A Travellerspoint blog

In the Land of the Nine Dragons.

The prettier parts of Kowloon.

sunny

We celebrated Christmas in Hong Kong this year. Normally we would be off somewhere else. I made a turkey, just for the two of us. It's been our breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since. I reckon this will continue till the end of Tuesday, but I don't mind, I'm not fed up with it yet. My romantic husband had roses delivered to me on Christmas Day. They are beautiful and huge, twelve wonderful red roses.

Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner.

My wonderful roses.

My wonderful roses.

Today, Sunday 27th December, I decided I'd had enough of staying in and eating and drinking all day and I set out to explore more of Hong Kong. Just like when I visited the markets, I headed off to Kowloon again.

Kowloon means nine dragons. It was called this by Emperor Zhao Bing, the final emperor of the Song Dynasty, who died when he was just seven years old. The dragons were the area's eight tall mountains. The ninth dragon was the emperor himself.

I started my explorations by heading to Lok Fu to visit Kowloon Walled City Park. I found Lok Fu to be quite a pleasant place. Its name means Happiness and Wealth. On the way to the park I visited the Chinese Christian Cemetery, the stone houses, Hau Wong Temple and Carpenter Road Park.

The Chinese Christian Cemetery, like most cemeteries here, is located on a hill. I just took some photos from the bottom. I didn't really explore.

Chinese Christian Cemetery.

Chinese Christian Cemetery.

Chinese Christian Cemetery.

Chinese Christian Cemetery.

During the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong some stone cottages were built in this area to house refugees. In the 1950's these cottages were taken over by Great Wall Film Studios. Nowadays the remaining cottages form a cafe and a small museum about Kai Tak Airport.

Stone Houses.

Stone Houses.

Stone Houses.

Stone Houses.

Opposite the cottages on a small hill sits Hau Wong Temple, dating from around 1730. It is dedicated to Yeung Leung-jit, a loyal and courageous general, who tried to protect Zhao Bing, the last emperor of Southern Song Dynasty (the one who gave Kowloon it's name), from the advancing Mongol army.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Hau Wong Temple.

Carpenter Road Park is right next to Kowloon Walled City Park. It had lots of colourful autumnal trees.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

Carpenter Road Park.

The history of the Kowloon Walled City is interesting. The first Opium War lasted from 1839 to 1842 when the Chinese government attempted to prevent the East India Company from importing narcotics to China. Following its defeat in the war, China signed a treaty ceding a portion of its territory to Great Britain. That territory was Hong Kong Island. In 1843, the Chinese began to build a fort at the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula. This fort had an office for the Mandarin and a barracks for around one hundred and fifty soldiers. It was surrounded by thick walls and became known as Kowloon Walled City. Its purpose was to remind the British of China's presence and military might, so they did not try to take any more of its territory. However, in 1860, further disputes over trade caused a second Opium War. The British defeated the Chinese, and they were forced to sign a new treaty granting the whole of the Kowloon Peninsula to Britain, except the Walled City. It still remained Chinese.

Walkways.

Walkways.

Windows.

Windows.

Early morning Tai chi.

Early morning Tai chi.

Pond.

Pond.

Pond.

Pond.

Old Photo

Old Photo

Mandarin's House.

Mandarin's House.

And through the round window....

And through the round window....

And through the round window....

And through the round window....

And through the round window....

And through the round window....

Even when a new treaty was signed in 1898 granting further territories in Canton to Britain for 99 years, the Walled City remained under Chinese control. Then in 1899 the Chinese abandoned the city but it still did not come under British control. Many immigrants from the mainland moved in. In World War II Japanese forces tore down the walls of the city to build a new runway for Kai Tak Airport. After the war, refugees flooded south to Kowloon and many ended up living in The Walled City. By 1947 there were more than 2,000 squatters living there. At first the British tried to evict them, but they failed.

Rocks.

Rocks.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Stairways.

Stairways.

Ponds.

Ponds.

Buildings.

Buildings.

Buildings.

Buildings.

Chinese Zodiac Gardens.

Chinese Zodiac Gardens.

Chinese Zodiac Gardens.

Chinese Zodiac Gardens.

Chinese Zodiac Gardens.

Chinese Zodiac Gardens.

Foundations.

Foundations.

In quiet contemplation.

In quiet contemplation.

The walled city thrived outside the law. It became filled with illegal structures. It was well known for drugs, gangs and prostitution. It was even a place where unlicensed doctors and dentists could play their trade. It was one of the most densely packed places on Earth with no water supply and no rubbish collection. It quickly deteriorated into a huge lawless slum. At the same time it became home to many factories creating food stuffs and cheap goods. As more and more, taller and taller illegal buildings were constructed, they began to merge into one giant building, completely blocking out the sunlight. Thus the walled city earned the nickname - the City of Darkness.

Cannons.

Cannons.

Canon.

Canon.

Vessels.

Vessels.

Vessels.

Vessels.

Looking through.

Looking through.

Looking through.

Looking through.

Entrance to the almshouse.

Entrance to the almshouse.

Ponds.

Ponds.

Ponds.

Ponds.

Model of the walled city.

Model of the walled city.

Ponds.

Ponds.

Markers.

Markers.

Walkway.

Walkway.

Rickshaw.

Rickshaw.

Stream.

Stream.

In 1987 the British began to plan the enforced clearance of the walled city and its redevelopment as a public park, but it took them till 1993 to actually begin demolition once compensation had finally been agreed with most of the city's inhabitants - some resisted right to the very end. During the clearance, stone markers, cannons, the original Mandarin's office and fragments of the original walls were found. These were kept. The new park was modelled on the famous seventeenth-century Jiangnan gardens built by the Qing Dynasty. Kowloon Walled City Park was officially opened on December 22nd 1995 by, the then British Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. Nowadays the park is amazingly beautiful and very, very far removed from its days as the City of Darkness.

