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HolidayCity Flash June Edition - Monthly

Visiting Hong Kong’s Man Mo Temple

I had come to Hong Kong to visit my sister, who had married an expatriate and was now living a rather enviable life in this vibrant, madly hectic city. With almost three weeks to do my shopping, sight-seeing and lazing about, I had thought I was in for a quiet time; but I hadn’t reckoned on the Monster.

My sister’s precocious 13-year-old daughter thoroughly deserved her nickname. I spent an inordinate amount of time chasing her about Hong Kong as she was delegated to ‘show me the sights’; this often included seeing her back disappearing into a crowd as she yelled “Come on, Auntie!”. Still, we managed to ‘do’ the Peak, Nathan Road, the beach at Repulse Bay, Stanley Market, random open-air markets and at her insistence, Disneyland.

In the midst of all these sight-seeing, my favourite stops were the brief visits we made to the many temples in Hong Kong. I had always admired the colour and vibrancy of Chinese temples and this was my chance to see them in real life.

On that particular day, the Monster decided I should see Man Mo Temple, which was after all the most popular temple in Hong Kong. The numerous tour buses parked near the temple were proof enough of that!

Man Mo Temple itself was a riot of colours: bright red pillars and walls, jade green roof tiles, gold frescoes and indecipherable characters everywhere in all colours of the rainbow. It seemed like there were hundreds of people throughout the temple, adding their own noise and colour to the scene. It was overwhelming and exciting.

The Monster dragged me to a row of stalls nearby, which were apparently the domain of the fortune tellers. On her instructions, I pulled a marked ‘fortune stick’ from a bamboo tube the fortune teller had shook, then used the number to dig out a piece of paper with some more indecipherable characters on it from a row of similarly numbered drawers nearby. The fortune teller then interpreted my fortune from the paper, which I have to say, I’m still waiting to see if it comes true!

I was pondering my fortunes when I realised my niece had gone missing – again – and frantically searched until I found her contemplating two rather ornate sedan chairs. In a calmer moment later on, she mentioned that the chairs had once been used to carry the statues of the gods around the neighborhood but at that particular moment, some firm persuasion was required to prevent said kid from clambering onto a chair and pretending to be a deity. I hastily bundled her into the main temple and sternly warned her that any further nonsense would only be tolerated if it was approved by the deities inside. We then proceeded to examine the statues in the temple, which she pronounced ‘cool’.
I have to admit, I thought they were cool too. I managed to pick out the statue of the God of Literature, Man Cheong, which was wielding a brush. At this point, some explanation was required as to why it was a brush and not a pen; as in the Monster patiently explained to me why the Chinese wrote with brushes, not pens. On the other hand, the statue of Kwan Yu, God of War, needed no explanation, as he looked appropriately fierce with his red face and brandishing a sword.

Having done some surreptitious reading beforehand, I was able to airily inform my niece that the Kwan Yu’s red face represented loyalty and righteousness and that he was such a popular god that every police station in Hong Kong contained a shrine to him. Unfortunately, there were also other colourful statues ranged about the temple as well, presumably of other gods and goddesses. After repeated questions about all the other images, I had to admit I didn’t know any other amusing anecdotes. This did not impress the Monster very much.

There were dozens of incense sticks burning in pots full of ashes in front of the statues, as well as rather charming bell shaped coils of incense hanging from the rafters. The smell of the incense permeated the temple, and was rather pleasant. I was debating with myself whether it would be improper to light an incense stick myself when, just then, a knot of actual worshippers came forward with lighted incense sticks to pay their respects and we tactfully withdrew.

I had actually brought my camera, planning to take the requisite touristy pictures of the temple and the worshippers, but something held me back. Despite the crowds and almost carnival-like coloring, the noise and overall foreignness of the temple, as I watched the worshippers kneel before the altars and close their eyes in prayer, I felt for a moment a sense of serene calmness and peace.
Moved, I left the camera in its pouch and quietly lead the way out, relinquishing the temple to wafting incense and silent pleas. I think even the Monster felt it too, for she was unusually quiet for a few minutes after we left.

Then, as we headed through the crowded streets to the nearest bus stand, she piped up, “Ok, let’s go shopping!” and darted forward.

I groaned and started chasing after her again.

Book Hong Kong Hotels here

Hong Kong Featured Hotel

Stanford Hotel Hong Kong

Stanford Hotel Hongkong with 194 guest rooms, conveniently located in one of the most colourful and vibrant areas of Kowloon. Wellserved by public transport - a few minutes’ walk to the LadiesMarket and MTR Stations, with access to all parts of KowloonPeninsula, Hong Kong Island, New Territories, Lantau Island andMainland China.


Rates from HKD 600. Find rates for other Hong Kong hotels here.



