Wednesday, 18 February 2015

My Visit to Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery

Snuggled comfortably against the cacophony of modern sights and sounds of Diamond Hill is the Nan Lian Garden. I consider it my own secret garden and I usually come here to seek refuge as whenever I need to get respite from my demanding work and the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city life in general.
In terms Design and Architecture, Tang dynasty is one of my favourite periods - being here always gives me the surreal feeling of being transported back in that time. I could easily picture those beautiful “plump” Tang ladies walking around in this gardens. Their ample bodies would be draped in high-waisted floral-patterned silks, their raven-black hair piled up into elaborate confections and their lips painted in crimson red.
As you stroll through the gardens, piped instrumental music played delicately in the background. The chirping of the birds, the soft rustling of the leaves and the soothing sounds of water flowing though rocks compose an enhanced backdrop to the beauty of the gardens.
The garden was built with the philosophies of Feng Shui in mind. Aside from the fact that the garden is facing the sea with its back to the mountain, you could also see five elements of Feng Shui in the garden formations. The rocks represent Earth, the trees represent Wood,  while the pools and waterfall represent Water. The Zi Wu bridges, which were painted in red represented the element Fire and the Gold Leaf Perfection Pavillion denoted the element Metal.
As I walked passed by Fragrance Hill, which is planted with Orange Jasmines and Lilies, I cannot help but be reminded of the freshness of Jo Malones White Jasmine and Mint combined with the brisk and sensual accords of their Orange Blossom line.
I was also able to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery. As you enter, you are greeted by the sight of the four large lotus ponds, with potted bonsai trees dotted around its perimeter. I read somewhere that the "Nunnery’s layout emphasises the open space and harmony between Heaven and Earth.... Dragon water spouts are seen in the lotus ponds and are a symbol of heavenly and earthly power, wisdom and strength."
Later in the day, I visited the Song Cha Xia Chinese Teahouse. I treated myself to a  Bai Ji Guan which is a  form of Oolong Tea. It is a traditional Teahouse where you need to take your shoes off and put on the provided slippers. It was my first time to taste a fine grade of High Mountain Oolong, properly prepared in the Traditional Chinese way. I was blown away when I took my first sip. The tea delivered a bouquet of flavours that created tastes and after-tastes, tones and over-tones. It’s marvellous floral aftertaste, bloomed quickly on my tongue and expanded aromatically into my throat, spreading like the fumes of a flagrant flower. It was a perfect and calm ending to what started as a beautiful day.

To get there, Exit C2 at Diamond Hill MTR station. From Plaza Hollywood, walk pass through the forecourt, up the escalator then turn left and simply follow the signs towards Nan Lian Garden. It is open daily from 7 am – 9 pm and the entry is free.

As tripods were not allowed inside the Nan Lian Garden, I decided to bring with me my Canon EOS 6D and use 135 mm lens to capture images. I set my camera to AV Priority with constant ISO setting at 100 for crisp images and colours. My F-stop was set at minimum aperture of f/2 while my shutter speed was set to not go below 1/250 sec. 

Here were some of the images that I took that day. Hope you will enjoy them.

Upon entering the Nan Lian Garden, I passed through what seems to  
be a Lintel Gate which had swirling cloud  and lotus detailing.
Along the quite winding paths, precious Buddhist Pine Trees and 
ornamental rocks greeted visitors.
In the middle of the Lotus Pond is a gold-leaf Perfection Pavillion in 
Tang Dynasty Architecture.
Red Painted timber Zi Wu Bridges connect to the Gold Perfection Pavillon.

Dragon spouts are incorporated in the Lotus Pond. 
The Dragon, in Chinese myths, are a symbol of power, wisdom and strength.
Delicate Lotus shaped lamps are incorporated into the Chinese balustrade.

Dotted around the four Lotus Pond inside the Nunnery are 
stone entablatures with various potted Bonsai Plants.
A white and blue-eyed Starling Bird picks up a flower bud.
Elegant stone floor lamps envelope feature gardens.
As you step inside the main gate of Chi Lin Nunnery, Tang Style 
Pendant Lights light up the corridors and hallways.

A visitor doing meditation inside the Chi Lin Nunnery.
A Narcissus is on display inside the Gift Shop ahead of the Chinese New year celebration.
The Narcissus, also tagged as "The Fairy on the Water", is a Chinese traditional Winter flower. It is an excellent gift and house display as it is believed to bring luck and good fortune.

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