Richard Voice-Over: Join us for a journey through a city that blazes like a great pageant of light; a land of giants in both steel and dreams; a place that pushes the limits of the possible, and not so much predicts the future, as invents it.

Richard On-Camera: What makes Hong Kong so prosperous, so energized, so vital, so cutting edge? What makes it the city of the century, the city of tomorrow?

R VO: It’s not geography...there are spectacular harbors and islands, too many to count, that never spawned such a city. It’s not latitude; many lesser cities share its position on the globe. As Rudyard Kipling said, "Hong Kong beats into a hamlet" other great cities of the world.

R OC: My quest is to discover what unique forces drive this city to virtuosity and greatness.

R VO: Hong Kong’s uninhibited energy is clear as rice its corridors of commerce, in its seething alleys of ancient apothecaries, in its earthly rhythms and promethean spirit. What cultural undercurrent runs through this miracle city? What age-old traditions galvanize the fierce devotion to work and family here? To what can we attribute their longevity, health, their unparalleled triumphs against enormous odds, even their seemingly paradoxical success with environmental protection? Could the answer lie in a legend as old as the land itself?

ANNOUNCER VO: Adventures with Purpose...they not only quicken the pulse and fire the synapses, but are also journeys of enlightenment and discovery...odysseys that make a difference. Our guide is Richard Bangs, the father of modern adventure travel….leader of 35 first descents of rivers around the globe…a mountain climber and renowned author, Richard brings a lifetime of experiences to Adventures with Purpose.

RB VO: Quite a few years ago I wrote a book about exploration called Riding the Dragon’s Back, and in it I featured the Hong Kong born explorer, Wong How Man. Now, twenty-years later we are about to be reunited at his home on a scenic bay on the south side of Hong Kong island.

RB: How Man, boy it’s been a while. Good to see you. You live in the right place at the base of The Dragon’s Back.

HM: OK, let’s go in and have some hot tea. It’s a little slippery.

RB: Everybody puzzles over why Hong Kong has become so successful.

HM: Personally I feel it’s a number of factors, both historical and geographical. We benefit both from being a former British colony—the East and West—we were able to take the best of both worlds and rise from that. We also benefit from Confucianism, Buddhism, many of our mythologies, as well as Western religion. And Hong Kong people became extremely flexible because they were bending with history and very adaptative.

RB: It seems that as a symbol the dragon seems to be the one that’s most prominent and dynamic. Where ever you go in HK you see images of dragons.

HM: Oh that’s right. You know any festival—the dragon dance became such an important part of it. And I think that you can speak with some air of pride when you say I’m born in the year of the dragon which is the sign of the emperor as well. Certainly the dragon holds a very special place for people in HK.

RB VO: My old friend sends me off as a pilgrim across the island studded waters to central Hong Kong, this Asian powerhouse, this global nerve center of commerce and trade.

RB VO: The region of Hong Kong takes in not only the island of Hong Kong, but the Kowloon Peninsula across Victoria Harbor. Later, we will sail to the ecological preserve, the Hong Kong National Geopark and to Lantau Island.

RB VO: Hong Kong’s allure is unquestionable and unanswerable, from its cloud-busting buildings and exuberant festivals, to its serene shorelines and roar of nighttime neon. It began as a collection of quiet fishing villages, but found its voice and métier 150 years ago as a nexus for trade between East and West. After World War II, this sparking dynamo fired into the financial capitol of Asia. While the population is overwhelmingly Chinese, the fusion of styles and sensibilities from around the world makes this an intoxicating cocktail of cultures. Here more intimately than anywhere else, civilizations have been thrown together. But two fundamentals stay constant yet in healthy balance: the reverence for tradition, and the fierce pursuit of prosperity.

RB VO: To understand the heart of Hong Kong one must 'look to the Dragon.’

RB OC: So, I've come here to participate in one of the most dazzling festivals on earth, Chinese New Year, when the vital, flowing energies of the Dragon inhabit the jungles of the imagination.

RB VO: In the philosophy that imbues this place, much is made of the rhythm of life, the cycle of the seasons, birth and death, day and night. Everything in the universe is made up of opposites, foils that come together to make up the whole. Yin is the female principle, night, darkness, gentleness, while Yang represents the male principle, day, light, and power. When the New Year arrives, yin energy gives way to bold new yang energy. The cycle begins again.

