My ‘Dolce far Niente’: gardens, nunneries and Rugby 7s

People have often said to me that they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they didn’t work…which I’ve never understood. During my three months of not working, I was never bored or found myself wishing I was back at work. Instead, I embraced one of the good old Eat, Pray, Love lessons of practising ‘Dolce far Niente’, the sweetness of doing nothing.

While I was enjoying being nowhere at a particular time, having no expectations of what each day would bring, and essentially being happy doing my own ‘nothing style’, I came to realise that people in Hong Kong might actually be worse than a lot of other cultures at switching off and slowing down to simply enjoy life.

When I say the city doesn’t seem to slow down, I mean ever ( well, technically I mean this metaphorically, if you’ve ever been here you will know just how hard it is to walk fast in the streets and get somewhere you need to be in a hurry!). When I was back home in Australia we would joke about being glued to your phone and not socialising, but here you can play spot the group who aren’t on their phones while enjoying a meal together, or the person who is walking without phone in hand either either reading a book, WhatsApping their friends, or playing Pokemon.

Sometimes the best way to be connected, is to switch off and just enjoy what’s going on around you.

Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery

Hidden away among highways and shopping centres in Hong Kong is the Nan Lian Garden, a garden full of beautiful scenery, buildings, and a Chinese timber architecture gallery. And while it’s not a world heritage site yet, it is on China’s tentative list!

The garden follows the traditions of traditional landscape gardening techniques, utilising as much of the space and environment as possible to transform the space. As you follow the designated route, you will find yourself walking through constantly changing scenery with something to look at every corner you turn – you might even spot the gardeners taking a break hiding in the shrubs near Banyan Grove!

Connected by a pedestrian bridge, the garden is joint to the Lotus Pond Garden of the Chi Lin Nunnery…and just before you cross if you look back out over the garden you get a great birds eye view of the layout.

Built by only wood – not one nail – the nunnery was such a calming place. Having been rebuilt in 1988, it’s definitely not an ancient building, but it still does feel very traditional!

Rugby Sevens

Over the past month the Rugby Sevens has been one of the most discussed things on the event calendar. It’s a pretty big deal.  From about a week before the games, there was a stream of tourists arriving, filling into Lan Kwai Fong and getting the party started. So naturally, I decided to go check it out the scene… even thought I didn’t have a ticket.

I headed off to the village, and felt like I basically entered a college party. There was costumes, face paint, street drinking, groups singing chants, other groups trying to carry their mate who has half passed out home….and more.

The village is a family-fun place where you can go and watch the games on the big screen, and then after dark the scene changes to having live music with strobe lights and way more drunk people. It was a pretty good vibe, everyone was really friendly – I ended up being there on my own and still managed to have a ball, making lots of new friends!

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Just a short walk from our new home is the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which is exactly what it sounds like – but it is free and not a full zoo but a few exhibits of mainly monkeys and tortoises.

While I don’t really enjoy supporting the caging of animals, it was quite nice to walk through the gardens, escaping the heat of the spring sun (I don’t know how I will manage when summer hits – the humidity is already a killer!).

It is a very open garden, and the stray cats enjoyed the garden just as much as we did. We saw one jump through some of the enclosures that didn’t have roofs, stopping on of the roofs of where the tortoise was sleeping. It’s crazy to think that this is only 5 minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of the city, but I think that makes you appreciate it a little more, knowing that this part of the city has been savoured, and even better isn’t being monetised.

Until next week, that’s a wrap!

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