Hong Kong: A Temple Visit

Scattered throughout Hong Kong are many temples, some huge and well-known (check your guidebooks) and others quite small and neighborly. Most are quite open to visitors, and, in the Chinese tradition, generally tolerant if not welcoming to children.

The place pictured here is a short walk from the Temple Street Night Market area, near the Jorden MTR stop, and so is quite used to visitors. There is a nice park right across the street if you need to rest or the kids need to run around, as well as some less than tidy public toilets.

Etiquette various from temple to temple and time to time, so ask and observe. Some temples reserve times and/or special alcoves for visitors, and usually allow you to take photos freely, while others are more flexible. If no photos are allowed you will usually see a sign, but if in doubt, a smile and gesture with your camera toward the staff will resolve things. To the best of my knowledge, in the parts of Asia I have been too, there is no direct prohibition against photographing the alters or sacred objects. What can be sensitive are photos of people worshipping, so be sure to obtain permission first as we did here or avoid facial images.

Some things of interest in the photos here are the spiral cones of incense. These are aesthetically quite attractive, smell nice and add a smoky aura to the temple. They are usually suspended out of reach, but watch the kids with other incense burning-the tips are red hot and will burn little fingers.

With smaller kids, temples can be trouble in general, as there are lots of shiny things within reach. Crying, shouting and being a kid may disturb worshippers, so exercise judgment. Strollers may not be allowed or a good idea, as the pathways inside can be narrow. Along those same lines, remember that many times worshippers will leave food, drinks and sometimes small toys on the alter as offerings. Your kiddies should obviously not touch, eat, drink or mess with this stuff.

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