Our final few days saw a few more sight seeing opportunities - a partic
ular highlight was on our final teaching day, when our friend from the Education Bureau took us to lunch and to visit a local temple near one of the schools. The Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of the most famous shrines in Hong Kong, and is famed for answered prayers. It was, like the one in Macau, very beautiful, and it was extremely interesting to observe some of the Taoist traditions - including fortune telling from broken sticks, and throwing coins onto the back of a tortoise for good luck (an observation process enhanced by the presence of our guide who could offer both cultural and linguistic translations!). We enjoyed the temple's lovely gardens which, like everywhere else in Hong Kong, were nestled between tall buildings and mountain
Our lunch was also extremely interesting in itself. As it was near the temple, many of the visitors like to abstain from meat after visiting the holy site, and so the the restaurant was vegetarian. What was especially impressive though, was the extent to which they managed to imitate meat - our "chicken" and "shark fins" dishes were incredibly similar to the real thing, to the extent we had to double and triple check that we didn't have different understandings of the word 'vegetarian', to be sure Seb could partake! I'm not sure I want to know how they made such meat-like vegetarian dishes, but it tasted pretty good!
I also got to take the time after we had finished teaching to make a final few tourists stops - including Lantau Island's very impressive Big Buddah, offering great views of the Island, and a relaxing afternoon in Chi Lin Nunnery and gardens. Hong Kong is a wonderfully diverse, exciting and beautiful place, and I feel lucky to have got to spend some time exploring it.
The trip has been a great experiences - many thanks to the rest of the delegation, HK Education Bureau, ESU London and ESU HK (with particular thanks to Verner, Gillian and Venni for their excellent welcome).