Monday, July 22, 2013

Hong Kong Vacation - November/December 2012 (Part 2)

November 28 was 齋戒日 (a vegetarian day for me since it was October 15 in Lunar Calendar), my kindergarten girlfriend took me to a special place for sightseeing and eating vegetarian lunch. It was called Chi Lin Nunnery (志蓮淨苑) and its connected park Nan Lian Garden (南蓮園池). One of my aunties wanted to take me there few years ago but it didn’t work out, I’m glad I could finally have a chance to visit this beautiful attraction!

The entrance of Nan Lian Garden (南蓮園池), a very peaceful landscape with lots of greens such as different kinds of Chinese pine trees (松樹).

Nan Lian Garden was a classical Chinese garden constructed in 2003-2006 on the blueprint of Jiangshouju (南蓮園池以山西省新絳縣,隋唐郡府園林絳守居園池為藍本), an elegant landscaped garden in Shanxi province during Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It was also constructed in accordance with the standards from “Record of Governor Wei’s new place in Yongzhou” 永州韋使君新堂記 written by Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元, a famous poet in Tang Dynasty. His suggestion of human-suitable, with environment condition, and maintenance of nature (逸其人, 因其地, 全其天) is found in Nan Lian Garden. In other words, it means the design for a garden should suit the people who uses it, taking into consideration the condition of its environment, making sure that what is man-made is in harmony with the beauty of its nature (逸其人-- 以人為本;因其地-- 因地置宜;全其天-- 保持景物的天然真趣). No wonder all the ponds, waterfalls, rocks, plants and timber structures are arranged perfectly. It is unbelievable to have this comfortable and tranquil garden situated in Diamond Hall, an urban area in Hong Kong.

(I just read an article about Nan Lian Garden from a Chinese magazine and it reminded me that there was some Chinese instrumental music around 古琴音樂 as we walked in the park. The article also mentioned that the view was different as the visitor stepped forward and looked back 步移景轉, 曲徑通幽 which I think maybe similar to chisenkaiyu style garden in Japan 日本的池泉回遊式庭園 with view and perspective changing as people wanders along the path.)

I have no idea what this is called. There are several of them in the garden. Do you know the purpose? My friend told me it’s for rain collection, interesting!

(These are called rain chains or kusari doi in Japanese 鎖樋, and are used to transport rainwater from the roof downwards to a drain or to a storage container for household usage. Thanks Natasha for pointing this out!)

After Nan Lian Garden, we visited temple halls (殿堂區) in Chi Lin Nunnery (志蓮淨苑). I recall there is an outdoor lotus pond in the centre. Here are two of the temples: 大雄殿 (I think is Main Hall with Sakyamuni Buddha) and 觀音殿 (mercy Guanyin Buddha). These elegant wooden temples were rebuilt in 1990s following the style of Tang Dynasty architecture. I felt this peaceful environment gave me calmness and soothed my soul.

There is a vegetarian restaurant where we had lunch. Unlike its nunnery and garden, it was quite noisy … probably because of the vegetarian day in lunar calendar with more customers than normal. Still overall it was a very pleasant and enjoyable experience to walk around in Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery J

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