I was very naïve moving to Hong Kong and basing my pre-travel assumptions on the China I’ve seen on TV. Hong Kong is not what I was expecting which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s busy, it’s noisy and it’s claustrophobic – not quite the Zen experience I had built up in my mind. But it’s busy and noisy because it’s exciting – there’s so much going on it can be difficult to know where to start.
For the last 13 weeks I’ve been waking up in my tiny apartment, walking through the dense streets of Mong Kok, winding through a bleak MTR station, riding in a box underground, walking through a dreary housing estate into my bright, artificially-lit, air-conditioned kindergarten… only to do it all again at the end of the day. 6 times a week. It drives you a little stir crazy and means if you get ill, you stay ill.
In hope of finding a little spirituality and to try and clear my 5 week old bronchitis, I’ve taken a trip to one of my favourite Hong Kong spots so far. Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery.
Sometimes I’m convinced that the residents of Mong Kok are having an ongoing competition to see who can be the noisiest. If the local pack of stray dogs aren’t howling at the moon, there are car alarms, Wilhelm screams and a few times a week my upstairs neighbour decides to drop marbles on his floor at 3 in the morning. Keeping that in mind it was a great relief to find the tranquility of Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery. Surrounded by an overpass and sky high housing estates, it’s the dictionary definition of a juxtaposition. Although only minutes from the Diamond Hill MTR station, you can almost convince yourself you’re not in Hong Kong. It’s green and peaceful, you can hear running water over the sounds of the traffic. You can spend an afternoon just relaxing and watching the fish or treat yourself to dinner in the vegetarian restaurant tucked behind a waterfall – romantic! If you can’t make it out of Hong Kong and need to unwind it’s a great quick fix.
Keep your eyes peeled for events in the gardens and nunnery. I’m looking forward to a concert there later this month.