RB VO: Heralding the New Year and the coming of spring is the mythological beast associated with power and authority, the very symbol of Chinese culture—the dragon. Of all the animals of the Chinese zodiac, the dragon is the only mythological creature. How did this beast become fixed in the imagination of the people? How did it influence them?

RB VO: I contacted the University of Hong Kong for some answers.

R: Well let me ask you this; Feng Shui and yin yang are all about balance, is the dragon about balance?

Yeewan Koon, Fine Arts Department, University of Hong Kong: Yes. The dragon—or most cultural symbols in Chinese society—are about balance, not really about good or bad. It really is about striving for balance. The dragon is also. You can have a yin dragon; you can have a yang dragon. And it has been said that the dragon scales—half of it is yin scales and half of it is yang scales. So it is always about balance.

RB VO: “Here be Dragons,” was an inscription on old European maps of the China coast. The area was unknown, and the unknown was to be feared. In Western mythology, the dragon was a destroyer, a force of evil, a gruesome monster that represented mapmakers’ apprehensions about unexplored places. But the dragon of the East has always been a benevolent creature, a genius of strength and goodness.

Roslyn Hammers, Fine Arts Department, University of Hong Kong: The dragon is a composite of certain qualities and aspects that are associated with different kinds of animals. For example, it has these wonderful whiskers on its mouth. And those whiskers are supposed to be the whiskers of a carp. And it’s got—of course—a long fish like body. And that is supposed to be of course a reference to its aquatic nature and it fish-likeness. It has these claws, too and five-toed if it is an Imperial dragon, and these claws are supposed to be sharp and pointy perhaps like a bear. So you can see these qualities of other animals that are being combined in a very positive way to really amplify how powerful the dragon….

RB: He’s got the best of all creatures.

Roz: He’s got the best of all things: wings on his back like a bird to fly around.

RB: Who wouldn’t want to be a dragon? He can do anything.

Roz: Yes exactly. It’s a very strong figure.

RB OC: The irrepressible energy of the people and their dragon spirit combine and combust in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. Everyone is out buying gifts and decorations, food and flowers.

RB VO: I’m on the scent. There’s a fragrance in the air; strolling the flower market is like writing a poem, or saying a prayer. They say the more blossoms a plant produces in a home during Chinese New Year, the wealthier that household will become. Orchids, peach trees, pussy-willow are all well-disposed plants for Chinese New Year, as is the Snap Dragon. It doesn’t breathe fire; only beauty, and secrets.

RB VO: Whether displaying a fiery red banner on a storefront or a neon riot against the cubist skyline, Hong Kong stand on ceremony at this time of year. Drum-skins are stretched and tested, the loud beats of the drum and the deafening crash of cymbals, together with the faces of dancing lions and dragons, have the power to evict evil spirits.

RB VO: The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals, each representing a different year, and of all, the dragon is the most vital and powerful. It is auspicious to be born in the year of the dragon…dragons are free thinkers, free spirits and risk takers. They are driven, passionate and unafraid of challenges. Many couples plan their children’s births for the year of the Dragon. Bruce Lee, for one, was born in the year of the Dragon.

Roslyn Hammers, U. of Hong Kong: The way people talk about the dragon is very special because it means many different things to many different people through out time. There is the understanding of the associations of a dragon in which the dragon stands for a person of talents—a man of talent. Again, perhaps with this idea of transformation and spiritual development and intellectual development; the dragon can be seen as a very special, powerful, knowledgeable, wise entity. So people want to align themselves with that idea.

RB VO: All year long, Hong Kong is a moveable feast of festivals, a glorious parade of animation and color. The fishing villages on the islands celebrate honored traditions such as the Bun Festival held on the eighth day of the fourth moon, only on the island of Cheung Chau. The annual event began as an exorcising ceremony to ward off plagues. An enormous tower of sweet buns is scaled by bun grabbers. Each bun is an offering to the ghosts of the past.

RB VO: Another festival unites light and love. On the 15th day of the first lunar month, the Lantern Festival blazes with light and hope for the New Year. This is also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.

