New Event Alert!  Attend Exclusive Guqin / 古琴 Recital with Master John Thompson

New Event Alert! Attend Exclusive Guqin / 古琴 Recital with Master John Thompson

John Thompson

Although I like to run a tight ship in terms of scheduling events here at Sacred Spaces every once and a while something comes up that prompts a “drop everything” moment. Having an opportunity to hear a renowned Guqin / 古琴 Master in a Daoist Sacred Space definitely fits that description. On March 4, 2018, at 4:00 pm we will get a chance to do just that.  The Guqin / 古琴 is one of the most ancient and recognizable of all Chinese instruments. The Guqin was played by scholars and poets, generals and courtiers for literally hundreds of years. Master John Thompson / 唐世璋, a trained ethnomusicologist and student of the late Master Sun Yü-Ch’in / 唐世璋 has been performing “Historically Informed / 復古風格演奏” elements from the Guqin repertoire for several years and has earned a reputation as a scholar and performer held in high regards. From Master Thompson’s websites…

“John Thompson, with the largest recorded repertoire for the guqin silk-string zither, is certainly one of the most listened to players today: since May 2007 his website has averaged over 8,000 hits a day, many of them from people listening through China’s music download websites to his recordings, unaware that it is not a Chinese master playing their most ancient surviving music. In all, he has reconstructed and recorded over 200 melodies from 15th and 16th century guqin tablature, and his website complements each melody with extensive musicological, historical and philosophical commentary.

As a result, John Thompson is also the best-known musician giving historically informed performances of early guqin music. After a college degree in Western musicology (early music) and graduate studies in ethnomusicology, he began in 1974 to study the modern guqin tradition from Sun Yü-Ch’in in Taiwan. After moving to Hong Kong in 1976 to consult with Tong Kin-Woon he turned his focus to early repertoire, gradually gaining a reputation for the fidelity, fluency and feeling of his performances. In 1992 the National Union of Chinese Musicians invited him to Beijing as the focus of a seminar on reconstructing music from the earliest surviving guqin handbook, Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425 CE).

While based in Hong Kong as artistic consultant to the Festival of Asian Arts Thompson performed throughout East Asia, and published seven CDs of his musical reconstructions as well as four books of music transcription. Since 2001, when he moved to New York (and including 2009-2013, when he was based in Mumbai and Singapore), he has continued to perform, teach, research and lecture on the guqin, creating new music as well. His website,, is the most comprehensive English-language source of information on this instrument.”

With special thanks to Sifu Kerby Kuek from the Tai-Yi Daoism School for co-hosting this event.

This recital and talk is a FREE Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Society “Members Only” Event. If you are not already a member please see our Membership Application here for details. Membership will give you access to this and other exclusive Sacred Spaces Society Events. Please don’t hesitate to IM me if you have any questions.  For those who wish to attend please RSVP here or go to for further details.


Attend talk “Buddhism and Human Rights: An Alliance of Shared Ethics”

Attend talk “Buddhism and Human Rights: An Alliance of Shared Ethics”

Buddhist Door


We’ll attend a talk titled “Buddhism and Human Rights: An Alliance of Shared Ethics” by Raymond Lam, Senior Writer for Buddhist Door, one of the most prestigious English language portals for Buddhism based right here in Hong Kong. This is the SECOND time we’ve heard Raymond talk about Buddhism, a topic that he is eminently qualified to speak about. This event is co-hosted by our friends at UUHK, the Hong Kong branch of the worldwide organization: Unitarian Universalist and International Association for Religious Freedom HK.

Human rights depend on axiomatic statements that take for granted the inherent worth of the human being. A Buddhist purist might call the notion of inherent human rights a dogma – a benevolent dogma, but a dogma nevertheless. After all, as there is no self and no permanence, how real is any kind of inherent right? Nevertheless, across Asia throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Buddhist nationalists allied the philosophy human rights with Buddhist principles in their ideological attack on European colonialism. In today’s uncertain world, where human rights are still taken for granted yet violated continuously, what does Buddhist philosophy have to say about the idea of natural rights? Raymond Lam is a Buddhist in the Chinese tradition and Senior Writer at Buddhistdoor Global ( As a journalist of religion, he regularly reports and opines about religion and society, culture, and politics.


