Tucked away in the boho Sheung Wan district of Hongkers, shadowed by neighbouring office blocks and residential towers adorned with drying clothes that hang over balconies like bunting, is Man Mo Temple. One of the oldest temples in the city, Man Mo is named for the god of literature (Man), and the god of war (Mo). Before any of you bright sparks raise the obvious question of whether the pen is mightier than the sword – the temple was a place of worship for students sitting the civil exams of Imperial China.
Gamer nerds would recognise this Qing-dynasty temple (built in 1847 for those playing at home) from the Xbox game Shenmue II. As I probably know most of my readers, I’m gonna go ahead and assume that there is a very small minority of you who actually find that interesting, so on with the story.
The highlights of the main temple are the giant incense coils that are suspended from the ceiling over an open space lined by red lanterns. Each of the altars around the perimeter of the temple is flanked by flower beds of sorts on which to prop up incense stick offerings. Incense sticks can be bought from a small stand inside the temple, manned by a very smiley local who will also suggest lighting the sticks in groups of three as per Buddhist tradition (one for Buddha, one for Buddha’s teachings and one for the wider Buddhist community). The burning of incense is a ritual taken extremely seriously here, so if allergies ail you, you probably won’t be able to spend too long inside.
Once you’ve had your moment of peace, head back out to bustling Hollywood Road and spend some time browsing the amazing antique shops that lie in wait just nearby.