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Hong Kong Kowloon Diamond Hill Nan Lian Garden Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery

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Hong Kong Kowloon Diamond Hill Nan Lian Garden Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery

Nan Lian Garden is situated at Diamond Hill of Kowloon, taking in the full view of southeast Kowloon. The Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery to its north together back into the sprawling northern mountain range. Hammer Hill Road borders the Garden on the east, Lung Cheung Road on the south, and Hollywood Plaza, a large shopping mall, on its west. The Garden opens to the west. An MTR station is just opposite the Main Gate.

The Garden is a designated public park, with an area of 35,000 square metres. It was designed and built by the Chi Lin Nunnery, entrusted by the Government, and is opened to the public in November 2006. It is currently managed by the Chi Lin Nunnery, also entrusted by the Government.

The Garden is built in the classical style of the Tang Dynasty (618 AD to 907 AD), on the blue print of Jiangshouju, the only Tang landscape garden the original layout of which can still be placed and traced today, and the shape of which bears a significant resemblance to the Garden site. Hills and rocks, waters, plants and timber structures are built and arranged according to classical Tang style and rules, accommodating the local environment, and the best view of the sprawling mountain range to the north is taken as the seamless backdrop.

The Garden is a Tang garden built in modern times, its architecture and landscaping reminiscent of nature and conducive towards a sense of serenity and tranquility, an ambience in which visitors may enjoy a moment of leisure and peace of mind, whilst reflecting on the profound richness of classical Chinese culture, right in the midst of the urban city hustle and bustle. It is hoped this will help promote the knowledge of and interest in classical Chinese culture.

Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery

The gallery is a Tang-styled timber structure in the north-west corner of the garden. It is a place for appreciation of the art of Tang Dynasty timber architecture.

For all the abundance of written works in ancient China, few were studies on architecture, which was not considered an independent branch of knowledge. Because of the ravages of time and history, the oldest surviving timber structures in China is the main hall of the Nan Chan Monastery in Shanxi, which was built in the Tang Dynasty (782 AD), and the main hall of the Foguang Monastery, rebuilt in Tang Dynasty (857 AD).

The Gallery is one of the major timber structures in the Garden, built according to Tang architecture. The curved-eave roof has a long history. The Tang version of it modifies the angle of the upward curve at the eaves, making them magnificent, authoritative, gracious and pleasant without being either ponderously serious or cheekily frivolous.

The gallery houses the scaled models of historical timber structures listed as National Key Protected Heritage in China, including:- 1. The main hall of the Foguang Monastery, reputedly built in the time of the Bei Wei Kingdom (5th Century AD), and rebuilt in the Tang Dynasty (7-10th Century); 2. The main hall of the Nan Chan Monastery built in the Tang Dynasty, which enjoys equal recognition with Foguang Monastery, the two being known collectively as the “Twin Treasures”; 3. The Sakyamuni Pagoda in Fogong Monastery – also known as the wooden pagoda in Shanxi built in the time of the Kingdom of Liao (10–12th Century AD) and recognized internationally as a representative work of ancient Chinese architecture; 4. The gate and Guanyin (Bodhisattva of Mercy) Pavilion of the Dule Monastery in Tianjin built in the time of the Kingdom of Liao (10–12th Century AD); and 5. The Taihe Hall in the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, which served as the seat of absolute imperial authority in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14–20th Century AD).

Also in the Gallery is the scaled model of the Main Hall of Chi Lin Nunnery in Hong Kong, built after the style of monasteries in the Tang Dynasty, as well as various scaled models of bracket systems used in large scale or monumental buildings in Chinese architecture.

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This panorama was taken in Hong Kong

This is an overview of Hong Kong

Overview and History

Hong Kong sits on the south coast of China, on the Pearl River Delta. It's got a population of more than seven million people and is one of the most densely populated places on earth. It also appears to be putting into place the template for population management, which cities around the world will be implementing as soon as they can afford it. More on that later.

Archaeological evidence dates human activity beneath present-day Hong Kong back to the stone age. The area was first settled by people from the mainland during the Han dynasty, around the beginning of the common era (the P.C. term for when B.C. changed to A.D. Whoa!)

For hundreds of years, Hong Kong was a small fishing community and haven for travelers, with a few pirates here and there. Then whitey showed up.

Western influence reached China at the beginning of the 15th century, when all those great explorers in boats were cruising for loot in strange and mysterious places. Tea and silk were the commodities connecting eastern Europe to China, and Hong Kong was known as a safe harbor through which to pass. When you're carrying the Queen's tea, it's especially important to avoid ARRRRRRguments with pirates. Hyuk hyuk hyuk.