Ornate Screens.

Ornate Screens.

Old Photo.

Old Photo.

Stairway.

Stairway.

Ponds.

Ponds.

Autumn Leaves.

Autumn Leaves.

Stream.

Stream.

Pond.

Pond.

Stream.

Stream.

Autumn.

Autumn.

Autumn.

Autumn.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Walls.

Walls.

Pagodas.

Pagodas.

On my walk back to the MTR I noticed there were good views towards Lion Rock. There are many hiking trails, too.

Looking towards Lion Rock.

Looking towards Lion Rock.

Looking towards Lion Rock.

Looking towards Lion Rock.

I next took the MTR one stop further on to Wong Tai Sin to see its famous temple. Fortunately I have been here before because the temple is currently being restored. It's a mess, covered everywhere with bamboo scaffolding. I know buildings have to be maintained but in terms of taking photos this was a pointless time to visit.

Temple Gateway.

Temple Gateway.

Dragon Pillars.

Dragon Pillars.

Gods.

Gods.

Gods.

Gods.

General Office.

General Office.

Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese Zodiac.

Entrance Gateway .

Entrance Gateway .

Many people go to this temple to have their fortunes told. There are rows of fortune telling booths at the entrance. To have your fortune told you think of a question you want answered, shake a container so that a numbered stick falls out, take the numbered stick to a fortune teller and pay them to tell you what it means.

Fortune teller.

Fortune teller.

Fortune teller.

Fortune teller.

Many people were worshiping at this temple despite the mess. They buy incense sticks and wishing papers from the stalls at the front of the temple. They wave the lit incense in front of one of their gods, write a family member or friend's name on the wishing paper, then burn it to send the wish to heaven.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

Worshippers.

Worshippers.

Worshippers.

Worshippers.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

One of the gods.

One of the gods.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms.

A trolley of lanterns.

A trolley of lanterns.

Sik Sik Yuen or Wong Tai Sin Temple is the busiest temple in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to the god of healing, Wong Tai Sin. It's a Taoist, Buddhist and Confucianist temple.

Stone Lion.

Stone Lion.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Finally I took the MTR to Diamond Hill to visit the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery.

Nan Lian Garden is based on the Jiangshouju Garden in Shanxi Province, which dates from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). All the timber structures here are built without a single nail. They are joined together with interlocking pieces. The gardens here are beautiful with winding paths, rock formations, a reflecting pool, waterfalls and water wheels. Right in the centre stands the stunning golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection with its red wooden bridge.

Timber buildings.

Timber buildings.

Bonsai.

Bonsai.

Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Water wheel.

Water wheel.

Rock Garden.

Rock Garden.

Timber buildings.

Timber buildings.

Rock Garden.

Rock Garden.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Water wheel.

Water wheel.

Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Autumn.

Autumn.

Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Golden Pavilion of Absolute Perfection.

Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool.

Rock Garden.

Rock Garden.

Connected to the gardens by a bridge over a main road sits the Chi Lin Nunnery. The Chi Lin Nunnery was created in 1934. it was opened to the public in 2000. As well as being a place of worship for Buddhists, the nunnery is also a school, a library, a dentist and a residence for the elderly. The nunnery's Lotus Pond Garden and Hall of Celestial Kings are normally open to the public but due to covid only the lotus ponds were open today.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Lotus ponds.

Lotus ponds.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

Posted by irenevt 21:12 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Hello again Irene, how lucky you are to be living in a tropical climate, here in Glasgow it's snowing today, but I noticed an absence of hubby's beers in the Christmas dinner picture, have you both gone all posh and switched to wine?

Nice pictures as usual in the tropics...

by Bennytheball

Hi Benny, Happy Christmas. My husband has not switched to wine. He just has the occasional glass. I also usually drink beer but I have wine sometimes at the weekend when I don't have to get up early. Hope you had an enjoyable Christmas. We're still eating our turkey. Tomorrow may be the last of it!

by irenevt

Fantastic pictures Alec Stay Safe.

by alectrevor

Thank you for visiting. Hope all good with you.

by irenevt

I have already fed up of our ham..4 days and almost nothing else to eat...

I know next to nothing of the Opium wars, how come the chinese lose them?

Beautiful gardens! And photos :)

by hennaonthetrek

Haha, swap you some of our turkey for some of your ham.

I'm not a history expert but I think the Chinese leadership at the time was a bit weak and the British had better weapons basically. China was forced to sign away territory in Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai and Tsingtao to various foreign powers during the Quing Dynasty, I think.

by irenevt

I thought it might be something like that but wasn't sure :)

Turkey/ham- swap sounds really good....:D

by hennaonthetrek

Love all the gardens. Your Christmas roses were beautiful.

We're still working on our turkey. I'm making turkey pot pie tonight and we'll have half with half for later. That should take care of the turkey. I honestly could eat it daily for a couple weeks.

Beautiful pictures.

by Beausoleil

My Christmas roses are still thriving. Today should see the last of the turkey.

by irenevt

Fascinating history of Kowloon Walled City, and so many beautiful photo ops there! I loved the Nan Lian Garden shots too, especially the reflecting pool, and the nunnery. What a great day out!

by ToonSarah

I am ashamed to say I didn't know the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens existed till recently.I've been meaning to go to Kowloon Walled City for years.

by irenevt

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