10000 BUDDHAS AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

Apart from the 30 hours of flight, 20 hours of trade fair, I managed to carve about one day free to explore Hong Kong, a break from staying with Mussolini's granddaughter (not really), my hostess without the mostest from Airbnb. I avoid staying in hotels especially the international ones as there is no point flying half way across the world to see the same lobbies and the same rooms. Instead of heading to the big Buddha statue, I opted for something a little more off the beaten path, the monastery of 10 000 Buddhas. Apparently, it is not advertised as a tourist visit spot for fear of  hordes of tourists destroying the site. My sarcastic side wonders if it has more to do with China's frown upon religion. The trail to the monastery is less than obvious. It is not signposted and one has to literally walk into a parking lot  and alongside a government building to find it. One small and tatty signpost is then visible contrasting against the gold of the statues that pave the 500 steps up.

In the heat and humidity of summer, every step takes a toll and half way through I am soaked, jeans glued to my legs. The statues look at me with a benevolent smile and I keep going. 

Once I reach the plateau, the whole glory of the monastery comes in view. Vibrant reds and yellows, gold embellishments, gigantic statues and of course the main hall where pictures are not allowed, an ornate room housing in little niches small statues of Buddha reaching the sealing from which monks chants are heard. 

I sit taking in the beauty of the surroundings and start to meditate. I lose track of where I am for a while which is wonderfully restoring till a sound brings me out: the lady at the souvenir entrance has decided to put her iPad on and is playing some silly high pitched girlie program. And in one instant I pin down the 2 things that irritate me the most in Hong Kong. Firstly religion. There is no official religion on the island but the real god that the whole population is obsessed with is called iPhone or android, texts and chats and selfies - which makes the simple task of even walking about arduous. Secondly a thorn in my feminist side: the giggling girlie disease. I guess that on an island where women outnumber men by a ration of 2 to 1, dressing like a teenage princess and giggling like one is the last resort in finding a soul mate. Don't get me wrong, I am all for women wearing whatever they wish but out of choice, not out of a norm. Thankfully the day ends with dinner with two kick-ass sisters who built a book empire from scratch in Hong Kong. Good company of female entrepreneurs around a chocolate ice cream on a balmy evening, who could ask for more?

Miss Anne.