I’d worked 8 days on the trot and was feeling pretty tired at the 5am feed (I know, parents do it all the time without a day off, but this is my work). The housekeeper had had a day off the day before and I saw her at 5pm. “What did you do?” I asked her. “I slept allllll day,” was her smiling reply and I must admit, at that 5am feed, that thought was crossing my mind too! Luckily for me I’m a morning person, so, once I had passed over the Small One at 8am, I felt ready and raring to get going.
I had wanted to go up to the Peak, but the day was a foggy, humid kind of day, with the promise of a rainstorm, so I decided to do a bit of history and visit a few temples in the Central region.
After grabbing a coffee at the station I walked to the escalator that takes you from Central up to the Mid Levels. This makes me laugh. Every single person is looking down on their phone! Seriously. I was forever having to skirt around people who weren’t walking in a straight line, just because they were constantly in the head down position.
Anyway, whilst hitching a ride to the Mid Levels I spotted a spa place and on a whim, jumped off the escalator and back tracked to get in a pedicure. Bliss! Especially with the foot massage. Might be too rough for some peeps, but I loved it. Whilst there I planned my route to my next stop. I was heading to Man Mo Temple, one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples built in 1847. It’s a temple that’s dedicated to the god of literature (‘Man’) and the god of war (‘Mo’).
It’s quite strange seeing this temple surrounded by soaring tower blocks; I was kind of expecting it to at least have a calming green lawn around it, but no. Outside are four gilt plaques. Two describe the gods being worshipped inside, one requests silence and a show of respect and the last warns menstruating women to keep out of the main hall 😉
Once you enter, you step into a large, smoky room. This is from the large incense coils suspended from the roof which are burned as offerings by worshippers. People come to the temples to pray for success in exams or to settle disputes. I saw a huge variety of people. Besides the steady flow of tourists, there were people from all walks of life and different ages. A father in a business suit along with his son in a school uniform, bought some incense and said their prayers.
After this temple, I carried along Hollywood Road to view four more temples. Pak Sing Ancestral Hall, where the Chinese used to store corpses awaiting burial in China.
Kwun Yum Temple (the goddess of mercy). Palace of Moon and Water Kwun Yum Temple (this is Kwun Yum of a Thousand Arms) and Tai Sui Temple, featuring statuettes of the 12 different Chinese zodiac animals. All were pretty much on the same visual themes as Man Mo, with the coils of incense burning overhead.
By now I was ready for lunch and my next stop was back into Central to go to the Luk Yu Tea House. This is a teahouse known for its cooking and Eastern art-deco decor. I was eager to have some dim sum, so off I trotted back the way I had come.
The sky was starting to get darker and I felt the first couple of drops of rain. Hey, I’m British, I can deal with the rain, thinks I and then the heavens opened. A serious downpour. I tried to scamper along, ducking in and out of shop doorways, but had to stop when it got seriously heavy,
It finally seemed to slow enough for me to move along a bit, once again ducking in and out of shop doorways, but then it got too much for me to handle. It was proper tropical rain. My feet, covered only in flip flops, were completely warm with the muddy water running over them (so much for that pedicure, eh?). I was sheltering in the doorway of a bric-a-brac shop and saw they had umberellas, so decided to get one. I had a beautiful one given to me many moons ago, which I loved, which was also from these parts. Long story short, it got swiped, so I’m on the lookout for a replacement.
Now armed with an umberella I was finally able to complete my journey to the Luk Yu Teahouse.
I entered the first floor. White tablecloths and smart waiters were my first impression, before a smiling waiter came up to me with a finger pointed in the air. I agreed, table for one. (It sounds so lonely, but in fact, I love eating on my own). No room on this floor, he gestures upstairs. Up I go to the next floor. Table for one? Nope, upstairs I go again to the top. Yes, they had a table. I was ushered to a corner, where a small soup bowl and spoon, chopsticks, toothpick and a small cup adorned the table. The waiter then presented me with a list (in English) of all the dim sum choices. Green tea was poured as I looked down the list. Rather handily, they also brought over a card that had 9 different pictures of recommended dim sum. I chose spring rolls, a kind of bread with meat dish, some pork dumplings and a bone broth with dumplings and veggies. Soooo good!
Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition of tea drinking, which has its roots in the travellers on the Silk Road. Needing a place to rest, teahouses were established along the roadside. In the third century, an imperial physician wrote that combining tea with food would lead to excessive weight gain (even then!) People later discovered that tea can aid digestion so teahouses began to add snacks.
All tasted fab and I especially liked the bread style one. Served in the steamer basket, it was a ball of soft white bread. When I opened it, I found the most delicious meat that tasted as though it had been cooked in a casserole. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it was called.
I made my plans for the afternoon excursion, sipping the greeen tea and having the waiters top me up. My plan was to jump on the Star Ferry and cross the water to Kowloon.