 

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Things To See & Do - What to do and see
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It's always better to do your homework before you travel so that you can plan ahead and make full use of your time. Read about some of the more exciting destinations in the world at
HolidayCity.com.

 

Hong Kong and the Business of Luck
Leisurely Walk in Seoul
Up Close and Personal in Taipei 101
Once Bitten, Twice In Love with Hong Kong
Going on a Lord of the Rings Tour in Wellington
The City of Sails rides the waves
Bintan & Batam: Indonesia's Secret Islands Getaways
Beyond the Beaches & Temples
Singapore City Centre
Singapore Courtesy Impresses

 

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Travellers' Tips and Advice

Check out what our travellers have to say on the getting around in another travel destination they have visited.
If you are traveling by air at peak times of year, it's worth remembering that many airlines overbook up to 5% as a regular policy. If you allow yourself a couple of days either side of your journey, airlines will often accept 'volunteers' - people who are prepared to slip on to the next available flight when their flight is overcrowded. In return, many airlines will offer you a free upgrade, free use of their lounges, a special cash payment and/or overnight airport hotel stay and/or free meal vouchers. Ask at check-in whether the airline requires any 'volunteers'.
- Mike Hollingsworth, UK

If one or more persons are traveling together bypass the transfers that are offered with packages and get a limo from the airport limo service counters. Then you will be not first on last off the bus and if there are at least 2 of you the price is sometimes cheaper.
- Gail Davis, OZ

Be very careful driving country roads especially at Y intersections. Stay at an old castle out of the main cities - there is much to explore on the grounds and in the surrounding area.
- Donita Simmons, USA

For a free and informative tour of backstreets Cairo (and probably any Egyptian city), grab a random man passing on the street and ask him where to buy cushion covers or the like. Undoubtedly he will have a great aunt/third cousin twice removed/niece’s daughter who owns a cloth shop. No matter what he was doing or where he was going, he will drop all and lead you there, spending half an hour or more taking you through the local market and shopping streets with a running commentary on all the local trades. When you get there, he will of course offer you "special price, my friend, just for you". But beware, pretty female travellers... he will most likely try to buy you for a million camels (more, if you barter), so travel with at least one male who can claim you are his property!
- Liz Brooke, UK

It would be useful to learn a few common phrases in the local language. Strangers open up when they hear people speaking in their local language. This is a simple yet highly effective way to make new friends as well as to make your way around the country.
- Joyce Nesamani Simson, Malaysia
Note all Malaysians and Singaporeans visiting Hong Kong or Guangdong! Do not say 'Ta Pau' when you order a takeaway. The Cantonese phrase is understood to mean exactly that in your home countries through force of long usage but could be offensive to supertitious Chinese in Hong Kong and southern China, because you'd be telling them 'to go wrap up a corpse'.
- Steven Ching, Malaysia

A traveller does not have to be an observer. If you are on your way to Ireland, it is imperative for you to talk to the locals. You will find that your opinions are heard, your company is appreciated, and your ideas will not be overlooked. Sharing a round of drinks with an Irish local will put a smile on your face and remind you that life can be simple and grand. An open heart will always have room for new friends.
- Hilary, USA


If you travel to Indonesia don't forget to say "Terima kasih" for thank you,it means a lot to Indonesians.

English is the "must" language for us, but if you go to Asia learn some of Chinese language will be more useful.
- Luigi Ariawan, Indonesia

After freezing with a 4 hour layover at the La Airport, I vowed I would never travel anywhere again without a sleeping bag and a good book. I bought a sleeping bag that fold in to a 8 inch square which fits neatly into my hand luggage. Layovers? No worries, now I snuggle up in my sleeping bag with my book in comfort!
- Gaylene Temple, OZ

If you travel to a place where shop-owners are very forward and you feel uncomfortable being dragged into every second shop on the street, you must remain friendly, but at the same time also communicate what you are interested in and what not. Don't lead the local shop owner on to believing that you will buy something next time you pass by, that will only make the problem worse. Remember to always be polite as you are in their country.
- Kaare Christensen, Denmark

  Click on the categories below for more travel tips:  

Recommended!

Getting Around

Cultures & Customs

Family Friendly

Medicine & Health

Things to Do

Eating Out

Travel Smart

Packing

Safety Advisory

 

Do you have any tip or anecdote on traveling that you’d like to share with us? If so, write and tell us at garrett@holidaycity.com. If it is interesting, we’ll feature it under our Travel Tips! Just make sure you include your name or pseudonym and which country you’re from!

Other Travel Essentials

Before You Go ... planning & preparations before going on your holiday.

While on Holiday ... what to look out for while being on your holiday.

The Other Side of Travel ... travel anecdotes submitted by our readers.

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