Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wong Tai Sin, Ebe's Home, Big Buddha

Day 44 & 45

My family, particularly my maternal grandmother, are practicing Buddhists who believe in Chinese superstitions and fortune telling. Growing up, I've often seen my grandma, parents, and family members participate in Buddhist practices pertaining to fortune telling and prayer. One of my goals in studying abroad is to dig into my roots and also to find myself. I figured the Buddhist Temple would be a place to start.

On Friday, Ebe and I went to Wong Tai Sin, a station away from Choi Hung, to visit the Wong Tai Sin Temple. People come especially to Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong to do Kau Chim - a Buddhist practice of fortune telling. In this practice, you silently whisper a question to a deity, kneel in front, and shake the cim bucket - a long cylindrical bamboo cup or tube filled with kau cim sticks. You shake the cim bucket until only a single stick falls out of the cim bucket, one stick per question. If multiple sticks fall out, the shaking proceedure will need to be repeated. The single stick will have a number on it which will correspond to an answer on a piece of paper. The paper has ancient Chinese poems and stories on them which may need to be interpretted by a Temple Priest. Although I've often saw my family members do kau cim, I have never done it myself. This was my first time doing kau cim and it was an interesting experience. To truly believe in your reading one must have immense faith in the Buddhist deity which I have yet to determine if that lies within me.

After Wong Tai Sin, Ebe and I headed over to her flat to have a local Hong Kong dinner. There were so many different dishes that were semi-familiar to me. We had Chicken wings soaked in soy sauce, cabbage in peanut sauce, beef with green pepper, mushroom in tomato sauce, and papaya soup. It was wonderfully prepared by Ebe's Indonesian maid. I found out that most middle class Hong Kong residents often have maids from Indonesia, Malaysia, or Philippines.

Me and Ebe in her flat

The following day, I met up with Felicia and Janice at Tung Chung to visit the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. You have to take a 25 minute cable car ride up the mountain and recently they started offering a glass bottom cable car so you can have a "360 experience". Needless to say, it scared the bajeezes out of me. The scenary was really beautiful though.

"Everyone knows I'm in over my head, over my head"

So scary!! Glass bottom..

First Glimpse of the Big Buddha. (Is it bad that when I think of Big Buddah I like to say it over in the tune of "Big Booty"? I hope Buddha has a good sense of humor)

Ngong Ping is a village within Lantau Island which sells many cute tourist items.

Ngong Ping!

Beautiful day with two of my favorite girls :)


It took 300 steps for us to get all the way to Big Buddha, an act definitely deserving of ice cream. Ice cream was my main motivator to get to the top but once I got up there, the view was so beautiful I had forgotten all about it.

Me and Felicia with Big Buddha

Below the Big Buddha, there is a monestary where you can also do kau cim. Felicia, Janice, and I decided to participated in kau cim which for me was a second time (such a spiritual weekend!). I really loved our visit to Big Buddha, it was relaxing, nostalgic, and unrushed. In the middle of the day, the monks at the monestary started chanting in Chinese poetry and it reminded me of all the times we waited for my grandma as she participated in these chants. She's an active member of the temple and the smell of incense is one I grew to love and associate with relaxation and spirituality. We had a lot of time to linger, look around, and engulf ourselves in the breathtaking scenary.

Po Lin Monestary

Sun setting as we left Lantau Island


Tai said...

Excellent blog Erica. We truly enjoyed the pictorial description of your visit to the temple & Big Buddha. Uncle Tai found his faith here at Wong Tai Sin Temple... he said this is where he started praying for Isabella. The pictures were great !!! Keep the blogs coming cause we truly enjoy your adventures in Asia. Have you seen the congregation of maids on Sundays primarily in Hong Kong Island? We were so stunned when we experience this (it's the only day that they are off from work). Oh, by the way, are you studying hard?

Erica said...

thank you!! oh wow, I had no idea Uncle Tai had such a connection with Wong Tai Sin. I don't think I've seen the congregation of maids..

but yes, I am studying too!! :)