Thursday, June 19, 2008

China Day 20: What Dad Did

Dad went adventuring alone today once he was convinced that I would really prefer to stay in bed rather than jaunting off on the optional tour to Kowloon and the New Territories, and that I didn't mind if he had fun on his own. (Well, he wasn't really alone, he was with the group. But he didn't have me.) This is what they did:

In Eastern Kowloon, they stopped first at the Bird Market. Birds may be popular pets in the States, but the ones here lead a much more active lifestyle. Like in Xi'an, people here regularly bring their caged birds out for an airing and a day in the parks:
I like that this little fella has decorative porcelain water and food dishes.

Next, they walked through the flower market, where bundle after bundle of cut blossoms waited for someone to take them home:

The third stop - and I'm very sorry I missed it - was the Wong Tai Sin Temple.
This is a Taoist Temple, and I'm bummed to have missed it because of my beloved Judge Dee novels, in particular The Haunted Monastery, whose titular monastery is Taoist.
The temple courtyard was filled with petitioners burning incense
as well as with tourists (fire safety was well in hand)
but the true purpose for many was the practice of Kau Cim, which according to what I've read is a combination between petitionary prayer and divination. You can read about it from the horse's mouth (click for bigger)
but herethe essentials: The worshiper shakes a container of 100 numbered bamboo sticks
and whichever one falls out is their number. They then exchange the stick for a slip of paper with that number which contains a saying relevant to their problem and take it to one of the soothsayers for help interpreting it.
The soothsayers inhabit these little booths inside the temple:
Different soothsayers might interpret the same saying differently, depending on the person's problem or on their own philosophy, or (I suppose) their skill level. Frankie asked that people not visit the fortune tellers lightly: these people take their work seriously and don't need tourists looking for someone to tell them they're going to meet a tall, dark, handsome man. Or something.

By this time it was noonish, so next stop: food! Since Hong Kong is conveniently situated in the middle of the ocean, of course they dined at a seafood restaurant. The restaurant was so close to the ocean it was practically in the water:
Note the glorious weather, by the way, after yesterday's fog! There was also a nice view of fishing boats and sampans much like Aberdeen:
Once they got into the restaurant they found the food was absolutely fresh, in the sense of "still alive". You could stroll along and pick your victims and the restaurant guy in the wellies would collect it for you:
A couple of the more adventurous of us had a close encounter with the Creature from the Lagoon: the largest lobster I've ever seen.
He looks tasty.

After the convivial meal
Dad returned to the hotel to see how his poor baby was doing. I woke up, said "Some better", turned over and went back to sleep.

I am posting this now, but I might have to edit it if Dad comes up with any new or better stories for me. I reserve that right!

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