Hong Kong has brought a flood of nostalgic memories to Bob Mok as he visited historic buildings and dinned in old restaurants. But Beijing’s efforts to assimilate the city into Mainland China has caused identity crisis and raised fresh concerns among Hong Kongers.
For the previous articles on my Hong Kong tour, please click - http://096.ca/news/657848
When I was in Macau, I crossed over into China again and revisited my Ancestral Mansion (built in 1910) in a small village within the Zhuhai area in the Guangdong Province as one of my goals on this Asia Tour. During my stay in Hong Kong, I had a number of objectives. I wanted to visit my grandparents' graves and many of the locations where I spent my childhood and see the changes.
As it turned out, my childhood condominium was demolished and replaced. My parent's old business building still stood after 50 years. It was a tough journey to locate my grandparents graves. Once backing onto a mountain and overlooking the ocean in accordance with the best Chinese Feng Shui arrangement, its frontal view was obscured by multiple skyscrapers standing between them and the open seas.
The playground and concrete soccer field that I frequented were still standing. I even manged to revisit and dine in an old restaurant where I shared countless dinners with my father. A number of temples and historical building were well preserved as well.
My friends recommended a number of places of attractions and we visited them together. These were very nice places indeed:
1) Tsz Shan Temple – Located near Sha Tin, it is a new Chinese Buddhist Monastery. Li Ka-Shing contributed HK$1.7 billion from his personal foundation to cover the development and daily operating costs of the facility. This place can only be visited with advanced booking in groups. It is very private and not commercialized, unlike the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island.
2) Hong Kong Museum of History– Located in Tsim Sha Tsui and free of charge to visitors, it provides very organized presentations of Hong Kong's past. Starting with the first settlers, it follows the development and evolution of the one-time British Crown Colony. I could relate to a lot of the exhibits on typical shops, transportation vehicles, daily lives, and historical events experienced throughout my childhood. Unfortunately, the clock stops at 1997 for the exhibits – probably a disagreement on the verdict for those events between the historians and the new masters from China. Other than that, it was free and I found it very nostalgic.
3) Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery – Located on the same Island as the Airport, this is a "must" attraction to visit riding its breathtaking cable car ride up to the big buddha statue. For extra fees, one can even get onto glass bottom cable cars to enhance their excitement looking at over a thousand feet below. After passing through the small and commercialized shopping village, we arrived at the temple area and were greeted by some of the free-range cows (off-springs of farming cows running wild). There were too many daily visitors and I found it a bit way too crowded for a relaxed outing.
On the same outing, we visited the small fishing village of Tai O. This is a place to get boat tours for Chinese White Dolphins (only a few can be found) and we did not waste our money to get on the boats. Definitely a nice place to visit, eat some snacks and take some pictures.
4) Nan Lian Garden– Located at Diamond Hill, Kowloon. This is an oasis amongst the concrete jungle of skyscrapers nearby. The garden is connected to Chi Lin Nunnery to its north and occupies 35,000 sq meters. Designed in accordance with Tang Dynasty architecture, its pond, buddhist pine trees, waterfall, pavilions and temples will recharge any visitors with an outdoor experience unlike any other well within the hustling city. This is yet another free admission attraction.
Overall, I had a fun time in Hong Kong. Much have changed but some old stuff remains. My friends and relatives in Hong Kong were concerned about the future. The attempt to assimulate the Hong Kong people and their way of life into that of the Chinese main land has not been successful. Hong Kongers do not wish to give up their identity, their culture, and their rule of law to become like regular inhabitants of a Chinese city. The one country, two systems created by the late Chairman Tang is not unfolding as expected. The last chapter has yet to be played out and no one can predict its final outcome. Let us hope that it is not a tragic one.
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