RB OC: It doesn’t do to leave a dragon out of your calculations here…the benevolent beast is always present, breathing both day and night. The fire never extinguished is neon, illuminating the ceaseless activity, and the adventures that lie around every corner.

RB VO: Like lightning in the coiled night, quick, bright things dazzle the eyes in Hong Kong after dark. The skyline dresses up in lasers and gleam. From atop Victoria Peak, Hong Kong’s famed viewpoint, the city marches in neon columns, and the harbor ripples with light. On the ground, it is a whirligig of shoppers and strollers; of overflowing markets and restaurants, more so now than any time of year. Tonight there are torrents of anticipation for the Chinese New Year.

RB VO: Dumplings, dim sum, scintillating soups -- a common Hong Kong greeting is not “How are you?” but rather “Have you eaten?” This full-flavored city is rife with restaurants, more than 10,000 official ones along with thousands of food stalls and private kitchens. Some of my favorites are tiny brightly lit haunts with metal tables and fiery woks.

Prosperity means nourishment, and pairing fine wine with world cuisine has turned to high art in this town. Grape wine dates back more than four thousand years here, but only recently the wine tariffs were lifted, and Hong Kong, in its inimitable spirit for spirits, swirled itself into becoming a global leader in wine auctions.

RB OC: In the past when I’ve been to HK it seems like everyone was drinking cognac but wine wasn’t all that popular but thing seem to have changed.

Gregory L. De’Eb, Crown Wine Cellars: Dramatically Richard. I think since the advent of zero tax we are pretty much now are acknowledged as the wine trading center of Asia; perhaps the second largest wine-trading market in the world. As a result all the greatest collections and all the auction houses are here. And we are ‘round about two billion Hong Kong dollars worth at the moment and rising dramatically fast.

RB VO: They say when the dragon shuts his eyes it is night, when he opens them it is day. A thick cloak of fog shrouds the city as I start my day. Rain swiftly follows, a greeting, perhaps, from the dragon. An old proverb states: “When the dragon arises, the varicolored clouds follow.”

Roslyn Hammers, U. of Hong Kong: I would say that the dragon is most often associated with rain. In part this has to do with very early practices that predate historical writings. Apparently there is a custom for people; whenever they wanted to have rain they would worship a dragon who would—if he was happy and appeased—he would send benevolent rain down. Now this practice, again very early on, and I would say that this is something the emperors also would like to use; because the emperors would like to compare themselves favorably to a dragon. Where as the dragon is providing rain for people who are farming and again allowing for the productivity and prosperity; when the emperor also would say he is also like a dragon because he is providing perhaps beneficial policies that allow for his people to prosper and for them to have benefit. So the connection between rain and the dragon is very close and also the connection between the emperor and the dragon.

RB VO: It seems this enlightened sense of balance is old as time. It resides in the ancient incense-heavy temples, but also in the contemporary edifices where progress and prosperity are weighed with care. In this most sophisticated of cities, tradition and modernity meld with ease.

RB VO: In order to further understand the deep well of philosophy that informs the dragon, I have come to the sacred Man Mo Temple.

RB VO: Among the most ancient of theologies is Taoism. The Tao is the way, the creative principle of the universe, the unity of all things. Taoism introduced the concept of yin and yang as two sides of a coin, opposites that come together to be complete. Taoism also posits that coursing through all living things is chi, the life force. Chi runs under the earth in gullies and streams, it runs through the veins of humans and in the pulse of the stars. Dragon breath or vapor is said to be the chi of the universe.

RB OC: Many believe that deep underground, there is an energy flow that runs from Victoria Peak all the way to the harbor called the dragon’s vein. Through it runs chi, the very essence of life. It’s propitious to build near this vein but very unfavorable to block it.

RB VO: The art of divining where to build, how to encourage chi to run smoothly through buildings and how not to offend dragons living in the hills, is the art of Feng Shui.

Raymond Lo, Feng Shui Researched and Practitioner: Officially we say the Feng Shui starts about 2700 BC, because that was a time when the Yellow Emperor first discovered how to make a compass. The key part of Feng Shui is you have such massive energy you have to preserve, otherwise it would go away. So therefore there are many coastal cities that the dragon stops there but the energy just dissipates in the sea. But Hong Kong is different. The energy of the dragon comes from China and comes to Kowloon and then the energy stops here. And it was protected by the Victoria Mountain on the opposite side. So therefore the Victoria Peak is actually the most powerful shelter to protect energy from going away. So that’s why the Victoria Harbour is where the energy is well preserved. So therefore you can see both sides of the harbour Chim Sow Choi and San Cho is the most powerful, prosperous place.

