Monday, January 21, 2013

There are always interesting things to do in Hong Kong

We have been to Hong Kong many times but there is always something different to see and do. Hong Kong is very modern. It is a vertical city much like New York City. But Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than New York and they are still building more tall buildings. Most of the skyscrapers are apartment buildings. Some are 70 stories tall. Very few people in Hong Kong live in private homes.

We stayed at the Ibis hotel on Hong Kong Island where we had a new taste treat for breakfast – glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. Another name for glutinous rice is sticky rice which we think sounds better. Regardless of the name it was very good. We like to try new foods.

Hong Kong is very modern but we like to find places that remind us of Hong Kong from many years ago. One day we went to Man Mo Temple. It is a Buddhist temple. Buddhism is very popular in Asia. They say it is a philosophy but it is a lot like a religion. The colorful Buddhist temple is surrounded by tall buildings. We love the smell of Buddhist temples because worshippers burn incense as part of their prayers. They also light candles and bring offerings of food. The Man Mo temple was built by a rich man in the early 1800s to honor the God of Literature and the God of Martial Arts. Beside statues honoring the two men there were huge drums and bells. On feast days they put the statues of the men in gold-covered chairs and carry them in a procession that includes people ringing bells and beating drums. We would love so see that some day. It must be very colorful and exciting.

Outside the Ibis Hotel there was a stop for the historic tram which has been in operation for more than 100 years. There is advertising on the trams and we were surprised to see a big ad for Spam. Spam is an American ham-like product that is very popular in Asia. The American soldiers shared their Spam with local people during World War II and now Asians eat more Spam than Americans.

One day we took the tram to a spot that was very interesting. We found a place where they still practice an ancient tradition right in the middle of a very modern city. In a space under the highway overpass there are ladies who do what is called “Petty Person Beating.” A petty person is someone who annoys you. The old ladies have little shrines set up with statues of Buddhist gods and saints. The lady had us write down the name of the person who annoys us. Then she burns some incense. Then she took a paper with designs of people on it and beat it with an old shoe after which she wrapped it in another piece of paper with a tiger drawing on it. Then she set it on fire along with the paper with the person’ name on it and waved it around us. All the while she is chanting a prayer. We wonder if it works regardless I think the annoyed person feels better. The ladies were quite busy. We think it is interesting to learn about the ways other people do things.