Friday, 15 January 2010

Yikes - I See DEAD People!

I wandered off to the back alleys of the local hood a few days ago and it suddenly became extremely morbid in a bizarre sort of way.  Suddenly I was in 'Deadsville' - It was basically 2 blocks of coffin shops and wreath flower shops. In Hong Kong there's an area call 'Sneaker Street' where every shop for 2 blocks sells sneakers. This was the equivalent for coffins and urns.

None of the fancy funeral parlors, that are common in the west.  These were tiny little shops, one next to the other, stacked from floor to ceiling with coffins of different shapes and styles.

The Chinese take death very seriously (as well they should) and people are traditionally buried on a hill.  This is typically in a coffin in a graveyard or ashes in an urn in an isolated tomb like the pic below.

Typically the corner shop of each block was a flower shop and they were busy creating elaborate ornate flower wreaths

This is the kind of Chinese takeout you don't look forward to ordering. 

I think this coffin was going to meet someone who met their maker - If you look closer, it's going the wrong way up a one way street - maybe towards the light?!

Tags: ..death Hong Kong dead Chinese coffins, urns..

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Nicole January 15, 2010 6:22 am  

One has to love Asia and Asians, such practical people, no?
You don't have to drive from shop to shop, you just stroll along and place your bid ;)

I didn't know the Chines do the mountain graves.
The Koreans do (did?) it too.

Maya January 15, 2010 2:01 pm  

I don't think I would want to live in a situation where I had to walk down the coffin street everyday. Can isolated tombs be anywhere? The wreaths remind me of what you see in Mexico.

Baino January 15, 2010 4:18 pm  

Isn't that bizarre to us? Everything about funeral parlours is behind closed doors and secretive. Very strange as are the shapes of some of those things. The Chinese are mad about flowers. When shops open here, whether they're hairdressers or groceries, if the proprietor is Chinese, they're absolutely swathed in the most beautiful wreaths and arrangements.

nick January 15, 2010 5:21 pm  

Very interesting. Are you saying they don't have undertakers, funerals are all DIY, they just pick up a coffin, shove the body in and take it to the tomb? That would be a lot cheaper and simpler than the elaborate pomp and ceremony they have in the West.

Stevo January 15, 2010 7:43 pm  

I believe the genesis of this, which is seen all over Asia (many stores of the same type in the same area) was started so shopkeepers could keep tabs on each other. ie. Nobody could lower their prices too much. I ran into a similar Casket area in Bangkok.

You should take a wander over to Hong Kong Cemetery, near Happy Valley. It dates to the 1860s and features, among other things, monuments to the brave British soldiers and sailors that fought for the right to addict another nation of opium. Great headstones, very gothic place.

Chai Wan also has a number of cemeteries on the mountainsides. The Sai Wan War Cemetery is there, as well as a Buddhist and Catholic boneyards.

Quickroute January 17, 2010 10:20 am  

@ Nicole: Yes - Hill Graves are the norm here

@ Maya: Bit depressing indeed - but fascinating

@ Baino: yep - all out in the open here - hard for us to understand for sure
@ Nick: I never seen a traditional funeral with line of cars ,hearse etc so I think it is DIY

@ Stevo: I must check those places out cheers

Fida January 19, 2010 11:43 am  

Asians are indeed far more practical than we are. Nothing in life is as certain as death, yet we kind of deny that fact.

Quickroute January 20, 2010 6:49 am  

@ Fida: Wise words woman - wise words!

AngelaCorrias January 20, 2010 8:33 am  

Such a cheerful little street! Hard to admit, but yeah, they are being just practical. In the West we have a sort of taboo talking about death, but it's all part of life.

Great blog, glad I found it!

Quickroute January 24, 2010 5:26 am  

@ Angela: It's true we try and avoid the 'death' topic - not sure why - when yer dead - yer fed!

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