Sunday, November 28, 2010

七龍 - New Territories part 1: Sha Tin, Tai Po

-- 7 --

Sha Tin, New Territories

Out here, you really need to write directions from the station. I have a bunch of things to see and, it appears, insufficient information to find them. A little hiking's not going to be fatal, though, and I'm pretty sure I've got time before these attractions even open.

My hotel provides paper slippers with the room. As they are too small for my Fomorian feets, they have been useless -- until being juryrigged as additional insoles. We'll see over today how good or dumb this idea is; it seems to be helping so far.

528. HomeSquare building in Sha Tin.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

529. Ancestor worship hall, before I figured out I was headed for the temple.

530. Sign at the start of the path. The way up starts behind the government offices in a way that is not well marked for, nearly on the level of "disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'".

531. First of the trail.

532. More of the path up.

533. D.R. Cha probably didn't pose for this, but doesn't it look like him?

534. Indian and Chinese arhats.

535. Another look up the path. This is a relatively steep quarter-mile of switchbacks, but the temple and the statues on the way make it worth it.

536. Dude is NOT pleased.

537. Buddha and serial. The statues are numbered, but not serially relative to their positions on the path, as a much later pic will show.

538. It just keeps going up.

539. Warning sign at a turnout. There was another sign warning visitors about feeding or approaching monkeys, but I neither saw nor heard any here.

540. The long slope up, dappled in shadow.

541. Religion of peace? Everyone link to this image with those words, and we can trollinate both the US right-wing's favorite Islamophobe meme and Islamic PR efforts.

542. A gathering of saints.

543. Closer view of that assembly.

544. Serial number on the back.

545. A look out over the hillside.

546. Up to the side of the main temple.

547. Guanyin statues on one of the last rises. Also: WYSI,YWSB.

548. Sculptures of heroes sit on a wall.

549. Across to the pagoda.

550. Down into the valley towards the town.

551. Dan Seagrave tries his hand at religious sculpture.

552. Seated, holding the ba gua.

553. Up to the upper temple area.

554. Out from the top level.

555. Rank of Guanyins at the top.

556. Ceremonial gate.

557. Maintenance area. These statues don't stay golden by magic.

558. Statues and bamboo forest.

559. Pagoda and temple grounds.

560. Banyan and stone wall on the slope.

561. Inside the temple. Each point of light is a LED at the seat of an individual golden sculpture of the Gautama Buddha. These are the ten thousand -- all those guys and gals outside are extra, bringing the total number of sculptures of various Buddhas here to somewhere around 12,500.

562. Temple grounds.

563. Zodiac animals along the temple rail.

564. Center pavilion and pagoda, atrociously backlit.

No idea if anything facing eastish came out at the time; I could barely see the outlines of what I was shooting on the camera screen.

565. Pavilion, closer, still backlit.

566. Pavilion with side light, finally.

567. Hundred-armed Buddha and off into the valley.

568. Temple front.

569. Guanyin under the pavilion.

570. Lotus pond detail.

571. Sitting Buddha and lotus.

572. Elephant and kirin on the temple rail; someone had a good idea and didn't check if there were going to be more than twelve posts.

573. Out into the town.

574. The hills are alive...with the sound of earthmovers?

Trees from this clearance were in danger of falling on the path as I went down, so I had to keep a weather eye out.

575. Pines and a view into town over the statues.

576. A more traditional composition, of the lone pine coming out of the slope.

577. Non-consecutive serials.

578. Buddhas and the slope.

579. Statues, forest, and the municipal offices.

580. Smoke catches the light at the end of the trail.

581. Another view of the HomeSquare building and government offices.

It's barely 11; if I can find the Heritage Museum, I'll do that. If not, on to Tai Po.

Sha Tin Park

582. Highrises and mountains.

583. Bridge over the river.

584. Sculpture in the council courtyard.

585. You can tell it's a New Town by the ugly brick Brutalist buildings.

Sha Tin is a planned settlement roughly contemporaneous with the British New Towns in the home isles. I've never been to Milton Keynes, but I have been to Government Center, so I know Brutalist urban-renewal government spaces when I see them. This council complex is really bad even for government Brutalism from this era; fortunately, the rest of Sha Tin is a lot better.

586. Rural Hong Kong: palms, highrises, mountains, sky, shot up from the park.

587. Friendly trash can, Sha Tin Park.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

After a longer than necessary hike on an abraded Achilles from yesterday, I got to the Heritage Museum. It is big and awesome, but I'm hurting for food and hydration, and pretty sure that breaking the New Territories tourpoints into two days was the right thing to do.

588. Cantonese opera playbills.

589. Bamboo-shed stage.

590. Famous open-air stage, kind of the Apollo of Cantonese opera.

591. Slate for 590.

592. Monetary plaque awarded to a '30s-era star by fans in the US.

593. Model of the erection of a temporary bamboo-shed theater.

594. Opera instruments. Note the alto sax mid-frame; Cantonese opera doesn't shy away in terms of incorporating new elements in order to stay relevant.

595. Headgear for different roles.

596. Opera sword. The blade is mirrored, and the rings driven through the back edge are to accent the sound as it swings.

