A peek inside. The selection was eclectic.
Imagine a suburb in tone and commercial complexion, but as densely populated as the nearby metropolis, maybe even moreso. This is Kowloon. Go to the center of it and find a Buddhist nunnery as quiet, perfectly manicured and enbubbled as a snow globe with monsoon rain instead of glitter. This is Chi Lin Nunnery, today.
Find the nunnery after winding through a thriving serene garden with a wide brick path that curves and doubles back so much it's easy to believe the park could be twice or three times its actual size. I don't know what to make of the piped-in music through hidden outdoor speakers, though; it made it feel a little too much like a snow globe. But real supplicants do pray at the shrines, in silence with many bows.
Wong Tai Sin Temple is the opposite of devotional silence. It's a carnival of luck-mongering. Its soothsayer god attracts rowdy crowds that grab for baskets of foretune-telling sticks and shake them with a furious racket until a single number falls out that they can take to a reader to hear their future. Housewives with business-like nonchalance ash incense on absolutely everything and everyone as they punt their way to the urns at the front of the shrine. The water beading from the airborne roots of the banyan trees must taste like incense smoke.