Walking Through Kowloon

Street food, Hong Kong (c) A. Harrison
Street food, Hong Kong (c) A. Harrison

Exploring Kowloon

Hong Kong is a Janus, with The Island and Kowloon presenting separate faces to the visitor. These two parts of Hong Kong differ completely in atmosphere. For many Kowloon proves a tourist mecca but, personally, for me it has little appeal; I much prefer the atmosphere and history of The Island.

Yet there parts of Kowloon I find well-worth visiting (not that I ever need an excuse to ride the Star Ferry. I could ride back and forth across that harbour all day; there is always something to see.)

There is always something to see on Hong Kong Harbour - even the boats have eyes! (c) A. Harrison
There is always something to see on Hong Kong Harbour - even the boats have eyes! (c) A. Harrison
Overgrown banyan tree-roots (c) A. Harrison
Overgrown banyan tree-roots (c) A. Harrison
A monk walking the streets of Hong Kong (c) A. Harrison
A monk walking the streets of Hong Kong (c) A. Harrison

Visiting Kowloon Park

Although I have been to Hong Kong many times, this was my first foray into Kowloon Park. Built on the site of an old army encampment, many of the old barrack buildings remain. I have walked past many times, but somehow never taken the time to enter.

I entered off Nathan Road near the Mosque. Immediately I was embraced by a welcoming coolness, a delightful break from the humidity which had blanketed Hong Kong since my arrival. Ponds and running water are everywhere, and already the shady areas were filling up with families come to pass pass their weekend over a picnic.

I lost myself wandering paths at random, past Chinese gardens and into a maze. On one patch of green people of all ages were doing Tai Chi, while in another corners others were warming up for their martial arts class, swords lying on the grass. (Free displays are given every Sunday afternoon.) I found an aviary which included birds from the Amazon, including a colourful macaw and a strange-looking hornbill. The sound of falling water from the numerous fountains fills the air. For the athletic there are two Olympic-size pools; for the artistic a sculpture garden, and for the young at heart there is even a pond with flamingos.

Best of all, there is not a hawker in sight. The chaos of Nathan Road, (where at times I feel not a jury in the world would convict me for murder should another cheap watch be thrust in my face) seems far away, and my soul recovered.

Access: Walk up Nathan Road from the Star Ferry, or else catch the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui

Kowloon : A Walking Tour

show route and directions
A markerKowloon Park -
Kowloon Park, 22 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
[get directions]

B markerChi Lin Nunnery, Diamond Hill -
Chi Lin Nunnery, 5 Chi Lin Drive, Sheung Yuen Leng, Hong Kong
[get directions]

C markerBird Market -
Yuen Po Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
[get directions]

D markerGoldfish Market -
Goldfish Market, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
[get directions]

E markerFa Yuen Street Market -
Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
[get directions]

The Chi Lin Nunnery, Kowloon (c) A. Harrison
The Chi Lin Nunnery, Kowloon (c) A. Harrison
A corner of the Nunnery (c) A. Harrison
A corner of the Nunnery (c) A. Harrison
Directions from the MTR are easy to follow (c) A. Harrison
Directions from the MTR are easy to follow (c) A. Harrison
High rise appartmetns now encroach upon the Chi Lin Nunnery (c) A. Harrison
High rise appartmetns now encroach upon the Chi Lin Nunnery (c) A. Harrison

The Chi Lin Nunnery, Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill once sat on the outskirts of the city, but The Buddhist Chi Lin Nunnery now offers an oasis of calm amongst the traffic and high-rises. It is a short walk from Diamond Hill MTR (indeed, there was more walking in the MTR itself, but I always love the long escalators which seem to go forever). Signposts and maps clearly mark the way.

The Nunnery began in the 1930s as a religious and community centre, then was rebuilt in the late 1990s in the style of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Yellow cedar was imported from Canada, and modern artisans used ancient techniques to build the temple. Not a single nail was used in the construction, the wood instead put together in the manner of a giant jigsaw. The elegant double-eaved Hall of the Celestial King is reminiscent of Japan, for it was designed after the 11th C Phoenix Hall in Kyoto.

Despite the arrival of a busload of tourists, the courtyard and buildings remained tranquil (and were soon empty, the busload just as quickly vanishing). The entrance is through a large gate into a central courtyard, which is enclosed by a cloister. These in turn open into separate prayer rooms, where in one a buddhist nun knelt chanting. On the floor below is a great souvenir shop, which sells books, stationary, eclectic jewellery and even citrus peel made by the nuns.

Across the road is Nan Lian Garden, which used China's Jiangshouju Garden, the only surviving original Tang Dynasty garden, as a blueprint. Connected by a walkway to the Nunnery, the surrounding hills are used as 'borrowed scenery', along with water features, ornamental rocks and buildings. There is even a hall filled with rocks for contemplation.

