au revoir tai hang!

I am finally moving out of this old city hood into the central new territories, a special kind of mountainous suburbia close to my new university, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. I highly recommend life in Tai Hang but the human electricity that runs through ieventually catches up with you–the frantic mobs, the noises all around, the mammoth constructions left, above, underneath you and to the right. Tai Hang faces the destruction of old Hong Kong and hyper inflation of all real estate. It takes place right before your celestial eyes. If one could just be like the Roman emperor Nero who even observed his city go up in flames and kept singing along  “burn baby burn….burn burn baby burn.”

Tai Hang Fire Dragon

Yesterday night the rain cleared and the fired dragon danced around  in the streets of old Tai Hang for many hours. People seemed very happy to carry the dragon (made of thousands of burning incense sticks) despite the unstable weather conditions earlier on. If you read about the history of the dragon below, you will understand why it was important for the dragon to chase away the squally typhoon air. This is a kind of powerful trance ritual that is hard to find in this glitzy city & hopefully will stay despite the  the real estate overhaul.

“Back in the days when land reclamation had not pushed the shoreline so far away, Tai Hang was a small fishing village with just a few hundred inhabitants. In 1880, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, it was lashed by a powerful storm – some versions of this legendary story say a typhoon – that devastated the waterfront hamlet. Around the same time, a large serpent entered the village and was killed by some of the residents. Shortly afterwards, plague and cholera broke out in Tai Hang, leading to the deaths of over 10 individuals. One night, a village elder was visited in a dream by the Buddha – though, appropriately for an area home to a beautiful Lin Fa Kung (Palace of the Golden Flower) temple dedicated to her, some versions state the message came via Kwun Yum, the Goddess of Mercy – and learnt that the serpent beaten to death in Tai Hang had been none other than the son of the consequently wrathful Dragon King. As that aquatic monarch was afraid of fire, Tai Hang’s residents were instructed to make a fire dragon and dance through the streets with it. Which they promptly did and successfully rid themselves of both Dragon King and the diseases. And they have continued the ceremony with much gusto every year since – bar for the troubled times when Hong Kong was under Japanese occupation, and during the 1967 disturbances.””

Back in the days when land reclamation had not pushed the shoreline so far away, Tai Hang was a small fishing village with just a few hundred inhabitants. In 1880, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, it was lashed by a powerful storm – some versions of this legendary story say a typhoon – that devastated the waterfront hamlet. Around the same time, a large serpent entered the village and was killed by some of the residents. Shortly afterwards, plague and cholera broke out in Tai Hang, leading to the deaths of over 10 individuals.

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