Saturday, June 9, 2012

Clean and graveyards (This week's Photo Hunt themes)

There's no doubt about it: when out hiking in Hong Kong, sooner or later, you will come across a grave or more, and pass by or pass through a graveyard.  Often, you will find these graves and graveyards to be located on hillsides, many of which face a body of water (usually the sea but I've also seen graves facing out to reservoirs, dams and other bodies of freshwater).  And usually, even if they are old, they look to be pretty well maintained and clean.

In my first year in Hong Kong, I used to occasionally go hiking with a Chinese woman who would get upset whenever our mutual (German) friend and I would take pictures of particularly impressive individual graves we spotted or almost invariably well-maintained and clean graveyards we were passing by or through.  The impression I got was that she thought that we were being disrespectful and disturbing the dead by photographing their resting place.    

In my defence, I don't think that I am likely to go click crazy whenever I spot a grave or graveyard -- be they clean or not -- the way that I do when I spot such as an interesting critter or more, or come across splendid vistas.  But as evidenced by this week's entry for Sandi's and Gattina's Photo Hunt, it's undeniably the case that I am indeed guilty of going ahead and taking photos of graves and graveyards on my hiking excursions. 

One reason stems from my continued fascination with how -- despite there being a preponderant of Hong Kongers whose preference is to steer clear of final resting places of people, particularly those they are not related to -- quite a few hiking trails really are laid out so close to graves and graveyards.  Another is that, in all honesty, it really does seem like many a grave or graveyard is laid out in a choice spot for viewing the surrounding scenery.

Traditionally, the Overseas Chinese in places like Malaysia sought to have final resting places on high land overlooking the sea.  (Even more ideally, these final resting places would look towards China, with the thought being that they would be able to look across the sea all the way back to their ancestral land.)  Although Hong Kong is (now) part of China, it seems that there's some elements of that thinking behind choices of ideal final resting place.  In any event, the result is -- as I think the third photo in this entry particularly shows -- many a grave and graveyard being located in places where the living enjoy great views (along with the apparently still seeing dead occupants of those final resting places)!


Anonymous said...

Normally I wouldn't intentionally visit a graveyard but if it's along the trail, I wouldn't mind stopping by and say a prayer or two for the souls.

magiceye said...


eastcoastlife said...

I am fascinated with the hillside cementery in HK after watching movies and dramas showing it in certain scenes. I don't usually visit cemetery when I am on holiday but I would not rule out the possibility of visiting this unique place.

I will never be able to buy a resting place like this in tiny Singapore. All available land is reserved for the living. :P

MaR said...

I never take pictures of graveyards..because I never visit them! unless they are on the way. The hillside cemetery is beautiful and peaceful.
The crosses I pictured have names but no dates, I assume they are priests from the monastery but couldn't find any information.
Happy weekend!

Gattina said...

It's interesting to see how the graveyards look like in so many countries !

YTSL said...

Hi ewok1993 --

As you would have seen from the top photo in this entry, sometimes, the hiking trail really goes by -- and even through -- a graveyard here in Hong Kong!

Hi magiceye --

I hope so! ;b

Hi EastCoastLife --

It's not just one cemetery -- there are MANY hillside cemeteries in Hong Kong.

For Singapore, are you saying no one is allowed to be buried anymore in the country? :O

Hi Mar --

Actually, it's hillside cemeterieS -- all 3 pictures are of 3 different graveyards. ;b

Hi Gattina --

Indeed! I have to admit to gasping a bit when I saw your choice of Photo Hunt theme for this week. In any case, I hope quite a few people WILL play this week. :)

Trekcapri said...

Hi YTSL I also find it interesting to see how other countries have their graveyards. A place with a view across the sea or along the hillside among the trees seem like very tranquil and restful places.

Have a great weekend.

EDS said...

Interesting entries you got here.. Thanks for sharing! :)

Precious said...

Great entries! The cemetery really gave me an eerie feeling upon seeing them..

YTSL said...

