There’s a dense smoke wafting through the air, spiraling higher and higher towards the tops of the surrounding buildings. You can actually see and smell the smoke long before you finally reach Hong Kong’s beautiful Man Mo Temple.
Once you arrive at the temple you’re met with the thick and dizzying scent of incense, making your eyes itch and your head ache. The surrounding streets are filled with noisy traffic on hot and humid Hong Kong mornings. The atmosphere is far from what you would expect of a place of worship.
The world seems to slow down as you enter the temple. There is a strong silence inside, and for some reason the incense and smoke are actually less concentrated indoors. The temple is filled with shades of red and gold, glistening in the glow of small lanterns.
The temple is devoted to the god of literature Man Tai and the martial god Mo Tai. There are several podiums scattered around the temple devoted to specific deities, with people bowing and quietly chanting in front of them, perhaps bringing flowers or fruit as a sort of sacrifice.
The sense of serenity may leave you as soon as you exit the temple and brace the hectic streets of Hong Kong, but the smell of smoke will stay with you for a long time.