RB: So that’s one of the reasons HK has been so successful.

RL: Yeah, yeah. That’s why Hong Kong is more-strong as a financial, economic kind -of center.

RB VO: Did the dragon, then, beget the compass? Perhaps. The earliest compasses were used by geomancers, specialists who located the spots that would bode well for a building or a village by determining the dragon lines.

RB VO: Some say this bayside apartment building plunked a big hole in the complex so the dragon in the hill could reach the harbor. In Feng Shui, the chi must forever flow.

RB VO: One of the many auspicious buildings in Hong Kong is the Intercontinental Hong Kong Hotel, built as it is on the path that dragons take down the hill to bathe in the fragrant harbor every morning. Lions, too, drop in bringing good luck at Chinese New Year.

Louis Baleros, Intercontinental Hotel: Now in order to lure him to come into the hotel, the Feng Shui master suggested that we put a wall of floor to ceiling glass…so that he can see through it to come into the building. Then we have the two planter boxes—the rose planter boxes in front of reception. The red—red in Chinese is very important—that would then allow the dragon to come into the lobby. Then he sees the reception which is island shaped. What’s interesting about this island shaped reception is there is a wall in the middle. And what that stands for in Feng Shui—the fortunes from all angles go into reception and won’t over shoot reception because of the wall. It will be all captured there.

RB: So it’s like a prosperity trap—all the good fortune comes in.

LB: Then it will take a little rest at reception before he goes out to the harbor for a bath.

RB: Oh so he goes through these windows?

LB: Yes!

RB VO: People here live especially long and healthy lives. What is the secret of their well-being? The dragon represents and inspires balance in all things, and that may contribute. Tai Chi is a Taoist practice that fuses yin and yang. Any morning, when Hong Kong’s dragon energy awakens, thousands practice a kind of martial arts that seems like a war dance performed underwater.

RB VO: Kung Fu, Tai Chi’s martial arts cousin, is like thought transferred into feeling; it is silent poetry wrapped in history and adventure. When performed well, it is a pathway to the sublime.

Zhu Sheng Qing (martial artist): Follow me.

RB: Ok. Follow you? Follow you?

Z: One, two, three, four, five.

RB: Five steps. OK.

Z: One

RB: Like this? OK with the claws—dragon claws.

Z: Two

RB: Like this?

Z: Three

RB: OK, it’s important to make a noise, right?

Z: (Makes noise)


Z: Four, five.

RB: OK, now four, five. OK go ahead.

ZB: (Flips in mid-air and grins)

RB: (Laughs) I’m going to have to work up to that one.

RB OC: A swarm with a hive of busy boats is Victoria Harbor and a ride across it on Hong Kong’s Star Ferry figures among the world’s best boat-rides. Across the water from Hong Kong Island, dragons inhabit the hills behind the high keeps and spires of Kowloon.

Roslyn Hammers, U. of Hong Kong: Kowloon itself means nine-dragons in Cantonese. And this is a story that goes back to the Southern Sung Dynasty which is 1279. Now, the Southern Sung Court—along with the boy emperor—is fleeing from the Mongols who are coming down. And they are fleeing on a boat. And they are here in the South China Sea. The child emperor is looking at what is now Kowloon and he counts the hills. And he says to his minister, “Look, there eight dragons—or eight hills on this peninsula.” And the minister says, “Well yes, your-royal-highness but you have forgotten that you as the son of the dragon are the ninth dragon. And hereafter Kowloon has been named for nine dragons in honor of this story.

RB VO: On both sides of the harbor, life speeds on with hurried steps towards the day when the wheel of the New Year will be turned. Efforts to master fate, to best the odds, are sweeping and grand, including jaunts to Kowloon’s Wong Tai Sin, a favorite Taoist temple. Here devotees offer up bright oranges of promise (the color of gold), and toss bamboo prediction sticks.