Hi Trekcapri --

It's definitely been interesting to see the range of graveyards featured on blogs playing Gattina's Photo Hunt this week. Hope there will be more! :)

Hi EDS --

Entries... does that mean you checked out other entries on this blog? If so, thank you extra much! ;b

Hi Precious --

If you find yourself alone in a cemetery, it can be a bit eerie. Fortunately, I pretty much hike with someone else all the time! :)

LifeRamblings said...

i like your last photo very much. the graveyards overlooking the sea makes the cemetery a wonderful and peaceful resting place.

Susan Demeter said...

Beautiful hillside cemetery! I am learning so much this week about a topic I love :) Cemeteries are wonderful places for me to reflect and even meditate on life. I enjoy visiting them and learning about their history.

Carver said...

Great shots and interesting post. I don't think it's disrespectful to take photographs at graveyards. The only thing I avoid is taking shots near people visiting the remains of their relatives.

Annie said...

I've never seen a cemetery on a hillside before. It's a beautiful location. When I'm laid to rest, I don't mind if people take photos. :)

About the cemetery in Venice, it wasn't a special occasion. I think Italians just keep lots of flowers on their loved ones graves all the time.

Hope you have a nice weekend.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...


You've cleaned up this week :-)

Luna Miranda said...

fascinating narrative. is there a reason why Chinese cemeteries face a body of water? in the mountainous areas of the Philippines, especially where there are tribal communities, graveyards are on hillsides, roadsides and even at the backyard.

Sandra said...

I am amazed with the cemetery on the hill. I too would stop and take a photo if I came across it on a hike. The view is outstanding. Thank you for sharing. Happy weekend.


peppylady (Dora) said...

Do you know why the grave-yard face a body of water? People face east when there buried...It mainly because of a Christian culture and the second coming of Christ...I'll just leave it at that.
Our main grave-yard Grandview is well taken care of but there smaller ones around that don't get the attention as the larger ones do...mine is up and the coffee is on.

YTSL said...

Hi Life Ramblings --

Thank you -- I like that photo too. And yes, I think too that there is a peaceful element to it due in part to the sea being visible in it and from that graveyard.

Hi Sue --

I'm wondering: Have you been to a columbarium? I find them really interesting too -- and for some reason, more personal feeling even than many a cemetery.

Hi Carver --

Thanks and I agree with your viewpoint. I definitely would not take photos of people visiting their dead. Also, while hiking, I came across a burial. Would never take a photo of that either!

Hi Annie --

There are many cemeteries on hillsides in place like Hong Kong and Malaysia. They are so normal to me I hadn't realized their location was unusual! :O

Re that cemetery in Venice on you entry: very nice re those flowers being that regularly. :)

Hi Sandi --

I'm glad you think so -- since if anything, this week's Photo Hunt entry much more directly fitted Gattina's chosen theme. :)

Hi Luna Miranda --

I think it's to do with feng shui principles. Many villages (like Lai Chi Wo in Hong Kong's northeast, which I've blogged about) traditionally are protected by way of having a hill behind them and have fertile land with ample water supply in front of them.

Hi Sandra --

FYI, the three photos are actually all of three different graveyards on hills... In any case you're welcome and hope you have a good weekend too. ;b

Hi peppylady --

Re your question: please see my answer to Luna Miranda above.

"People face east when there buried" -- you mean Christian people? Didn't know that. Interesting!

Anonymous said...

It must be a cultural thng - I've never heard of someone being upset about graveyards being photographed - clean or otherwise. I've taken some really cool photos in them over the years.

YTSL said...

Hi JDeQ --

I think it's definitely a cultural thing -- and in my experience, particularly Chinese and Hong Konger... I think some people probably are even horrified I have pictures of graves and graveyards on my blogs... but there you are -- different strokes, for different (cultures') folks! ;b

Karin said...

Am a Christian but never heard of Christians being buried facing East - I don't think this is true. Muslims face the East, namely Mecca when buried. Nice pics, thank you. Am visiting Hong Kong next week.

YTSL said...

Hi Karin --

My impression is that neither Christians nor Muslims are buried facing a certain compass direction. I'm more inclined to believe the Muslims are buried facing Mecca bit -- but please bear in mind that Mecca's not always in the east for Muslims... E.g., like you'll find out when visiting Hong Kong, there are Muslims here too. ;b