bling-bling or any ladies’ accessories, stuff toys and jade stones, all in cheaper price! You will find yourself enjoying listening to the Chinese vendors and buyers. Phrase of the day, “How much is your last price?” Always ask for discounts, LOL!It is a must-visit place for fashionistas.

After a long walk, a good cup of Jasmin Tea was a reliever for me. Henry ordered a delicacy which I forgot the name, LOL! Pero sa amin, ang tawag nito ay “Gulaman.” Tastes delicious, indeed.

It was a late tea time! Just by walking, we reached a place where food is served using a hotted clay pot. It is in fact, according to Henry and Steven, one of best claypot rice servings here in Hong Kong! Rice is served with savory toppings as it is cooked in a traditional way: heating the pot on a fire. if you come here in Hong Kong looking for this kind of food serving, don’t miss it near the Temple Street near Yau Ma Tei.

Talking about Temple Street, it is a night market famous for inexpensive stuff especially for men. If Ladies’ Market is famed for ladies’ accessories, Temple street is famed for it’s items like clothes, buckles, sunglasses, even toys for boys. Electronic gadgets and hardware are also being sold on that place.

From Temple Street Night Market, we never missed to visit the Clock Tower passing by Hong Kong Cultural Center located on the southern shore of Tsim Sha Tsui near the Victoria harbor. It is also called Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower. You can notice that it is made of bricks and granite which stands around 40 meters high and another few meters of lightning rod.

After that tiring yet enjoyable tour, we find our way back to SFXC and planned for the next day as a continuation of our Hong Kong adventure.

The Second Day

The second day of strolling started at Nam Cheong MTR Station to Tsing Yi. It was so far the biggest train station I’ve ever been to. It’s just near SFXC so we decided to walk. And just from walking I learned about the neighborhood and the housing system of Hong Kong from the accounts of my two companions. Henry and Steven were still with me.

Golden Buddha

From Tsing Yi, we took the bus to our first destination: the Noah’s Ark at Ma Wan Park in Tsuen Wan! From there, we can see the views of the spectacular Tsing Ma bridge and Ma Wan Channel. Noah’s ark, is the world’s first full-sized replica of the Ark mentioned in the Bible. It in-houses stimulating and inspiring displays, ala-museum rooms and even restos and a resort.  After an hour, we again went back to Tsing Yi MTR station and from there, we went straight to Tung Chung station in Lantau Island.

At Lantau Island, you can visit at least three interesting places: the Ngong Ping 360 Cable cars, the Po Lin Monastery and the Giant Buddha and the Tai O fishing village of the same Lantau Island. It was just a wise decision for us to take the cable car of Ngong Ping first in going to Po Lin Monastery at Ngong Ping. The sky was clear and though sunny, it wasn’t humid as I expected. For almost half an hour of enjoying the views from the heights, the thrills we experienced at the crystal cabin, we reached Ngong Ping, a village about 460 meters above sea-level at the western-central part of the Lantau Island. We passed by the village going to the famous Po Lin Monastery.

It was a blessing for us, the weather cooperated with us and most of all, it was a good timing to watch the different presentations of the Shaolin Kung Fu people of the monastery. For the first time of my life, I watched those monks with their moves that I have only seen on movies. We enjoyed and fascinated that we forgot to take lunch. At the monastery, I had the chance to give the little Buddha a bath, a practice of the Buddhist people as they prepare for the coming birthday of the Buddha on May 10. And also for the first time, I saw and touched the real lotus flower. It was indeed beautiful!

After the show, we took our late lunch at the Monastery’s refectory. It was half-past four already. They served hot tea and vegetables for us. They don’t serve any kind of meat, but I really like the way how they cooked their food! I instantly became an expert in using my chopstick for a while, LOL! My heart seems cannot contain all my experiences that time. I can still feel satisfied and glad with all my experiences.

Aside from the good food and tea, the next move was to climb the more or less 250 steps going to the shrine of the golden Buddha. It was just near the Po Lin Monastery. It was an experience of awe for me. In fact I was led into prayer when I asked for privacy for at least 15 minutes. I hid at the back of the Buddha and had my solitude. It was a religious experience for me. Was I being enlightened just like Buddha? LOL! Not really, except that I found something in me as I was struggling to attain serenity at that moment. My two companion knew what I have written in a piece of paper when we were ask to write our last message within 30 seconds when we were at Noah’s Ark. The day from Noah’s Ark up to the Buddha’s shrine was like a retreat for me. I’ll just keep what I have noticed, LOL!

Lan Tau Island Hong KongThe guard came and told me that it was about time for them to close the shrine, though a little bit disappointed, we started walking down again the same 250 steps. Tiring but memorable.

We took the bus going to our next destination: the Tai O fishing village located in Tai O, north-western coast of Lantau Island. We walked through the Chinese stilt-house community. They are famouse of dried fish and other exotic seafood! We didn’t miss eating in one of the local restaurant in that village. Delicious at cheaper price, I can say, I had a good supper at Tai O village.

At around eight in the evening, we decided to go home by taking another bus going back to Tung Chung station and the train brought us back to Nam Cheong. The day ended with so many memorable experiences by just visiting new places, meeting new people and learning from two-day tour, it was more than an exposure for me.

Thanks to Henry and Steven, to Mr. Io and to the Brothers of SFXC. I can say, I’m blest!


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