The talk will be held at 11 Mong Kok Road, 10/F, Mong Kok

The 3 Ys “Ying, Yang, and You”

The 3 Ys “Ying, Yang, and You” by Sifu Kerby Kuek

The following videos were made during the “Ying Yang and You” lecture Sifu Kuek gave Hong Kong Sacred Spaces members.  It was the second in a series of events related to Daoism in contemporary life.  The “Three Ys” lecture was designed to connect our Daoism 101 class to more complex topics like Bagua 八卦 and authentic Feng Shui 風水.

More FREE events are planning for the weeks and months ahead so stay tuned!

Part 1


Part 2

Enjoy Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance

Enjoy Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance

Sometimes I read things that I’ve written for previous events and I can’t believe how naive I was!  Like this sentence:

“…Sacred Spaces has done many things in the past months.  We’ve visited many culturally significant places and received tours at locations all over Hong Kong.  The one thing that we have NOT done is take part in any festivals.  This error will be corrected very soon!…”

Yeah, right.  Very soon indeed.  Last year’s Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was, in fact, the LAST festival we attended as a group!  Well, let’s make it an annual tradition shall we.

Tai Hang Map

Sacred Spaces will attend the second to the last night of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Festival in the Tai Hang section of Causeway Bay.  According to the Tai Hong Dragon Festival Website:

“When the people of Tai Hang village miraculously stopped a plague with a fire dragon dance in the 19th century, they inadvertently launched a tradition that has since become part of China’s official intangible cultural heritage.

Festival Preparations

Tai Hang may no longer be a village, but its locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual today with a whopping 300 performers, 72,000 incense sticks, and a 67-metre dragon. The head of this beast alone weighs 48kg, so it’s not a creature to be taken lightly! The commemorative performance wends its way in fire, smoke and festive fury through the back streets of Tai Hang over three moon-fuelled days.


大 坑 火 龍一連三天,近300人舞動著長達67公尺、插上逾萬枝線香的火龍飛舞,煞是壯觀!意想不到的是,這項有逾百年歷史的舞火龍習俗,就在銅鑼灣繁華的購物區附近展開!一片鑼鼓聲中,火龍穿梭大坑一帶的大街小巷,頓時煙香繚繞、火光閃爍,充滿生氣!


…and there are some picture from our group last year

The “Dragon”
Lantern Float

and check out my video from two years ago!

If you’re interested RSVP here and meet us at Tin Hau MTR Station, Exit A1 on October 5th, 2017 at 7 PM.

Visit Devil’s Peak and Lei Yue Mun

Visit Devil’s Peak and Lei Yue Mun

Several weeks ago Hong Kong Sacred Spaces went to the Hong Kong Coastal Defense Museum 香港海防博物館 near Sau Kei Wan 筲箕湾 on Hong Kong Island. When there the group kept looking across the Lei Yue Mon 鯉魚門 channel to the hills just opposite and our docent guide told us about a fort, now in ruins, lay just on the other side.  The name of that fort was Devil’s Peak 魔鬼山 and it was a major part of Hong Kong’s naval defenses at the beginning in the 20th Century consisting of Gough Battery, the Devil’s Peak Redoubt, and the Pottinger Battery. These defense fortifications were “state-of-the-art” at the time and included several serious guns pointed at the Eastern Approach.  Bad news to the uninvited.  The fortifications are ruins now but they have become part of the “ghost” forts of Hong Kong.  Fortifications that were not maintained by previous leadership: Ming, Qing, or British.

Sacred Spaces will exit from the Yau Tong MTR 油 Station and walk 20 minutes to the section of the Wilson Trail where the structures are sited and explore these forgotten sentinels.  We’ll then head down to the shore line and visit the Tin Hau Temple that’s positioned just next door to the Lei Yue Mun Fishing Village and Seafood Market. After our time exploring both high and low we’ll head over to the fish market for a seafood lunch.

Devil’s Peak

Come along for a little fun and exploration.  You’ll get a chance to see several layers of Hong Kong history and culture.

Lei Yue Mun

As always I’ve put together some materials for the interested.  They include a few reports written some ago describing the installations in great detail.  A survey of the Pottinger Battery and a Report on the Redevelopment of Lei Yun Mun from HKSAR Government.

If you’re interested in exploring with us on Saturday, September 30 from 9:45 AM to around 12 noon, click here to RSVP.

First and second photos are from wiki commons, the third is from Hong Kong EPD

Visit the Kowloon Mosque

Visit the Kowloon Mosque

In an effort to continue to see the many sacred spaces that Hong Kong has the Hong Kong Sacred Spaces  Group is honored to have been invited to visit the Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre.