The Chi Lin Nunnery proves that quiet spots do exist in Hong Kong, and the gardens are a perfect spot to sit and read for a while.

Access: After visiting Kowloon Park, continue on the MTR to Diamond Hill and follow the signs

Everything is for sale (c) A. Harrison
Everything is for sale (c) A. Harrison

The Literary Traveller

Noble House (James Clavell's Asian Saga)
Noble House (James Clavell's Asian Saga)

Hong Kong, 1963; part of Clavell's Asia saga.

 

The Bird Markets, Kowloon

A short walk from Prince Edward MTR is the Yuen Po Street, which translates as Vegetable Patch Street. Pass through a moon gate and into a series of Chinese courtyards, where the Bird Market was moved about a decade ago. Although some of the charm has been lost, all manner of song fills the air from these amazing birds.

Songbirds are highly prized in China, and can often been seen outside appartments and shops. Stalls are everywhere, selling not only the birds themselves, but wooden cages, small porcelin bowls, and all manner of bird food (including live crickets and worms). Some people even bring their birds for a visit, and can be seen sitting on the benches or enjoying a glass of Chinese tea in a café in the surrounding streets, their cages beside them.

Access: catch the MTR from Diamond Hill to Prince Edward St.


Flowers for sale, Flower Market, Kowloon (c) A. Harrison
Flowers for sale, Flower Market, Kowloon (c) A. Harrison

Exploring the Goldfish and Flower Markets, Kowloon

A street away from the Bird Market, Flower Market Road is filled with shops opening straight onto the street. The aroma is amazing. Every type of bloom imaginable is for sale, along with boxes and boxes of bulbs which looked remarkably like sprouting turnips. It is one of the few places in Hong Kong that I ever hear bees.

Nearby, on Tung Choi St, is the Goldfish Market. Aquariums are associated with good luck, and everything needed for one can be found here – including beautiful fish. Other types of pets are also for sale. Simply wandering these streets are a delight.

Access: catch the MTR from Diamond Hill to Prince Edward St.

The wet market, Fa Yuen St Market, Kowloon (c) A. Harrison
The wet market, Fa Yuen St Market, Kowloon (c) A. Harrison

Fa Yeun Street Market

A five minute walk away from the bird and flower markets is the Fa Yeun Street Market, a small market where it seems everything is for sale. With far fewer tourists coming here than the more famous Night Markets, it is not crowded, you’re not harassed as you shop – plus it has the advantage of being open form 9am.

Like Temple Street and The Ladies Market, there is a plethora of cheap clothes, t-shits, electronics, jewellery and whatever else is currently in fashion. Cheap shops line the street behind the stalls and are well worth a visit. As the street progresses the markets morph into a lively wet market, with a choice of surrounding restaurants filled with locals: perfect after a day of sight-seeing.

Access: catch the MTR from Diamond Hill to Prince Edward St.

A quiet moment in Hong Kong (c) A. Harrison
A quiet moment in Hong Kong (c) A. Harrison
I never tire of Hong Kong Harbour (c) A. Harrison
I never tire of Hong Kong Harbour (c) A. Harrison

Unusual Hong Kong

With a full belly, fortunately it’s just a short stroll back to Prince Edward MTR, (or Mong Kok MTR, if you have walked the length of the wet markets) and so onto another adventure – or a well deserved siesta.

A quick snooze on the Star Ferry as it crosses the harbour is often enough to refresh. There is always be something different in Hong Kong begging to be to explored.

© 2015 Anne Harrison

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8 comments

Jicotea Kinsella profile image

Jicotea Kinsella 20 months ago from Jacksonville, FL

Great pictures of HK!


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 20 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Jicotea,

I'm glad you like them,

Anne


tony.abacab profile image

tony.abacab 20 months ago from UK

A very interesting insight on Kowloon. I too have travel to Hong Kong on many occasions, but also tend to avoid venturing into KW but as is the case in this fascinating city, there is always something of interest to explore.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 20 months ago from Australia Author

No matter how often you visit a place, there is always something interesting to find - a walk, a piece of history, a slice of everyday life so different to our own. Thanks for taking the time to read my hub,

Anne


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 20 months ago from Massachusetts

Hi Anne. We have never ventured to Hong Kong. It certainly looks interesting. Kowloon looks like a great place to walk and discover. Great job.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 20 months ago from Australia Author

I hope you make it there some day. Mt dad used to wotk there, so i have been many times; yet always something new to discover!


Susan Hambidge profile image

Susan Hambidge 19 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

You paint a great picture with your descriptions - and the photos are really good too. So different from anything in Europe.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 19 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Susan, every country is different, but Asia is truly a different world. I hope you make it there one say

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