About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

26 April 2017

Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden

Amongst the skyscrapers and hustle of Hong Kong, the Chi Lin Nunnery is a quiet oasis, easily accessible from the city centre. It has some stunning wooden architecture, with amazing attention to detail. In addition to the shrine rooms, there are a few amazing lotus pools, some very large bonsais and quite a large focus on crystal rocks.

Across the road, the Nan Lian garden, is effectively an extension of the nunnery. It includes a number of focused displays, mostly free, including a presentation of timber architecture, pottery and a rock garden, with amazing landscaping.

There is also a stunning vegetarian restaurant behind a stunning water feature (below). The food is very good, although maybe a bit on the expensive side. The restaurant has limited opening times, but highly recommended.

24 April 2017

Breathing Space at the Asia Society

Located next to the British Consulate, the Asia Society, Hong Kong Center is based at an old Royal Military Policy compound. Similar to the British Council, and Goethe Institut, it is an arts and cultural centre showcasing works from across Asia. There are some stunning permanent displays (as well as general architectural features) such as the Buddha and the water ature by the reception.

The centre currently showcases a contemporary art exhibition from Hong Kong focused on living in the city. Like an installation, they range from the obscure and academic to the though provoking and accessible; and the are a few cool tech inspired creations. The installations a across the centre in both outdoor and indoor spaces, some blending in amazingly well with the city itself.

Hong Kong and Kowloon Parks

There are a few free tourist places around Hong Kong, and the two big parks - Hong Kong and Kowloon stand out in terms of their size, the stunning landscaping and some of the freebies - such as the aviaries. 

The landscaping in the Hong Kong aviary is quite impressive, while most of the birds seem to be from the Pacific islands.

There are flamingos at the Kowloon Park!

Both parks have museums also, although we only went in to the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre charting a brief history of Hong Kong in Kowloon Park. Lots of Ming vases around though!

Mahler "Tragic" Symphony

I have seen circular concert halls on YouTube, but today (Saturday) was my first time sitting in one, and specifically behind the orchestra, which also happens to be the cheap seats. Concert tickets, even for the cheap seats were not cheap, but despite this, the hall was almost full. The audience was also quite diverse in terms of age group, with a number of children in attendance.

The concert started with a short 20 minute piece,"swallow harbour", by a young American composer Conrad Tao, in it's debut performance. The notes from the composer mentions that the piece is inspired by the city's jagged skyline - and thus the music is jagged with various short snippets. There isn't really a consistent theme or melody till almost the very end and the performance, to me at least, was not really that pleasant - too experimental and too distorted to make it pleasant and entertaining.

After a short interval, Mahler's 6th Symphony, was the highlight performance. It's the first time I have heard it, and the program notes made it fairly easy to follow the progression. The symphony is said tone Mahler's most personal, inspired by his wife - so it's a bit strange that it explores death and tragedy in its finale; and much of the joyous and passion are wiped out by the finale. 

It was a magnificent performance - and being next to the percussion in this specific performance was a pleasure to watch. The only complaint would be - the sledgehammer in the finale just didn't have the impact described in the notes ... but it still managed to break the box!

22 April 2017

Monte Fort and Macau Museum

Located next to the Ruins of St Paul, Monte Fort is probably the highest point in Macau, and provides some amazing views of the city. The fort was a defensive installation by the portuguese, and canons are jotted around the fort. The top has an amazing garden also - and given the time of the year, lots of flowers!

In a recent renovation, the Macau Musuem was added to the fort - a a great exploration on the combined history of the West and China - starting with a short history summary, trade, construction, science developments and some cultural fusion. It's a great primer on the shared history.

St John's Cathedral

Close to the Peak Tram station in Central, St John's Anglican Cathedral has a few stunning stained glass windows in an otherwise plain and bork interior.

21 April 2017

Ruins of St Paul's

It's possibly Macau's most famous tourist attraction - the remains of the facade for a Jesuit church, on a hill overlooking the ocean. The facade is remarkably well preserved, and highly decorated when compared to other churches, including the cathedral, in the area. After archeological excavations, the crypt and a small gallery exhibiting Christian art and artifacts from the era are also accessible from the church grounds.

Macau Lights

Macau is well known as a gambling destination - the Las Vegas of the East. There are two clusters - a cluster of outlandish reports on the island of Cotai, and a cluster near the harbour on the "mainland". We landed on Cotai, and took the bus to the centre, so we saw the resorts during the day. The older cluster came alive at night, on our way back.

20 April 2017

St Dominic's Church

Just after the Senado Square, St Dominic's is a large Jesuit church with the stand out feature being the altar - showing the Virgin Mary and Jesus carrying his cross below the altar. As with many Jesuit churches, the decor itself is rather ordinary, but the strange altar is interesting ...

Macau Tarts

There are a lot of stalls selling Macau Egg Tarts; but this stall near the St Dominic's Church (on way to the steps) has it for a gat price and great service. Efficient process also - order with the lady, and pick up at the other window.

Ferries to Macau

There is a surprising volume of ferries to Macau - approximately 7 an hour for most of the day (the ferries effectively run a 24 hour operation). Given that each ferry can take about 250 passengers, it's a lot of people! The route itself is about an hour long (on the slower ferry), fairly cheap (approx HKD 350 return) and quite hassle free. There are higher classes of tickets promising more luxury, but I can't work out the value beyond more privacy.

19 April 2017

Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Perched on the edge of Central Pier, the Hing King Maritime Musuem is deceptively small from the outside. Located across three floors, the museum explores Chinese maritime history, the naval roots and history of Hong Kong, and general maritime topics (such as radar, containers, safety, etc). I found the Chinese maritime history most interesting tracing development of saling and marine exploration. There is also a big collection of model ships, ranging from the old to the modern container ships. 

17 April 2017

The Big Buddha

In my last visit to the Big Buddha, the weather was cloudy and cold, and the Buddha was enveloped in the mist. Today was a clear day with fairly good visibility, although not good enough to see beyond the airport.