The neighborhood that we are staying in, Sham Shui Po (which is on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong), is definitely one with color. Now that our group has had a chance to explore the area a bit and venture outside of the comfort zone of tourists, we are better able to make observations and comparisons about the different neighborhoods. Sham Shui Po is definitely one of the poorer districts, and with some online reading I found an unusual article by CNN that describes this neighborhood as the "murderous psychopath" to the more sophisticated Hong Kong Island. Far from the tourist's eye, Sham Shui Po provides some interesting insight into Chinese culture that is lost in the more polished areas of the city. The specialty markets and food in this area are some of the best examples. The food is inexpensive, often no more than a few USD, and the variety ranges from traditional Chinese cuisine to Vietnamese and Taiwanese. One Chinese Dim Sum restaurant that is within walking distance from our hotel even has a Michelin star, an honor reserved for only the best restaurants throughout the world. Along with the Michelin star there are also numerous food carts out on the street, and with careful guidance from a friend who has much experience picking out the trustworthy stalls from the suspect, we are able to try a few new dishes. A few favorites so far include BBQ Pork Buns (of course), Lo Mai Gai (a rice cake stuffed with meats and spices, steamed in a lotus leaf), and Stir Fried Ho Fun (a rice noodle dish).
Aside from exploring the city, our team continues to work hard to put together our group exhibit. Our days are split between studio hours in the morning and afternoon, and excursions into the city later in the day. After a morning of printing in the photo lab, our excursion today was to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin. While ten thousand seems like a steep number, after visiting the monastery this estimate seems quite generous. The temples are elevated with life-size golden Buddha figurines lining the entire staircase that leads to the top. My pedometer reads that I've climbed the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs today. The interior of the temples were of course filled with Buddhas as well, these ranging from a few inches to what had to be about 40 feet high, all covered in glittering gold.