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A Day at Wong Tai Sin Temple

June 4, 2007

The Wong Tai Sin Temple is a huge affair, regrouping the 3 main religions represented in Hong Kong, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. It’s tright in the center of Hong Kong – you get there by subway and come out (as always) through a huge, modern (and beautifully air conditioned) shopping center – but when you reach the temple you’re in another world. In front of the main altar, the thing to do is take a cup filled with numbered bamboo sticks, kneel in front of the altar and, while closing your eyes and thinking of a question, shake them until one falls out. This can be interpreted, for a price, by fortune-tellers outside the temple. Michel and I both got number 69, which got the guards (cleaners?) all excited – apparently it’s very good and no need to pay a fortune teller. He asked us if we’d asked about our marriage, and we both said yes – it was a lie, but it made him so happy…

Drawing here was a little tricky for me because people kept coming over to look, which tends to make me freeze up. I sort of got used to it though.

Here’s a view of worshipers burning incense before the main altar,with our friendly guard helping them out (he’s the one in the hat)

Shaking the bamboo sticks…

Gazing over the altar

A view of one of the smaller altars

Just outside the main altar, there are some spots to burn incense (the incense starts to burn your eyes after a while) – these are as popular as the main altars

Very shortly, you tire of the hustle and bustle (and incense smoke!). A few steps away, there is a sgarden with a fountain. There, all was calm – there was a woman knitting and a few people strolling around a pool, with a fountain shaped like a fish, where there were plenty of turtles swimming around and fighting over the rare places in the sun.

We hiked up some steps, and I salute Michel’s patience as he waited for me to sketch the colorful roofs – we were just meltingin the heat at this point! Unfortunately, the format here at WordPress distorts this drawing, which is my favorite of all the ones I did in HK. Try looking here for a better view.

Up a little farther we found some shade. I sketched a covered resting place just across from us, and next thing I knew a crowd of Chinese women were looking and commenting in Cantonese. Michel wanted toget a picture of that (it was over so quickly) so asked me to do another, but this time no one stopped.

Finally, here’s a view of the city from the very top of the temple, skyscrapers as far as you can see.

At this point we went back to the shopping center,found a Starbuck’s and had a mango smoothie!

Marta has asked that I give details of my traveling art supplies, so here’s a photo – not very extensive, I’m afraid – a large format moleskine watercolor sketchbook, a smaller ‘paperblanks’ sketchbook, a small box of Daler and Rowney watercolors, a pilot v-ball 07, some Pentel waterbrushes, Derwent water soluble pencils, plus a couple of 9B graphite pencils, a tortillon , pencil sharpener, erasers etc, not to mention the box of aspirin for the headaches the heat was giving me. . I actually think I could have cut down a little more – and my purse often felt way too heavy (with camera, guide book, etc.)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2007 8:55 am

    FANTASTIC and so many too!!! Eye candy on a dull Monday morning, thanx for sharing Casey!

  2. June 4, 2007 9:40 am

    wow! you managed to do a lot of sketches. they are beautiful and thanks for sharing the details of your travel kit.

  3. June 4, 2007 11:54 am

    It’s so good to have you back. These are great sketches – thank you for sharing them. I especially love the one of the small altar.

  4. sandy permalink
    June 4, 2007 2:25 pm

    Hi Casey, Welcome Home – what a great time you seem to have had – great sketches and the temple info is most intriguing. Also Big thanks for the look into your travel sketch bag – always looking for way to lighten and yet have everything!

  5. June 4, 2007 4:19 pm

    wonderful sketches Casey…I love the one of the small altar. great work
    ronell

  6. June 4, 2007 8:14 pm

    These are just wonderful Casey! I feel like I just took a trip. Thank you.

  7. June 5, 2007 1:08 am

    I love them all! The b/w sketches, are those done in watersolube pen? or is that the Derwent pencils and pen? I like the look….especially on the one of the fish fountain. I spent the day shopping for travel things…like shoes, clothes. Our trip is now only 4 months away! I am so looking forward to meeting and sketching with you and Ronelle!

  8. caseytoussaint permalink*
    June 5, 2007 9:21 am

    Thank you everybody – it’s so much fun to share my trip with you.

    Marta, the fish is just done in a Derwent 8b water soluble pen and worked over with a waterbrush.

  9. June 7, 2007 3:34 am

    Beautiful! The colored ones are so vivid, and you did so many sketches. Bravo!

  10. June 9, 2007 10:21 am

    hi there,
    i used to living behind Wong Tai Sin temple (thats about more than 15 years ago) — a very old public estate which now it has been rebuilt. U draw it very well and brings me a lot of memories. 🙂

  11. June 10, 2007 7:41 pm

    Beautiful sketches and commentary, Casey. These are wonderful and will give you many great memories.

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