RB VO: All over Hong Kong, peach trees and rows of potted fruit trees, banners and tassels and auspicious red greetings bedeck office buildings and shops.

RB VO: Down a set of stairs in an unpresuming alley, the ancient alchemy of gold and paper transforms a New Year greeting into magic.

RB OC: Is this it? Look at that. So even written the dragon is beautiful.

RB VO: Hong Kong, like the dragon, has no truck with envy; rather the city works, and works hard for wealth and the possibilities that come with it. Well-being and affluence have allowed the city to make significant and vital decisions related to the environment. The prosperity and vaulting ambition of Hong Kong is now being harnessed, as the city moves to place its wealth towards green initiatives.

Wong How Man: So, I think in this world we are always looking for the right balance. Given that Hong Kong is small and certainly not resource rich—except financial resources—it is a very well run city—organized—and it’s certainly financially always has a good reserve. So we are not running a huge deficit. So they can actually plan ahead—implement ahead—make investments for the future rather than always fixing problems. Even as someone who has been working in conservation now, I think we are—kind of—always trying to get ahead and do preventive measures looking into the future. Rather than always problem solving and being a repair man. I think we have gone beyond being a repair man anymore.

RB OC: One of the main tenets of Taoism is wu-wei, which means to take no action that is contrary to nature.

RB VO: And while much of the world has certainly upset that balance, Hong Kong seeks to lead the way with a green leap forward, investing in clean technologies and restoring and preserving open spaces.

RB OC: For the people of Hong Kong, green is the color of eternity.

RB VO: Behind the superstructures, beyond the malls, some 40% of Hong Kong’s land area is designated as country parks. Newly opened is Hong Kong National Geopark, a collection of geological wonders, many water bound.

Mr. Edward Yau, Secretary of Environment for HKSAR: People may not recognize that we have some natural beauty like the wall behind—I would call it a display of columns or columns of a galleria, because we have millions of these columns around this coastal area.

RB: Millions of columns like this?

Y: Yeah, exactly yeah. We are talking about maybe millions of them along the coast line which was a caldera—a broken sort of volcano. So the formation was done back 140,000,000 years ago.

RB: Certainly as I spent my time in Hong Kong, I didn’t expect that there would be eco-adventures, but you are telling me this is also an eco-destination.

Y: Yes. People come to Hong Kong for different reasons. Increasingly there are more international visitors coming to Hong Kong to see the different parts of Hong Kong.

RB: Such as this. This is worth seeing.

Y: And also, well there are people who come here to understand better how the world is being formed. And this might provide them with a very interesting example.

RB: I also understand that there are people in Hong Kong who are becoming pioneers in sustainable architecture, and in green technologies.

Y: One of the major challenges to cities these days is in fact the carbon footprint—how to strike even a better balance between metropolitan development and nature conservation. I think that might provide a very good opportunity for the development of a green economy for a city like Hong Kong.

RB: So the new dragon economy might be an economy that’s green?

Y: And also sustainable.

RB VO: One of Hong Kong’s most beloved destinations is Lantau Island. “Bite the clouds,” is a popular saying here. And so one does, travelling like a balloon on the Ngong Ping Cable Car. This flight crosses Tung Chung Bay and then pivots 60 degrees in the air towards North Lantau and the great seated Buddha at Po Lin Monastery.

RB VO: Buddhism arrived in the 3rd century AD and melded with Taoism and Confucianism to form a pillar of Chinese culture. Po Lin Monastery is the living paradox it suggests, being both a practicing monastery, and a major tourist draw. The world’s tallest seated outdoor bronze Buddha sits atop a flight of 268 stairs. Dragons adorn spiritual paths, guarding and blessing the way.

RB VO: Just moments from the restless city, amid Hong Kong’s many islands, time flows backwards, unevenly stopping here and there like a branch in a stream. Fishermen ply their trade almost unchanged from centuries past. Tai O with its stilt houses is redolent with smells from the sea.

RB OC: It feels like we’re a thousand miles from the skyscrapers. But this is Hong Kong.

RB VO: In Chinese lore, at the autumnal equinox dragons dive into the sea where they sleep until the spring when they return to the clouds. The typhoons in spring and autumn churn up as the dragons move from air to sea and back.

