Sunday, April 17, 2011

Items From the Past: Wong Tai Sin Temple and the Shing Mun Redoubt

On the afternoon of [April 10, 1994], we went to Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon, a colorful, lively place. A weekend crowd was there and the air was smoky thick with burning joss. It is the first Taoist temple I've ever been to, though if I hadn't read about it beforehand, I'm not expert enough in Chinese religion to have known that.

The Main Altar of Wong Tai Sin Temple. According to Travel China Guide, "Many people who visit the temple come to have their fortunes told. Generally, worshippers entreat the fate of the same year. They light worship sticks, kneel before the main altar, make a wish, and shake a bamboo cylinder containing fortune sticks until one falls out."

Friday [April 15, 1994], found us on a short trip out to the New Territories. We spent part of the day walking a series of trails connected to the MacLehose Trail, "family walks" in the parlance of the Hong Kong park service. To get there, you take the subway to the end of the line at Tseun Wan, a major nexus of danchi and construction sites. From there, take a microbus to Shing Mun Country Park, a fine green spot around a reservoir dug in the '30s to supply the city. Hong Kong usually isn't associated with this kind of greenery. Almost no one else was there -- I don't associate a lack of crowds with the place either, but the park defied expectations. Maybe it's a different story on weekends.

We were under a double layer of shade: tall trees, and above that, a high thin layer of clouds. So the walking was cool. Later we did go on a section of the MacLehose Trail proper, Section 6, and hiked up a hill to the Shing Mun Redoubt, or what was left of it from the battle in '41. Still in evidence were long tunnels made of concrete, dug through the top of the hill. At their entrances are fanciful names -- London streets. Later generations have added graffiti to the ruins, and nature is slowly eating away at the concrete.

A fragment of the Shing Mun Redoubt along the MacLehose Trail, which snakes through the New Territories for about 60 miles. I'm not sure why I didn't take any photos of the overgrown concrete bunkers nearby.

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