Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Leslee/Tamara Antiques Extravaganza

So last weekend when I was kinda forced out of my apartment by floor refinishing fumes, I got an early start and headed across the street to Starbucks to plan my day. Looking over my hiking book, I selected the "High West" hike, which is a 3-hour hike up through Victoria Peak. I also spotted a mini-hike that started off in the same area but would bring me to the Man Mo Temple. So I figured I would detour to the Temple, take some pictures and then make my way back to begin the High West hike.

Got off the MTR at Central and started looking around for the Mid-Levels Escalators, which is where I needed to start.  Walked in the wrong direction for about a mile when I decided I should probably turn around. Found a lot of nice people whom I asked to point me towards the Escalator, and they nodded and said hello to me. They had no idea what I was asking. Discovered a lot of cool things while I was lost: outdoor markets of Sheung Wan, huge mall at the International Finance Centre (IFC), and a few more Starbucks'.  Finally, after wandering around for approximately an hour, I found a police officer/security guard outside the IFC and I asked him where the Escalators were. Hooray! He understood me and also knew which direction to point me. Of course, they were hidden close by in yet another tall building.

I got on the Escalators and proceeded to make my way up, up, up through Soho.

Scene from the Mid-Levels Escalators (well, one of them)

I got off the Escalator at Staunton Street and wandered around looking at all the shops and restaurants, making my way to the Temple. Of course, the only way to the Temple was to climb and descend steps (but I did see some Hong Kong kitties along the way)!

Steps leading up (and down) to the Man Mo Temple

As soon as I walked into the Temple, I was hit hard with the smells of burning incense. The smell was so strong and the smoke was so thick, I felt I was in an alternate-reality version of a Buddhist night club (without the disco music, of course). I looked up, and sure enough, there were cones and cones of incense hanging from the ceiling, like thousands of sleeping bats in a cave. And they were all burning!

You can see the smoke in this picture of incense cones burning in the Temple

The Man Mo Temple is so named for two deities, Man (God of literature) and Mo (God of war), who represent a mix of Taoism and Buddhism. After wandering through the temple and almost coughing up a lung from the incense, I decided to walk down some more steps outside before heading back to begin my big hike. Let me tell you now that I never made it to High West that day. I had hit pay dirt in the form of the antiques district right off of Hollywood Road! Antique shops and street vendors galore! This is the Tamara/Leslee part of the hike, because when I was browsing through the shops, I instantly thought of them and how much they would enjoy experiencing this. I bargained and picked up a few things from the street vendors (but even though there were many, many items with Chairman Mao adorning them, I did not get those). I will definitely have to go back there before going home to the States.

Picture does not do it justice, but here is Cat Street in the Antiques District

With my bag full of some heavy items, I saw the climb ahead of me, sighed a bit, and then went on to my next adventure . . . The Peak.

Back up the stairs to walk some more

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