Sik Sik Yuen Temple – a busy Hong Kong place of worship

I think the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin temple (to give it its full name) is probably the busiest temple I’ve been to in Hong Kong. I’ve been a few times now and it’s always been bustling with people – some are tourists but many come to pray and have their fortunes told.

To get to the temple, go to Wong Tai Sin MTR station and leave by exit B2 or B3 and it’s right next to you – you can’t miss it. Very simple!

The temple isn’t actually very old, about 40 years, and it’s a mix of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian. It’s a complex of several shrines and worship areas, which all mean different things, but I’m afraid I don’t know much about it to be able to explain it to you! This is the main area where people go to pray, present incense to the shrine, or tell their fortune by shaking sticks out of a tin (the sticks have inscriptions on and the ones that fall out will tell you something about your future). Next to this area are also a large number of fortune telling booths.

Sik Sik Yuen temple 1

And here is me in front of the entrance to the main worship area! (a Chinese tourist insisted on taking my photo for me!) Obviously, this was pre-pregnancy ;)

Sik Sik Yuen temple 2

In front of where the above photo was taken are some quite interesting statues representing the Chinese zodiac:

Sik Sik Yuen temple 3

And here are some other views around the temple:

Sik Sik Yuen temple 4

Sik Sik Yuen temple 5

Sik Sik Yuen temple 6

Sik Sik Yuen temple 7

I quite liked this hexagonal building!

At the back of the temple complex is the Good Wish garden, which is generally pretty quiet. It’s not the finest example of a Chinese style garden I’ve seen in Hong Kong (I think the Kowloon Walled City Park is my favourite) but it’s a nice place to sit for a bit. There’s an honesty box which asks you to donate HK$2 (approx. ¬£0.20) if you go in the garden.

Sik Sik Yuen temple 8

Sik Sik Yuen temple 9

I’d recommend a visit to the temple if you’re not familiar with temples of this type and want to see one ‘in action’. It’s an interesting place to visit!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway for a couple of hours in Hong Kong, then I’d recommend the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery, which are right next to each other. They are also very easy to find – leave Diamond Hill MTR station by exit C1, turn left and walk round the corner (to the left). Cross the road and you are at the entrance to the gardens.

Both the gardens and nunnery were built very recently (there isn’t much in Hong Kong that is old!), but in a traditional style which is very attractive. The gardens have a recommended route which you are directed to walk round and you are not allowed to eat or drink (or presumably have any fun!).

One of the first things you come across in the gardens is a building housing a number of scale models of wooden structures from around China which are made without the use of any fixings such as nails (both the models and the original buildings). In fact, the Chi Lin Nunnery is made like this.

Other highlights from around the gardens include a banyan tree grove with tables and benches (a nice place to sit and chat or read a book):

Nan Lian Gardens banyan trees

There is also a tea house where you can learn about Chinese tea and have some tea ceremoniously made up for you, which is a lovely traditional pastime although the tea house is a little expensive. The tea house is housed in this long, low building:

Nan Lian Gardens tea house

There are also lots of structures, such as this bright pagoda in the middle of a pond:

Nan Lian Gardens pagoda…and other traditional style structures…

Nan Lian Gardens bridge

If you have been following the path marked for you, you will finish by the viewing platform, which has a nice view over the park.

Nan Lian gardens

Continuing along the viewing platform (so that you are walking away from the park) takes you over a bridge right to the entrance of the Chi Lin Nunnery, which is just across the road. If you don’t want to go over the bridge, there is an exit from the park by the viewing platform, which takes you to the road – simply cross the road and you are outside the nunnery.

Whilst you may spend an hour or so in the Nan Lian Gardens, you will probably spend significantly less time in the Chi Lin Nunnery as it isn’t very big (but you may wish to spend longer worshipping at the Buddhist shrines). The pictures below show the first main courtyard where you can admire the beautiful wooden structure and look at the lily ponds. However, you must not sit on the walls or steps – you will be moved on pretty quickly! There are a few chairs around the edge of the courtyard if you desperately need to sit for a bit.

Chi Lin Nunnery

Chi Lin Nunnery lily ponds

Chi Lin Nunnery 2

Continue straight on to reach the second courtyard which has a number of shrines around the edge. I didn’t take any photos in this area as I didn’t wish to cause offence. Each shrine is dedicated to a different Buddha and has an accompanying explanation.

The Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery are beautiful examples of traditional Chinese style architecture, although they are very new and pristine so some people don’t like them. I’ve visited them a couple of times now and always found it to be a very relaxing and interesting experience.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel