Personal Journeys


January 26, 2003|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Hong Kong's oasis for man and bird

By Jerry Diaz


A typically warm, humid day in Hong Kong called for a cooling ride on the Star Ferry, still cheap at only about 25 cents American. From the Kowloon Dock, my wife and I boarded the clean, modern subway to ride a few stops to the Prince Edward station.

Because we wanted to savor the sights and sounds of Hong Kong, we wandered the teeming streets for a while, until we found ourselves in the Flower Market area, where narrow streets are crammed with vendors offering all kinds of colorful and exotic blooms.

After examining the shops and stalls and admiring the artful displays, we resumed our undirected stroll. In the distance, we could hear many birds chirping. Intrigued, we followed the sound and were guided to the Bird Garden, a public park reserved for bird enthusiasts.

Passing through the archway, we entered a cacophony of whistles, chirps, peeps, twitters, squeaks and beeps -- a supermarket of sound and color. Along all sides of the enclosed plaza, and in the middle, were hundreds of hanging cages containing a variety of feathered pets.

Most of the birds were tiny finches, but there were also parrots and parakeets. Birdseed and live food -- grasshoppers, crickets and worms -- were displayed along with birds, and everything was for sale.

Many men, mostly middle-aged and elderly, brought their pet birds here for an outing, hanging their small wooden cages so their pets could see and call to the other birds. Birds with clipped wings were allowed to wander around as if they owned the place. The men sat on stools and chairs and watched while their pets socialized.

As the sun grew hotter, we found a cool spot in the shade and watched the passing parade of birds. Other Western tourists drifted in and out. Children moved from cage to cage coaxing the birds to sing. We reluctantly left this oasis to venture back out into the hubbub of Kowloon.

Jerry Diaz lives in Towson.

My Best Shot

Kevin Palma, Elkridge

A center of energy

I was fortunate to experience rain in the desert during a visit to Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, Ariz. It was amazing to see how green the valley got after a shower. Later, the sight of the moon rising was an added bonus. Cathedral Rock (shown) is said by believers in New Age philosophy to be one of many "vortex" points, or centers of cosmic energy, in the Sedona area.

Readers Recommend

U.S. 101, Oregon

Harry P. Roscoe, Palmyra, Pa.

U.S. 101 hugs the coast of Oregon. Driving north from Florence to Yachats recently, I caught my first sight of the Heceta Head Lighthouse, which has stood guard over the coastline since 1894. The view was breathtaking. It has to be one of the most beautiful vistas in the United States.

Heron Island, Australia

Paul Bade, Ellicott City

Typically, the first full moon in October marks the beginning of the egg-laying season for turtles on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. As luck would have it, while my wife and I were on our honeymoon, we happened to be on Heron Island at that time. You don't want to bother the turtles until they start laying their eggs, because they might turn back to the ocean. But, once they are committed, it's not a problem to approach them. Heron Island has a wonderful resort with activities including snorkeling and reef walking.

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Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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