Please be part of a unique cultural exchange with a visit to the Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. We have secured a one hour tour through the Mosque and other facilities that will be conducted in English and will cover the over 100-year history of the Mosque and the local Community in Hong Kong.

Although not the first, Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre is the biggest mosque in Hong Kong and can accommodate 3,500 people during daily prayer services.

This is an amazing opportunity to see the inside of this august establishment. Do not miss this opportunity! A few things of note from the Mosque Offices.  All visitors must be properly dressed that will not offend sanctity of the Mosque.   Also,  All visits to the Kowloon Mosque & Islamic Centre are FREE OF CHARGE but we appreciate donations. If you have any questions please contact me and I will endeavor to get them answered.

If you’d like to come please RSVP here.  We should meet at the steps to the left just outside MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exit A1 Kowloon Park at 10:00 AM PROMPTLY as we will go into the Mosque as a group.

Hong Kong Cemetery Event Notes

Hong Kong Cemetery Event Notes

Happy Valley

There are locations in Hong Kong that are difficult to research.  Hong Kong Cemetery is NOT one of them.

The problem with reviewing material about the Cemetery is that there’s a lot of it and if you’re not a professional historian you’ve got to find the time to read it.  Two places to begin, I think, are two recent excellent books on the subject that go over many of the same themes regarding the Cemetery that I tried to on the 香港 (HK) Sacred Spaces 4 August 2017 event.
First, there’s Ken Nicolson‘s “The Happy Valley: The History and Tour of Hong Kong Cemetery“.
Dr. Nicolson’s book is an excellent introduction to the Cemetery and is extremely helpful in laying out the history behind Garden or Rural cemeteries in Europe and the Americas.  He also contrasts the aesthetics of the Euro-American approach with Traditional Chinese Burial Practices to give the reader a more balanced idea about how the Hong Kong Cemetery came into being.  He also spends a great deal of time writing about the destruction of many of the built structures in the Cemetery and the importance of conservation as a possible legacy of contemporary Hong Kong Society. Nicholson is an authority on local History combining that knowledge with a strong sense of environmental activism.  Highlighting how the environmental concerns of conservation of not only nature but the built environment are one of the most pressing issues today.  His other architectural work is also well known as he was previously awarded the 2006 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for his work on with St. Andrew’s Church in Kowloon (another outstanding Sacred Spaces Event!).  This book is published by Hong Kong University Press.
I can’t really say enough about “Forgotten Souls: A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery” by Ms. Patricia Lim.
Although it is a bit sprawling at times given its sheer size (624 pages), it is THE book on understanding the community of permanent residents at the Cemetery and how there is history is OUR history.  The extraordinary thing about Forgotten Souls is that it uses the Cemetery as a backdrop for the Social History of Hong Kong itself.  Ms. Lim weaves the personal stories of my many of the people there pulling their stories into the larger narrative of Hong Kong. Soldiers and sailors, merchants and revolutionaries, missionaries and scoundrels all step forward tell their story.  This book is well worth the time and investment.  This book is also published by Hong Kong University Press.
On our visit, we stopped at four graves.   The first was Ho Tung, Sir Robert Ho and his first wife Margaret Mak Sau Ying (Plot: Sec. 11B), the second stop was Sir Paul Chater (Plot Sec.11B) of Hong Kong Land and Hong Kong Electric fame, and finally Yeung Ku-wan 楊衢雲 (Plot Sec. 4) early Xinhai Revolutionary leader and founder of the Furen Literary Society 輔仁文社.

Sir Robert Ho Tung Boseman, KBE JP1   (1862 – 1956)
Sir Robert (Ho) Tong
We said a lot of nice things about Sir Robert Ho Tung.  Despite this, he and his wife (as well as others like them) were not always highly respected in Hong Kong.  In fact, those who see the world through a nationalist especially leftist political lens often saw the Compradors 2 of old as foreign collaborators.  The term used to describe this group is Comprador Bourgeoisie.  This was not meant to be a compliment.  It’s even making a bit of a comeback in certain circles to describe globalization in our contemporary world.  The fact that he was allegedly one of the biggest donors to the Xinhai Revolution is often difficult to square with these folks and a lot of intellectual gymnastics is used to pick and chose facts that suit them.
I’m actually more interested nowadays with the Ho family dynamic, especially how the smaller family units worked with the larger one.  Sir Robert and Margaret, Sir Robert and Chai Yee Man 周綺文, and Sir Robert and Clara Cheung Lin-Kok 張靜容 aka 張蓮覺 all seem to have been slightly different parts of the family but yet these three parts made up a whole.  It appears to have worked for everyone involved but that is, of course, is impossible to know.  Maybe Margaret’s recruitment to her maternal cousin Clara to be “co-equal” wife is the key to this riddle.  How did these families coexist? How did they negotiate what must have been some very difficult human emotions? What ever happen to Chai Yee Man 周綺文?  I think these questions could be the basis for some very interest events in the future.

