One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.
“Sun is warm, grass is green.”
In the midst of the overpopulated Hong Kong lies a peaceful gem set against the backdrop of the towering skyscrapers of Diamond Hill. Peace doesn’t come cheap but here, with no entrance fees, it’s the way nature intended: free.
The Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden – a place usually overlooked by most travelers – can be found after just a short walk from the Diamond Hill subway exit at Hollywood Plaza.
The clearly marked path leads you to the entrance of the scenic Nan Lian Garden where you can pick up a map and stroll around a 3.5 hectare area reflecting the imperial period of the Tang Dynasty. The garden is carefully landscaped and using every rock, tree and water feature to bring all the elements of nature in complete harmony with one another.
While visitors stand in line for the Peak Tram or the Ngong Ping Cable Car you’ll only find a handful of people leisurely strolling around something that can only be described as an oasis of tranquility. The absence of big crowds blurs out the sound of cars and you just hear the peaceful chirps of birds, Buddhist chants and running water.
Next to the Nan Lian Garden you can find the Chi Lin Nunnery – a complex that is wrapped up in a beautiful collection of wooden architecture, lotus ponds, golden Buddha statues and burning incense. To this day it’s still a place of worship for many Hong Kongers and even if you’re not Buddhist, you can sense the peaceful state of just “being” in the wind blowing between the pillars leading up to the bodhisattvas’ divinity.
The Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden should not be on a list of “things to do”, but rather on a list of “places to just be”. The busy streets of the city are just around the corner, the neon lights and crowds are just a stone’s throw away and here, amidst the chaos of the city, you can get away from it all. Here you can find a bit of zen, total togetherness of body and mind. Here the sun is warm and the grass is green.
Getting there: Take the MTR to Diamond Hill Station, take Exit C2, turn right after you get off from the escalator, follow the signs and cross the street to reach the entrance of the Nan Lian Garden.
Opening Hours: 07:00 – 21:00
Entrance Fee for Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden: Free
Eat: There are a variety of restaurants in Hollywood Plaza and there is a tea garden and vegetarian restaurant in Nan Lian Garden.