Hong Kong Mongkok mornings

Argyle Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China - One of the most densely populated areas of the world.
Argyle Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong, China – One of the most densely populated areas of the world.

The streets of Hong Kong Mongkok are a little slow as the sun rises on the east, from the east. Mongkok, the area of Kowloon known for retail deals and entertainment, rise as late as it stays up. The backpackers, huddled in cheap guest houses, get a late start on the day, the karaoke bars and lounges the main culprits. Street cleaners banish the mess left by the merrymakers while newsstands and hole-in-the-wall restaurants wait for the rush that will come as the district wakes.

Mongkok is listed by the Guiness Book of World Records as having the highest population density in the world: An estimated 130,000 people per square kilometer. A walk down Argyle Street or Nathan Road on a balmy summer evening is testament to the record. The streets are a seething sea of bodies, returning home, shopping, or out for a stroll. It’s an experience, one many people, even big city veterans, don’t try twice.

The Mongkok area is home to numerous markets, slaking the commerical thirst of travelers and tourists. The Temple Street Night Market, the Goldfish Market, the Flower Market, and Fa Yuen Street (translated: Sport Shoes Street) all do brisk trade – when they eventually open.

 

Guangzhou China: Bridge over once troubled waters

The bridge in front of the historic Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum.
The bridge in front of the Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum.

Guangzhou China, formerly known as Canton, the capital of Guangdong province, China, was once a hotbed of revolution.  Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, considered the father of modern China, led an uprising in 1911 that became the beginning of the end of the Qing Dynasty.

The Chinese Communist Party captured Guangzhou briefly from the KMT Government (Kuomingtang) during a 1927 revolt. This uprising resulted in the slaughter of 5,000 Communist soldiers and peasants at the hands of the KMT and the disappearance of an estimated 5000 more.

The above bridge sit in front of the Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum, in Guangzhou. This building witnessed the 1911 revolutionaries claim independence, and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen sworn in as the first president of China in 1921. It is part of Martyrs Park, the burial ground of the 5000 killed in the 1927 revolt.

Given the bloodshed it is a peaceful place, massive trees covering the bridge and water.

Guangzhou China at dawn

Guangzhou, China, at dawn

Guangzhou China, Guangdong Province: One of the largest cities in China, and home to kings, rebellion, and martyrs. The city traces its beginnings to 214 BCE, and has been constantly inhabited.

The Pearl River, (Zhu Jiang, 珠江), the runs through Guangzhou, and has brought explorers, traders, and pirates. After the first opium war, Guangzhou was made a treaty port, allowing French and British traders to set up shop.


Hong Kong: Resting places

The Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Chai Wan, Hong Hong

Below Pottinger Peak, with misty Mount Parker in the distance, is The Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, on Hong Kong Island. Cape Collision Road, near Chai Wan, is home to seven cemeteries: Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Sihks, fallen soldiers, and those not buried on consecrated ground, rest within walking distance of each other. Cape Collision Road is also home to two correction institutions.

Heng Fa Chuen, next to Chai Wan on Hong Kong Island’s northeast shore is home to Lei Yun Mun Fort and the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. It was this fort that valiantly tried to stop the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong Island in December 1941. The fort fell on December 19. Many of its defenders are buried at the nearby Sai Wan War Cemetery.

Ayutthaya: Ancients against the sky

For more than 400 years Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. The Burmese army sacked and destroyed the city in the late 1700s. The remnants of the palace and countless wats (Thai temples) sat decaying for two centuries. The locals, who had established a new town a few kilometers away, were afraid of the ruins and the ghosts they held.

Ayutthaya is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ruins form Ayutthaya Historical Park. The ruins make a great day trip from Bangkok and are easily accessible by organized tour or train.

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Shenzhen China: A candle for the goddess

A candle for Tianhou, the Mother of Heaven, and Goddess of the Sea, from a temple in Shenzhen China. While the following information is related to Buddhism, and Tianhou is part of the Taoist pantheon, the symbolism is probably the same:

Candles are a traditional part of Buddhist ritual observances. Along with incense and flowers, candles (or some other type of light source, such as butter lamps) are placed before Buddhist shrines or images of the Buddha as a show of respect. They may also be accompanied by offerings of food and drink. The light of the candles is described as representing the light of the Buddha’s teachings, echoing the metaphor of light used in various Buddhist scriptures.

from: Wikipedia

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Shenzhen: Prayers at the tomb of the boy-king

Prayers for the Last Emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty.

The Mongol army’s conquest was almost complete. China’s Song Dynasty lay in ruins at the hands of the invaders. The imperial court sent the emperor’s brothers, two young princes (and heirs), aged seven and nine, south to Guangdong Province. There, resistance and the dynasty, would continue.

The eldest, Zhao Shi, was declared emperor but became ill and died while holding court in what is now Kowloon (Hong Kong). The younger brother, Zhao Bing, took to the throne.

The Song army was defeated in southern China at the Battle of Yamen in 1279. Rather than let the emperor be taken prisoner, a court official, Lu Xiufu, grabbed the young royal and leapt into the sea.

The body of a child, clothed in the yellow dragon-embroidered robes of the emperor, washed up on the shore of Chiwan, near Shekou (now part of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province). After prayers at the nearby Tian Hou Temple, local people buried the boy on a hillside, facing the sea.

The tomb is a popular place with visitors and was granted historic status by local government officials. Prayers and offerings are left for the boy-king who died rather than surrender.