597. An early example of the 'cash fan'. Not invented in Jersey after all. :(

598. Opera costumes.

599. Neolithic stone tools from sites in the New Territories.

600. Barge and trading vessel cutaways.

601. Old fishing village street.

602. Ancestor effigies, before literacy improved enough that poor families could use wooden name tablets.

603. Hakka temple exterior.

604. Interior of the temple.

605. Traditional Hakka costume.

606. Painting on the interior door of the temple. No idea how I braced this one this well, this was wicked dark live.

607. Old colonial arms; removed from the government offices in Central after the handover, and donated here.

608. Small original engine from the Kowloon-Canton railway, predecessor of the MTR-administered regional train I used to get out here.

Onward! Finish museum, eat lunch, on to Tai Po by 1400!

609. The problems of suburban expansion are universal. It is a testament to human arrogance that we developed a science of urban planning before bothering to find out fucking cities, how do they work, for real.

610. Handover ceremony program and commemorative goods.

611. Current and future projects.

612. Wicked meta; in the flaneur exhibit, taking pictures of pictures taken the way I take pictures.

613. Dark Tranquillity album art crossinfluences.

After this, I got told to stop shooting. There's a lot in this museum that you're not allowed to take pictures of; haul yourself out on your own and look at it.

614. Staircase by the entrance.

615. Looking out the window. This isn't that flaneur shit, because the observer has gotten himself into the photo by mistake.

One more gallery, and I can go refuel.

616. Tibetan objets d'art in the T.T. Tsui collection.

617. Pottery animals.

618 - 620. Seated general; pick 'em as to which came out. None of them really did, but I had to keep something of this display.

621. Glazed horse sculpture, Tang Dynasty.

622. Ming plates.

623. A side of Ming pottery not seen as often, but in a presentation like this, just as cool.

DONE! Need food badly!

624. Van Lum bronzes on the way out.

625. Art arrows part 2: bike underpass by Sha Tin Park.

626. Mountains across the river.

627. Bridge and New Town architecture.

628. Bleeding Cowboy on a Christmas ad. Use this as a visual aid when pointing and laughing at metalcore bands.

Tai Po

My feets are killing me, and I'm about to follow a small and late breakfast with a small and late lunch. If I hadn't taken that off day Tuesday, I'd be looking to go home and nerd out in Sino Comic. As it is, gotta press on. Man up, Man Mo, head home.

629. Whatever helps push adoption; the parking garage under the Cooked Food Center only accepts Octopus.

630. Yes, this counts as rural in HK.

631. Back of the Man Mo temple. A little underwhelming after the 10,000 Buddhas this morning.

632. Fresh market in the alley alongside the temple. A can't-miss attraction in Edwardian days, the temple has now been swallowed up by the city.

633. Temple amid the buildings.

634. Through the doors into the temple.

635. Up above opposite; bone-white highrises and brilliant-blue sky.

636. Out through the gate; that's fresh pork hanging in the open air.

Americans and other people who eat meat, but don't know where it comes from may be disturbed by the above and some of the following images. However, such people should be reminded that there's a reason that fire-based cooking took off everywhere: it really cuts down on poisoning from contaminated groceries. As long as you COOK your goddamn pig parts, it doesn't much matter how may flies take a breather on them.

And vegetarians, before you get all sanctimonious, remember that if those yummy-looking veggies in #632 have been grown using traditional sustainable agriculture, then they have been fertilized primarily with human poops. This is why there's no such thing as raw vegetables in Chinese cuisine.

637. Live turtles in the wet market.

638. And some crabs and frogs. Crabs aint working too hard, though.

639. Highrise over the shopping street.

640. Awesome view down an alley.

641. Low overhead clearance on the back steps at Tai Wo. Most of HK, I'm ok, but here and quite a few places in Macau, it was more than a little tight.

The rail back was ok, though it's good I don't have much strenuous lined up over the rest of the trip. (One or two points in west NT, then Star Ferry's harbor tour, and I'm done.) I need the rest to do that early leg Monday to get out. Off at YMT, up Portland to the cutlery shop, last souvenir and meat knife getto. All set.

I then tried to check out this Sino Comic I'd seen advertised on the wall of the building; right idea, wrong time. All of the third (numbers 1xx) and most of the fourth (2xx) levels (on the fourth, everything not devoted to live-action porn) of the Sino Center building on Nathan across from my hotel are devoted to animu junk. Unfortunately, it seems the scene's passed me by; I saw a few interesting things, like the complete Kindaichi manga in a store that did not appear to have an entrance, and a 4-set of SD K-On! figures that I couldn't pull out of the wall of boxes they were in, but most of it, no interest. (Is this a positive?) I had to settle for H-Zone #15 at the convenience store; if you're gonna drop $30 on animu pr0nz, it might as well come with 16 centerfolds and a double-sided 8x10 pencilboard. Just saying.

Plan is rest, beers, and a late dinner; there is hiking tomorrow and I don't want to cut short due to resting up to go home.

642. Guinness Foreign Extra, a 6.8% brewed for export. Why don't we have this at home? Screw the cap, I'm taking the whole bottle home to bring in to Kitty's and yell at them till they get a tap open.

This was, of course, written overseas. No sooner do I get home and replenish my empty fridge than I see a four-pack of smaller bottles of this beer sitting on the counter of the packie next to my building. So we do have it, but not in big-people bottles.

643. It's like Coors Light's mountains, but for people who can, y'know, read words.

644. ((not germane))

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