Shatin – A Social Experiment
During my stay in Hong Kong, as I have already mentioned in the previous article, I stayed at my boyfriend’s whose family kindly hosted me in their tiny house. They live in a residential area called Shatin located halfway between China and Hong Kong island; it takes 30 minutes by bus to reach Central. This area is absolutely tourist-free as here only hong kongers live.
Shatin is an area that was developed on the sides of the river Shing Mun in the 70s; my boyfriend said it was a “social experiment” to create a new community. I think it worked out somehow as here there are myriad of skyscrapers, looking all alike, inhabitated by so many people that put together could make up the population of Macau. Another feature of the houses in Hong Kong is that they are directly conntected to a nearby mall so that their residents can have access to every comforts like grocery shops, restaurants, stationeries, etc.
I would also say that Shatin is quite family-friendly for the nice promenade along the river and many parks scattered around. It is very peaceful and far away from the chaos of the city but there is nothing special around as this settlement is quite new so there is not an old town or local markets. Although the area is quite new, you can still find some temples like Che Kung Temple and the big complex of Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple located on the top of a hill.
Che Kung Temple
Che Kung (Che Gong in Mandarin) is the god this temple is dedicated to. He was a general during Southern Song dynasty and believed that he tried keep this lineage alive. This is one of the major temples that worhships Che Kung, the other one being in Ho Chung. The original temple built in the 17th century is hidden behind the newer one that was built because many people gather here for the Lunar New Year to celebrate so they needed a bigger one. When I visited there, there were, indeed, many worshippers burning incense and praying. I also noticed many fortune-tellers with their desks near the entrance door.
Inside the temple a giant statue of Che Kung can be found. Near him there is a fan that when turned, it is said it will bring you luck. I did not try because I did not know how it worked but my boyfriend explained me later. I did not see the real temple because it was behind the bigger one and I did not want to bother anyone so I did not dare to explore around xD
How To Reach
If you are staying in Hong Kong Island and do not plan coming to Shatin, I do not advice you to go here because it is pretty far away and you must change many metro lines but if you want to have a look, you just need to get off at Che Kung Temple Metro Station and walk 5 minutes et voila, you have reached your destination.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple
This temple was one of the weirdest I have ever encountered: there was Buddha but the style was very hindu-like and with many statues representing characters from chinese folklore. It was located on the top of a hill in Shatin District and surrounded by a forest. It was like going on the countryside because the skyscrapers decreased in number and smaller hourses and temporary barracks were taking their place. We passed by a buddhist monks gathering and we heard them chanting their sutras. Quite suggestive, I would say.
And here for the first time I saw monkeys! They are aggresive so do not try to touch or follow them if you happen to visit this place. They are all over the religious complex. I even met a veteran monkey with a scar on its eye and was sitting down like a boss as if it wanted to tell me that it is him who rules there ahah
I, later, discovered that the temple is not very old since was built in the 50s by a devout buddhist that came from China. Although he was already quite old, he carried all the materials up to the top of the hill and built all the 12.000 buddhist statues. The statues can be found along the path, which leads to the temple at the top. The journey up is quite tiring because the road is very steep so better prepare yourself with the right outfit and equipment.
The religious complex itself is very big and includes 5 different halls. Once you reach the top of the pathway, you will find yourself in a big square with a red pagoda and a big temple that treasures the statue of buddha and all the wishes people ask to him. There is a price to pay if you want to leave a wish there and the price increases according to how long you want the wish to be displayed inside…quite demanding these temples eh?! All the people asked for the same thing: money, luck, things go smooth and health. Poor Buddha, he must be bored.
On the right side of the main hall you find another path with other golden statues that would represent the Chinese Horoscope generals. If your year is unlucky you must pass through this pathway so that your jink will effect you less in your life. At the top we found other two halls: one was meant for the ashes of the dead, whereas in the other one some chinese deities were displayed such as the red and angry god. My boyfriend’s father explained me he is a gate guardian…well, it suits him very well, his face is contorted with rage that would make me never approach that gate D: On the left there was also a small square with all the generals that are represented in the chinese horoscope.
Here you need an explanation: chinese horoscope is different from the western one: while we have Virgos, Taurus etc, they have the Pig, Rat, Dragon, Snake etc and all of them are represented by 12 generals that might have really existed in Ancient China. Another difference with our horoscope is that the sign is not assigned following the months but the years you were born in (I was born in 1996 therefore I am a rat).
Located between the two halls, there is a crumbling house that could be used in a horror movie. It was abandoned in 2001 when a landslide hit the area and the buddhist nun that was living there escaped. After having explored far and wide, we decided to come back and walked down a new path whose sides there were other statues representing buddhist monks. They were very funny with different expressions and weird poses xD Also, walking down is quite difficult because it is freaking steep!