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Quest For Harmony On The Pearl River Delta (Images, VIDEO)

Whether or not we identify it, all of us seek a balance between the shifting parts of our lives. We strive for agreement between our bodily and spiritual worlds. But, too often we find ourselves incapable of summoning this state of being. Why

There may be a place whose individuals have been on a by no means-ending quest to attain a concord between life’s jagged puzzle items. And a few consider they have found its secrets and techniques.

Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong: three pearls in a single exquisite setting. Every distinct, yet bound together by a cultural veneration of harmony. Simply as a wick wants a flame, some of us can’t stay without exploring our existence, and i inevitably find myself turning to the East and the wisdom of the Ancients looking for the roots of the human need for harmony.

Harmony implies balance and the flexibility to combine totally different elements into a satisfying unity. It incorporates the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang, opposite forces that come together to type a complete.

Chinese language philosophers and religious leaders have long honored harmony as a perfect. Confucius, the good Chinese language thinker, spoke of “harmony with out uniformity.” He taught that the world is full of differences and contradictions, however that righteous people ought to attempt to steadiness them to realize an important equilibrium.

Taoists believe that by following practices that achieve stability in each day life, they gain harmony with the universe. And the Buddha mentioned that for the enlightened one, harmony is his joy, his delight and his love.

Bounce to my video dispatch from the Pearl River Delta
In Hong Kong the rounded shoulders of tradition find poise and meaning with the new and modern. In Macau western sensibilities integrate with jap aesthetics. And in Guangdong, many are rediscovering historic attitudes about integrating human workings with the pure world.

All three are inextricably linked as star players on China’s historic commerce routes. Scoring the eastern edge of the Pearl River Delta is Hong Kong. At its most genuine, Hong Kong projects a vibrant duality, an ambition of opposites in concert, the special elements of harmony. Here, views of steel and glass pointing to the future rest against low stone temples coiling with the incense of deeply rooted traditions.

Hong Kong’s fortunes are due in no small half to the deep, protected waters of its harbor. And no historic ship surpassed in dimension and technological prowess the Chinese language “junk.” For almost two millennia, these ships harnessed the power of the wind to sail as far away as Japan and India.

At present, Hong Kong has emerged as one of many world’s busiest Island ports. Mixing water craft of all sizes and shapes, the scene stirs a peculiar pot of harmony: the triumph of kinetic energy over chaos.

No question the streets of Hong Kong are energizing. But instinctively we know for our effectively-being we have to each engage and withdraw.

And when the power of downtown reaches a pitch, people retreat to the quiet and solitude of Hong Kong’s outlying islands.

On Lamma Island, the traces of tension soften. Lamma in Chinese language means “the southern tree department,” and it reaches like the limbs of a sapling into a mural of blue waves. There’s a Chinese concept known as “Double Happiness” that celebrates the symmetry and stability of love. And on Lamma, where no cars are allowed, the easy act of riding on two pedals or walking on two toes, appears to carry double the relaxation, twice the joy.

In relation to food, Hong Kong’s culinary choices are like Chinese opera — rich, colorful, and hypnotic. Cantonese cuisine prizes freshness above all, and “wet markets” spill throughout the town, unruly, particular person, swelling with slithering, flopping, gyrating flavors. With thousands and thousands of eateries, life in Hong Kong seems merely the interlude between meals.

A temple of a unique type could be reached by a glass-bottomed cable automobile that flies over Lantau, the biggest of Hong Kong’s 200 islands. It is the positioning of the Po Lin Monastery. Here, amid the plumes of incense, you possibly can virtually inhale the spirituality. Buddhism was launched into China from India virtually 2,000 years in the past. And the Chinese then mingled traditional beliefs, with Buddhist rules of peace and acceptance.

The Po Lin temple is a spot of meditation, an opportunity to acknowledge limitations and seek enlightenment. Mysteries that perplex understanding appear to assemble here: concepts about suffering and compassion, mindfulness and eternity.

Towering overall, the enormous Buddha sits in blaring quietude. To stand in his shadow is to surrender the din of life’s chatter to moments of awe and silence.

Although a mere 40 miles from Hong Kong by ferry, Macau seems half a world away.
Some say it’s tough to be two things directly: playful and critical, homespun and refined, cosmopolitan and relaxed, sturdy and exquisitely wrought. Macau begs to differ.

