Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Temples of Hong Kong and Macau

One of the pleasures of Hong Kong is that often you'd turn a corner and there would be a temple in front of you, exotic mix of gold and red, smelling of incense. Its part of the mix of old and new I mentioned before that is one of the attractions of Hong Kong.

So here are the top three of those I saw, starting with the Tin Hau temple (above) that was just around the corner from my hotel, so was one of the first things I saw on my visit. Its not that large and surrounded by tower blocks (such as, er, my hotel).

It is dedicated to the patroness of seafarers (hurruh!) and initially wondered what it was doing hundred metres or so from the sea, but apparently it used to be water front before a round of land reclamation.

Next up is the A-Ma temple in Macau (below), which is opposite the Maritime Museum. Apparently when the Portuguese arrived they asked the name of the place and was told it was A-Ma Gau (Bay of A-Ma) from which they derived Macau.

A-Ma is known in Hong Kong as Tin Hau - so this another temple to seafarers, including fishermen.

There are various stories behind her, some of which are on in Wikipedia here, but the guide book also had another, based on how she wanted to travel to Guangzhou but the rich junks refused to help. A poor fisherman was prepared to give her passage: during the voyage a storm blew up and wrecked all the junks but saved the little fishing boat. On arrival after this miracle she ascended to heaven and the temple was built on the spot

Within the complex there is a large boulder with a traditional sailing boat embossed on it:

There are temples to many other causes than seafarers: for example this elegant temple was in the New Territories at Tai Po and is dedicated to Man Mo, and as such dedicated to the gods of literature and war.

To me thats an odd combination, but there's no doubt its a lovely building. There was another Man Mo temple in Hong Kong's Sheung Wan district I never got round to seeing (another next time) but I was in Tai Po on business so seemed a good chance to drop in.

It had this impressive drum and bell combination that wish had a chance to hear:

More on Tai Po later....

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