RB OC: Not only life-giving rain, but intense heat and plagues are associated with the dragon. The fifth day of the fifth moon is known as the double fifth and it’s the day when the dragon power is at its pitch. It’s no accident this early summer day is the occasion for the legendary dragon boat races.

RB VO: On this potentially perilous day, the dragon boats are summoned. As many as fifty paddlers row to the beat of a drum. From the mists of legend is the tale that on this day Qu Yuan, a scholar who lived in the early centuries BC, drowned himself in sorrow at being exiled for his ideas. Locals raced out in their boats to save him, but realizing he was gone, they tossed rice dumplings in the water to keep the fish from eating his body.

RB VO: Back in Hong Kong, the preparations for Chinese New Year escalate in an effort to get a leg-up on fate. Homes are swept and cleaned, food is bought and prepared. Debts are paid, bonuses distributed at company parties and gifts bought for relatives.

RB: Hello. I’ve been invited to celebrate Chinese New Year with a local family in Hong Kong and I’m trying to find out what I should bring to them for gifts.

Gordo: Actually you can bring many things. You can see many gifts in our store….you can bring male, female double happiness…

RB: Double happiness.

G: Yeah, this is gung hay fat choi. Maybe this specific one—fu—fu means luck or prosperity. Otherwise the most important thing you can bring is a dragon--the dragon.

RB: The dragon.

G: Yeah the dragon is the most powerful thing—it means power, luck, good fortune, everything. If you bring this the people will say you really respect them.

RB: Yes

G: They are really happy. Yeah they are really, really happy.

RB VO: Tea is often the first thing consumed in the Chinese New Year.

RB: I understand you are a tea master and that you serve dragon well tea.

Tony Ngan, Ngan Ki Heung Tea Co., Ltd.: Yeah.

RB: Really?

T: Yeah, it’s dragon well tea—world famous. This is the green tea.

RB: It’s a green tea

T: ...a green tea. And this was the first tea. This tea is good for high-blood pressure...

RB: High blood pressure

T: High cholesterol…

RB: Oh, it’s good for high cholesterol

T: every morning I drink this tea. It’s good for health.

RB VO: Longjing Tea or Dragon Well tea comes from an area near a large lake thought to be inhabited by a dragon. The water and fire in the tea ceremony stand for yin and yang coming together in equilibrium.

RB: The dragon represents I think good health and longevity as well. So this is the path. Thank you.

RB OC: Just as the earth is mapped for Feng Shui and the flow of chi, so too the dragon’s vapor runs through the body. This is a cosmos, with elements of yin and yang that must be balanced.

RB: I’m not very good with jet lag and I have a bit of a headache and I haven’t been sleeping very well. And I feel a little off balance. And I’m wondering if you might have something that can help.

RB: So you take my pulse and you can determine my health from that. OK. I’ve heard that you have dragon bones?

So Pak Hong, Traditional Medicine: dragon bones

RB: ...and dragon teeth.

S: Dragon bones, dragon teeth, yeah. Dragon bones.

RB: This is dragon bones?

S: Yeah, dragon bones.

RB: Look at this. So do we pound it?

S: Yeah.

RB: Well let’s go...let’s go.

S: (crushes bone in mortar)

RB: Look at that, it’s a nice powder. How do I ingest it? Do I do it like this?

S: No, in a tea.

RB: So I put it in a tea?

S: Yeah, in a tea.

RB VO: A first century text describes the medicinal value of dragon bone. “Dragon bone is sweet and balanced. It mainly treats heart and abdominal demonic influx, spiritual miasma, and old ghosts.”

RB: You know, we’ve been getting deeper and deeper into the dragon and now I think the dragon is getting deep in me.

RB VO: On the day before the Chinese New Year, Hong Kong thunders with energy. People are out shopping for holiday foods. Families gather to enjoy a special feast.

RB VO: Afterwards people visit temples. It’s good luck to stay up at least until midnight. In fact, children are discouraged from going to bed early as tradition declares that staying up late will ensure a long life for their parents. Some stay up all night to welcome the first rays of the New Year. All over the streets the greeting “kung hay fat choi” rings out, meaning “prosperous wishes for the New Year.” Finally the New Year dawns.

RB OC: As is custom, I am joining a friend’s family for this most auspicious of days.

EVERYONE: Kung hay fat choi.