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a Particular Administrative Area inside China, giving it a high diploma of autonomy. However its historical past takes a special twist. Long earlier than Hong Kong was born, fisherman and farmers discovered this spot at the mouth of the Pearl River a strategic repair to arrange shop. And while Hong Kong’s trade historical past was certain up with England’s, Macau’s has hyperlinks that stretch to southern Europe, with the mercantile explorers of Portugal.

For centuries, Macau was a strategic stopping level for Silk Road traders, who hauled goods from close by Guangdong province onto ships sure for eager shoppers in the West.

Within the 16th century, Portuguese brokers acquired the go-forward from mandarins in Guangdong to take management of this delta gateway. These Westerners ferried shiploads of their tradition right here, much of which survives immediately. Mediterranean sensibilities blended effortlessly with the native Chinese tradition, dignifying a type of harmony that became not solely agreeable, but irresistible.

A number of miles from the historic center, the A-Ma Temple is one of town’s oldest shrines, and it attracts worshippers from all the main Chinese religions. Like so much of the architecture here, this temple has a duality of function: It is both a beacon to sailors and a warning to evil spirits.

The temple honors A-Ma, the seafarers’ goddess, and is the inspiration for the name Macau.
Legend tells that a poor girl was in search of passage to the upper Pearl River Delta, but none of the rich boatmen would assist her. When a lowly fisherman lastly provided her a journey, an enormous storm swept in, sinking all of the boats besides the one holding the girl. When she landed in Macau, she vanished, solely to reappear right here, in the form of the goddess A-Ma.

With the insight of history, we will distinguish the strands that came together to kind this city, but who might have predicted the weavings, the wealthy tapestries of its fortunes at this time

A drive across the Macau-Taipa Bridge transports to the islands of Taipa and Coloane, cradling concrete and crystal that herald the longer term, as well as hand-hewn villages that summon the previous.

The drowsy village of Coloane, as soon as a haven for pirates, echoes with tokens of its maritime legacy. On the waterfront, rows of dried fish hang in anticipation of passing shoppers. The baroque church of St. Francis Xaviar still waits patiently for its missionary namesake, who died of fever on his approach here.

Ok, this is a personal suggestion of harmonic taste: the Portuguese egg tarts in Lord Stow’s Bakery. Lord Stowe, a Brit dwelling in Macau, was not a lord, but his clients called him that for the noble tarts he invented, an original variation of these served in dim sum eating places and European bakeries. His model is, I need to say, much more decadent than these, with its wickedly rich custard filling in buttery pastry shells. First concocted in 1989, Lord Stow’s Bakeries now promote about three,000 egg tarts a day.

The individuals of Macau have always regarded past for his or her livelihood: first to the sea, and at present to guests who flock right here for the resorts, exhibits, gaming homes, eateries and history.

Like its inspiration, Las Vegas, the Cotai strip is a dazzling parade of casinos and high-finish accommodations, built on reclaimed land, a mirage wavering right into a fashionable oasis.

A simulation celebration of the splendor of Outdated Europe, the Venetian Macau is huge sufficient to carry ninety Boeing 747s. With three,000 rooms, more than 30 eating places and 1,000,000 sq. feet of shops, that is the place easterners and westerners alike come to wine and dine, stay and play. Running via the heart of the resort is a recreation of Venice’s Grand Canal, the place gondoliers serenade passengers past the Italianate facades. Large-scale replicas of famed Venice landmarks, such as the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square, float seductively by. It is the outdated riff come true: If you wish to see how lovely my child, you need to see her image.

Unfold alongside the southernmost tip of the mainland and rimmed by more than two thousand miles of coastline, Guangdong Province has long served as the threshold to northern China and its window to the skin world.

As a significant stretch of the historic Silk Street, this was as soon as a primary path for international merchants venturing to trade with China. Simply as in centuries previous, when items flowed by way of this province feeding the port cities of Macau and Hong Kong, Guangdong’s role as a nerve center of commerce continues as we speak. The capital metropolis Guangzhou, once identified to westerners as “Canton,” is the third largest city in China and reigns over Pearl River commerce. It is also a springboard to a few of the most beautiful natural surroundings in China.

Just a few hours north of Guangzhou, near the city of Shaoguan, lie the nuanced curves of Nan Hua Temple and the extreme landscapes of Danxia Mountain Park.

