shau kei wan is one of the districts i visit quite regularly; most of the time because of the museum of coastal defense and the promenade that allows me to stroll all the way to taikoo shing, sometimes en route to hong kong film archive.
my last trip to the district, in the end of january, however was a new experience. it was a discovery of two temple clusters. skw is an old district and rich in human interest and old local custom and culture and i’ve visited some of its historic monuments including some old temples. but i only came to know these new two from this trip.
the first temple cluster is on a kung ngam village road. easy to spot. it is all vermilion on a little platform in the middle of the road. more like a common altar as the structure is a bit rough, compare to the usual elaborate buildings of traditional temple. the main goddess worshipped here is wong-mo-neong-neong (in cantonese) who is the heavenly empress in chinese folklore.
there are however more than one god and goddess under one roof. as the sign shows, people can also pay their respect to goddess of mercy, the five thunder gods, great sage of the buddha and shing wong lord.
i did not enter the first temple cluster and probably should pay another visit to understand more. the second cluster however immediately pulled me to it. the site and setting of the temple is fascinating, least to mention the novelty. i haven’t heard of a temple of cheung fei before. he was a highly respected general during the three kingdoms period but he certainly is not a god.
this temple cluster is not marked on google map, not difficult to find though. if you see shau kei wan jockey club clinic, you can then spot a temple right above just look at its back up on the hill. the old aldrich village was built there. you can still find a big notice board of the village near the beginning of the staircase.
an easy and tidy staircase from the bottom of the hill leads us to the temple cluster. this stairway is in front of a red big board with the name of the six temples written on it. clearly, those are what you can expect up on the hill. the question is how these gods are settling in. it seems not a big space up on the hill.
not long after climbing the staircase, a big metal board will greet you. the names of the temples again. it also states the board was put up by the nam on fong resident association in 1943.
on top of the stairway, there are an archway and two stone lions. that is the main entrance. the four characters up there say good place produces outstanding people. indeed, the scenery and green say it all.
right at the front is kwan tai temple. kwan tai’s mightly horse and weapon stay guard. the goddess of mercy temple is right next to kwan tai temple. further in another twin temples that seem older are at the right end of the open ground. they are fook tak che and hung shing temple. the shed on their right is where the nam on resident association office is at. this square seems to be the oldest at this hill-top area. a bronze incense pot in front of hung shing temple has a time stamp of third year of kuang-hsu (emperor), meaning it was made around 1878.
there is another stairway at the left of the archway. cheung fei miao (temple) is up there. colourful flags are hoisted around the temple. that is because it just celebrated its anniversary a week back. unusually this temple is guarded by tigers and not lions. apparently cheung fei was an outstanding general and tigers are considered fiercer than lions and match the status of a martial immortal.
then right above cheung fei temple is lau bai temple. another stairway leads us to the very top of this hill.
one note to make, lau bai (liu bei in mandarin), kwan ti (guan yu/guan yunxian) and cheung fei (zhang fei), the three heroes of three kingdoms, are true and remarkable historic personalities. chinese literature master “romance of the three kingdoms” successfully portray a strong brotherhood bond among the three. this temple cluster seems to be a good attempt to materialize these values by setting up altars of the three ‘brothers’ in one place.