Uncle Wing: A red pocket!

RB: Oh, a red pocket. OK!

My friend James, and his uncle Wing and his family, invite me to their home. Auntie is cooking up as storm as I offer my hosts gifts and a special Chinese New Year pudding.

James: Oh thank you, thank you!

RB VO: The whole of the household is dressed for the festival.

Uncle Wing to Kar-Kar the dog: Kung hay fat choi. Something like that. Kung hay fat choi.

Dog: barks

R: What’s he saying?

Wing: Kung hay fat choi.

R: Oh Kung hay fat choi…happy New Year.

RB VO: But then we get a call that the lion and the unicorn are meeting in town. Homes and businesses invite the lion in to make blessings and bring wealth. Here in Sai Kung, the lion and unicorn unite at the sacred ancestral hall. The martial artists under the costume collect packets of money wrapped around lettuce, or san choi, words that sound like the phrase “to bring wealth.” The lion coyly dances around the lettuce, finally grabbing it, collecting the money and spewing out the greens.

RB VO: Back at Uncle Wing’s house, the lion arrives and riles up the dog, while exorcising evil spirits and bringing all kinds of good fortune.

Dish after dish rolls out on the table.

RB: Oh look at this. If looks like you’ve got duck and you’ve got fish, and you’ve got pork…Is that right?

James: Yes, but all are vegetarian.

RB: These are vegetarian?

J: Yes! In traditional Chinese speaking, especially home that believe in Buddha, the first day and the middle of the month we eat vegetarian. Especially, today is the first day of the New Year so enjoy some vegetarian.

RB: So they make it all look like it is meat?

J: Yes, like this one is made from tofu. Do you want to try it?

J: This one is also made from tofu—the skin. OK?

J: In traditional China speaking—especially Cantonese—‘fu’—tofu—‘fu’ it means wealthy. So Richard, we are going to be rich.

RB: Ahha

J: Thank you very much for coming and enjoy your lunch.

RB: Thank you. Thank you for such an extraordinary meal.

RB VO: On the first night of the Chinese New Year celebration, the phantasmagoric Night Parade winds like a sinewy dream through the streets of Hong Kong. Floats and performing troupes from around the world dazzle spectators. But when the star arrives, the dragon, it’s all magic.

RB OC: Legends say the dragon sleeps in the winter but wakes up in time to bring the spring rains. And just to be sure he doesn’t oversleep, the city sets off fireworks over Chinese New Year.

RB VO: No one could sleep through this bursting, loud-voiced display over Victoria Harbor on the second night of Chinese New Year. The explosions melt into the neon etched skyscrapers and cascade into the dragon-infested harbor. Hong Kong blazes in brilliant glory.

RB VO: The holiday traditions continue. On the 3rd day of Chinese New Year crowds gather to spin the candy-colored wheels of fate at Che Kung Temple in the New Territories. Pinwheels dance in the dragon-borne winds, inciting transformation, good health and fortune. I end my quest for the dragon spirit here, among the churning wheels of fortune, the plumes of incense, the faces both young and old. I have embraced the paradox of this city that fervently prays for good luck and then diligently sets about to make it happen.

RB VO: Around every bend in this exalting, brilliant, pandemonius city, an invisible force, a harmonious flow endows all things, from the rise and fall of empires to the budding of a peach blossom. This life energy, or chi, is an age old concept forever linked to the mythic, mysterious and magical dragon. The dragon exists in the hearts and the minds of the people of Hong Kong – it’s their verve, entrepreneurial spirit, their dedication to family and to the folklore of collective memory.

RB OC: There is an old expression here: “With money, a dragon; without money, a worm.” Those in the West want to slay the dragon; in Hong Kong they want to be the dragon.

RB VO: Maybe there is something to this precept: prosperity as a means to a larger goodness, a higher virtue, a balance of growth and preservation.

RB OC: Perhaps we all have untapped dragons within us, and by acknowledging and firing them up, we can make a difference.

RB VO: What you can do: Delve into the many books that explore the dragons of Hong Kong. Seek balance in your own community, family and life. Support sustainable energy sources in your area. Visit Hong Kong and see for yourself.

RB VO: For more information and links, go to our website, AdventuresWithPurpose.TV