Nan Hua Temple was built in honor of a monk named Hui Neng, the founder of the southern sect of Zen Buddhism in China and a revered determine in Chinese language history. As a poor illiterate peasant boy, Hui Neng achieved enlightenment when he heard a man reciting a line from Hindu scripture. The road he heard was, “Depending upon nothing, you must discover your individual mind.”

Chinese language Buddhist temples are totally different from these in India, Japan or other Buddhist nations. They’re generally modeled after the Chinese imperial palaces, with a front corridor, great who built the stone heads on easter island corridor and again hall, every holding different representations of the Buddha — and all integrated with each other and with the pure surroundings.

The stomach of the earth has bulged, wrenched and kinked in Danxia Mountain Park. There are spirits clad in emerald forest and red stone. A part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the almost 70,000 acres of the park are nature’s nice sculpture garden. This otherworldly panorama, trying more just like the contours of the moon than an earthbound park, is enveloped by a warm, humid local weather, which helps conserve nice stretches of sub-tropical forest. Within this sanctuary greater than four hundred rare or threatened plant and animal species thrive in evergreen protection.

A scattering of web sites fan out round Shaoguan, nearly unknown to westerners, however deeply rewarding to those that seek them out. There’s historic Zhuji Lane to the northeast, and the Ancient Buddha Rock to the northwest.

A thousand years ago, Historic Zhuji Lane became affluent on account of its prime location on a buying and selling route between China’s central plains and the south. No footstep ever fell within the unsuitable place here. The cobblestone street is lined with ancestral halls, relic properties and historical temples. Based who built the stone heads on easter island on folklore, the Zhang Chang household lived together here for seven generations and obtained a special award from the Tang Emperor for exhibiting such nice respect for household.

Enormous numbers of Chinese language who emigrated overseas came from southern China. And since so many of their descendants hint their roots to Zhuji Lane, it is change into recognized because the “hometown of the Cantonese.”

The marvels of the bodily and spiritual worlds merge within the Historic Buddha Rock and in the cave system that sprawls below. I used to be a passionate caver when young, probing the limestone recesses of America’s Japanese Seaboard, but I’m unprepared for depth of awe this enormous grotto evokes. It was formed over a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of years, expanding right into a sequence of linking rooms and corridors that stretch for thirteen,000 sq. feet. While above the summer heat swelters close to one hundred levels Fahrenheit, here the yr-spherical temperature hangs at a cushty 67 levels. Limestone caves are formed by pure acid in rain that seeps by the bottom. The acidic water reacts chemically with limestone bedrock, gradually resulting in this wonderwork of flowing stone: nature’s own home of quiet veneration.

Many looking for enlightenment via compassion journey to the Buddhist temple carved in the cavern rim. It’s devoted to Guanyin or the “Goddess of Mercy.”

The Goddess’ full identify interprets to: “Observing the Cries of the World.” Her followers imagine that she quells suffering and brings harmony and peace to all in her gaze. Some Buddhists believe after they die, Guanyin places them in the guts of a lotus flower and sends them off to the “Land of Bliss.”

Sheer sandstone partitions claw to the clouds from Guangdong’s Grand Canyon. At almost a thousand toes deep and 9 miles long, this is for me a gaping call to journey. The canyon’s diadem of glory is the Chengtou Waterfall, which fonts from a excessive ravine like an unleashed dragon.

This means a lot to me. For seven seasons I was a information by way of America’s Grand Canyon, and now any place that shares that title, calls mine. It’s a reward to be ready to seek a friendship between perception and place, a soothing of the tensions between the curves and straight strains of our lives.

Greater than 1,300 stone steps, educated out of the savagery of the craggy cliffs, form a stairway for those willing to test their mortal might and descend into the dark canyon depths. How can I resist This appears a pure place to replicate on life’s grand questions, as Taoists do, by internal meditation and outer remark.

“Above all, prize harmony,” taught Confucius. And Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong offer tantalizing clues to the wisdom of the ancients and signal posts away from confusion. Whether it is the aesthetic beauty reflected in art, the straightforward rhythms of day by day life or the equilibrium found in nature, it’s the flexibility to search out stability that makes life complete.

Whether consciously or not, all of us long for a harmony that may quietly return us to ourselves.
In response to the Tao Te Ching: “The sage would not management the world; he’s in harmony with the world.”

Garment-Dyed Cotton Tracksuit In BlackWatch the brand new PBS particular, “Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Goal: The Pearl River Delta-Quest for Harmony” airing now nationally. Check local listings.

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