Creative Anthropology

Two months ago, I wrote about a site in Hong Kong where they are currently building the largest statue of Guanyin in the world (click here to read that story again). I said that doing anthropological research sometimes requires being creative to get the information you want to get about places that you find interesting.

Well, sometimes you also just have to be a little lucky…

Last Saturday, I had an interview with a 38 year old Buddhist believer. We decided to meet in Tai Mei Tuk, a small village close to Pover Clove Reservoir; a place where on Saturday afternoon many Chinese gather to barbecue, hike or ride bicycles. Shortly after meeting the man he told me that he worked in a newly constructed monastery nearby, close to Tai Po. “Do you mean the monastery next to the large Guanyin statue?”, I asked him. “Yes”, he said, “I am the executive manager there”.

The following half an hour, we mainly talked about the monastery and the statue, and about the controversial stories I read about the building of the site. In the few English articles I could find on the internet I found that most people are negative about the building of the huge site in a quiet area where people are still living peacefully in small villages. People also don’t trust the fact that the richest Chinese man in the world (in Hong Kong knows as ‘THE tycoon’) has initiated the project, and speculations have risen that he is merely building the site to be buried there one day.

All the negative stories I read were falsified during the conversation I had with the Buddhist believer. He assured me that the site will not be a touristic spot (they are thinking of limiting the amount of visiters per day to only 100), but that it will be a place in Hong Kong where Buddhist practitioners can go to for one or more days to escape from their busy lives. A place where they can meditate, contemplate, and relax. A place where they can visit the enormously big Guanyin statue and be amazed by the peaceful look on her face and the tranquility that surrounds her.

A place that sounds perfect to me.

Sometimes you just have to be lucky and hope that you meet the right people in the right places. The monastery will unofficially open at the end of June this year. The official big opening will take place in 2014. Now I’m just hoping I will be lucky enough to be able to visit the site if I can.

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One thought on “Creative Anthropology

  1. Pingback: Standing at the bottom of her feet, looking up | Religious anthropology in Hong Kong

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