Ghosts around every corner

Hong Kong incense _

This is the lunar month when hungry ghosts are said wander about Hong Kong. They lurk in shadowy patches of trees, just under the surface of large bodies of water, down gloomy alleys and even on darkened balconies imparting negative energy on drying clothes.

Running through Tai Po last week, I passed a quiet street corner bristling with magenta incense sticks stuck into styrofoam-packed take-away meals. These were food offerings left out to satisfy any wandering, restless spirits.

Coincidentally, my initial weeks back in Hong Kong have felt like entering a ghostly realm. I know this place and yet I pass familiar houses where friends once lived that now stand empty. A strange dream-like sensation creeps up my spine when riding a familiar red tiled escalator out of a MTR station. I frequently pass people who are surprised and startled to see me around my old haunts.

It can feel like I am a wandering ghost.

But I am just a confused mortal in the midsts of shifting between worlds. Hearty dim sum meals seem to be helping and day-by-day I am starting to feel less see-through and more grounded.

If before the end of the lunar month, however, you do see me meandering past in the evening gloom looking ‘not all there,’ there is no need to fear me. I can be easily appeased with offerings of char siu bao and wine.


With thanks to Bluebalu for reminding me that it is the time of the Hungry Ghost Festival. More about the festival can also be found in this recent South China Morning Post article.

7 responses to “Ghosts around every corner

  1. Oh, what I would give right now for a proper Chinese takeaway, even one festooned with incense sticks!

    I know it’s not the same, but am also feeling a bit of a loose end since returning to Toledo after my summer break. I’ve lost five good friend this year. They’ve moved on to good jobs abroad (am happy for them!) and although I’m still in touch with all of them, it’s not the same as being able to say “hey, let’s meet up for a drink tonight!”.

  2. One thing that is severely lacking in Phuket is good Chinese food. Have some for me! 🙂 And don’t whistle after dark, or look over your shoulder after dark, or leave your clothes out to dry after dark. Pretty much everything is off limits after dark I guess. Hahah. I remember when I lived in Taipei and I would just chuckle at all the superstitions during this time of year.

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