Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Peace in the City

I am in Hong Kong for a conference of the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches. The conference begins tonorrow so today has been a day to meet with friends and to explore.

Hong Kong is a busy, crowded, modern city. There is much to see and do but I was intrigued by the description in the guide book of a garden and a nunnery so I bought my Octopus Card, and set out on the MTR (tube) to Diamond Hill station. I had read about a peaceful garden and so I was very surprised to come out of the station onto a very busy interchange with traffic moving in may directions and at many levels. How could there possibly be peace here?

Nan Lian Garden is built in the Tang style, a modern representation of the timber structures and gardens of the Tang dynasty. The garden was designed and built by Chi Lin and opened in 2006. In a limited space the garden contains miniature versions of beautiful natural scenes. There is bird song, music and traffic noise, skyscrapers framed by foliage and temples, waterfalls and tranquil pools.

Visitors are asked to follow a prescribed route around the garden and it was a route full of surprises and unexpected delights. This truly is peace in the city, you are not taken out of the city which is very visibly and audibly the context for the garden. You are taken deep into the sights and sounds of the garden which complement and enrich those of the surrounding streets. Garden and city are as one and this felt like a peaceful heart of both.

The Pavilion Bridge - Nan Lian Garden

Whaer wheel - Nan Lian Garden

Leaving the garden
Next door to Nan Lian Garden is Chi Lin Nunnery, a Buddhist complex originally founded in the 1930s and rebuilt of wood in the 1930s in the Tang Dynasty style. The wood is joined without any nails and the structures represent the harmony of humans with creation. This is a living place of worship and when you enter the Hall of Celestial Kings and the Main Hall you are surrounded by others who are praying at the shrines. It is very evidently a place of prayer and of tranquility in the city. The noise of the traffic is complemented and transfoemed by the chanting of the Buddhists in the Main Hall.

It is (quite naturally) forbidden to take photographs in the Main Hall and Hall of Celestial Kings but these photographs give some idea of this place of peace in the city.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who lived in Hong Kong for 12 years, I visited here many times. It's been a joy to relive it though your eyes.