Seriously folks -- in the eighteenth century Britain was doing a booming business with China, offering Indian opium to balance their extensive purchases of fine porcelains and everything else. The opium was ordained to be for medicinal purposes only, of course.

Well, as you may imagine, the Chinese got sick of opium fiends junking up the place, so they attempted to stop the British suppliers, to no avail. The Opium Wars resulted and ended with China ceding Hong Kong to the British, in fear of their massive naval power. This took place in the year 1841.

Colonization soon followed, Hong Kong shot up in value as an international port, and its population increased dramatically. In 1898 Britain acquired additional territories on a 99 year lease -- expiring in 1997. Does that year sound familiar? Read on.

In the 20th century Hong Kong changed hands several times. The British surrendered it to Japan during World War Two, then took it back after Japan's defeat, then gave it to China later. Immediately following the war, Hong Kong served as a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of Chinese refugees, while the Chinese National Government was losing its civil war against communist leadership.

The population of Hong Kong exploded as corporations seeking to escape Chinese isolationism arrived and set up shop. Cheap labor in the textile and manufacturing industries steadily built up the economy and ensured foreign investment. By the end of the 20th century Hong Kong had become a financial mammoth offering banking services to the world.

In 1997 Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule with a few stipulations in place to guarantee its economic autonomy, as much as possible. The phrase "one country, two systems" was coined by the Chinese to describe the relationship between the mainland and Hong Kong.

Getting There

Well, where do you want to get to from the Hong Kong International Airport? There are ferries servicing six mainland ports in the Pearl River Delta Region. Airport Express Railway connects directly to downtown Hong Kong, and it has been rated the best airport in the world multiple times.

The Airport Express Railway will get you into Hong Kong in about an hour, for $100. Public buses cost $10 and take a little longer. For direct service to your hotel you can take one of the hotel's private buses ($120+) or a taxi ($300+). As you can see, waiting time is optional for those who can afford it.

Here's a little blurb on travel times, with further information for access to nearby cities (cross-boundary transport).

Transportation

Grab an Octopus card when you arrive. Octopus is the world's first electronic ticket-fare card system and the Hong Kong public transportation system is the world leader in people-moving. 90% of Hong Kongers get around on public transportation.

Octopus covers the Airport Rail line, buses, ferries, the rapid-transit MTR network, supermarkets, fast food outlets, phone booths... It's how to get around the cashless economy.

Nevermind the microchip built into it, you'll get used to having one of those on you at all times -- and soon they'll be internal! What do I mean? Many schools in Hong Kong even use the Octopus card to check attendance, because you read the card's data with an external scanner from a distance. This will the global norm soon. What if that chip is installed in your body? It's in the works baby!

The hilly Hong Kong terrain also demands some special modes of transportation. If you've been to Pittsburgh, you may have some idea of how cool it is to ride a cable car up the side of a mountain, overlooking a majestic harbor and city. Multiply that by about ten thousand and you've got Hong Kong: vertical-travel trams, moving sidewalks, and the world's longest outdoor escalator system.

People and Culture

The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD) which is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Official languages are Chinese and English.  You're on your own, baby!  Dive into the swarming, throbbing, pulsing, crawling and teeming mix!

Things to do & Recommendations

The Peak Tower and its shopping Galleria are the biggest tourist attraction in Hong Kong so don't miss it.

Cool off in the Kowloon Park public indoor swimming pool!

After that, go see what's happening at the Hong Kong Fringe Club, a non-profit organisation which puts together exhibitions for international artists and performers.

Organize sports fans flock to the Hong Kong Stadium, but there's good news for disorganized sportistas too -- Mountain biking is now legal in the parks! Have at it, baby!

All this excitement is going to make you hungry. Springtime is traditionally the time to celebrate seafood, summer is for fruits, and winter steams with hot pot soups to keep you warm.

The best thing to do is go and find some dim sum. Dozens of plates of tasty small items, sort of like sushi but it's cooked, and the varieties are endless.

Since you won't be able to walk down the street without complete and total sensory overload, I'll just whap in the Hong Kong tourist board's guide to dining and leave you to your intuition.

Good luck, take it slow and above all -- DON'T SPIT OUT YOUR CHEWING GUM ON THE SIDEWALK. Gum is legal but there's a $500 fine for intentional littering. Enjoy!

Text by Steve Smith.

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