Sir Paul Chater (1846 – 1926)
Sir Paul Chater
Born Khachik Pogose Astwachatoor (Խաչիկ Պողոս Աստվածատրյան) in British Calcutta, Sir Paul moved to Hong Kong in 1864.  With the help of the Sassoon Family, he began life in Hong Kong as a banker in the now defunct Bank of Hindustan, China, and Japan on the gold bullion desk.  Supposedly he was a licensed surveyor and hired a sampan to take night readings in Victoria Harbour in the area where the first Central Reclamation Project was eventually to take place.  That project called the “Praya Reclamation Scheme“, was finally accomplished with his newly formed Company Hong Kong Land one of the oldest and most prestigious Property Developers in Asia.  Including many of his other businesses, horse racing fans will know his name for the “Hong Kong Champions and Chater Cup”, the first part of the so called Hong Kong Triple Crown.  Most of his estate went back to the Armenian Community in India but much of his art collection makes up some of the most important pieces of the Hong Kong Art Museum’s Permanent Collection.

Yeung Ku Wan (1861 – 1901)
Yeung Ku Wan
I get the feeling that the main problem nowadays for non-historians trying and learn about the Xinhai Revolution 辛亥革命 in 1911 is that it is still, after all these years, politically radioactive.  How a motley group of revolutionaries took down the Mighty Qing Empire is still, in my mind, one of the most amazing organizational feats of all time.  Despite the literally THOUSANDS of attempts to do total Dynastic rule over the millennia only the 1911 generation, the year of the Metal Pig in the Chinese Calendar, could pull it off.  I guess Nelson Mandela was right when he said…
“Everything is impossible until it finished.”
Mr. Yeung seems to have been the early “heart and soul” of the movement and his death marked a turning point in the young revolution.  Everyone seems to have grown up a bit when the stakes became so high.  It reminds me of another story I read somewhere, probably urban legend, that says when after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 someone quipped
“We just signed our own death warrants.”
The price for revolution was particularly high for his young family as Mr. Yeung was fatally shot at his home while his children looked on.  They paid a high price indeed, children growing up without a father and his wife without a partner. Dr. Sun himself, on behalf of many others, raised $1,000 Silver Dollars for the widow and children of Mr. Yeung and wrote a now famous eulogy about him and his (and their) ambitions for China.  It can be read on the wall in the alley not far from where he was assassinated along with the Sun Yet-Sen Trail in Sheung Wan.
1 KBE Knight Commander of the British Empire, JP Justice of the Peace
2 Comprador comes from the Portuguese meaning Buyer.  It was mostly used during the years of the Cold War.  See Google Word Analysis here.

Explore Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple


Hong Kong Sacred Spaces continues to spread its wings with a special planned visit to the Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple in Happy Valley. This tour in English will explain the temple as well as aspects of the Sikh community in Hong Kong. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to experience the important sacred and meditative spaces around Hong Kong. …

The Gurudwara was built in 1901 by local Sikhs, including soldiers from the British Army, with the intent of providing religious, social, practical and cohesive support to Sikhs in Hong Kong. Many Sikhs on their way to immigrate to Canada, in what later became the Komagata Maru incident, slept in the Gurudwara and prayed there before boarding the ship in 1914.

In the 1930s, with an increase in the size of the local Sikh community, the Gurudwara was extended and rebuilt. It was bombed twice during World War II, suffering extensive damage that killed the Gurudwara Granthi, Bhai Nand Singh. The damaged parts of the Gurudwara were rebuilt after the war by the community, with the assistance of Sindhi Hindus. The Gurudwara was again extended in the 1980s, and linked to Queen’s Road East by a covered bridge, which provides easy access for the devotees…”

There are no photography restrictions in Gurudwara but there is a respectful dress code, as well as a traditional food. I will provide a link to a website which describes in detail what to expect.

To access the book “Sikh: Practices and Principles an Introduction

To access the Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Library click here.

Finally, If you’d like to add items to the folder including photos, maps, or other files you can create a FREE account by clicking here.

If you’d like to visit the Gurdwara with us please click here for RSVP