I’ve ticked off one of my ‘bucket list’ goals for this year, and number one on the list as well! We visited ‘The Big Buddha’!
On February 1st, a freezing (not exactly freezing but it was pretty cold), foggy Sunday morning we got up “early” and headed to Lantau Island, via MTR to Tung Chung and the huge cable car that disappeared into the foggy hills and mountains. I’d advise to get there early or book tickets in advance as we were stood in a queue for quite a while behind a very disobedient child. Children shouldn’t be allowed days out on weekends. So, we sipped our coffees and tried to hide our Circle-K noodles and pork buns from the cable car staff as there was no food allowed and we waited for our turn. Back to the weather for a moment, it was cold, cold enough for us to go buy me a new jacket from the handy outlet mall nearby. When we got on to the cable car it got colder as the air came through the vents behind the seats and went straight up our backs. On the other hand, going in the dead of summer would probably be just as uncomfortable.
The Buddha looks amazing as you approach it on the cable car, it’s huge and sticks out of the landscape clearly, even in the thick fog that we had. Despite the fact the buddha is a relatively modern addition to the Hong Kong hills, I felt like I was making an ancient pilgrimage to worship my God of choice, also ignoring the fact that I was in a cable car and not making a long, painful walk like ancient pilgrims would have done.
Obviously the first thing we did when we reached the top was eat our noodles and pork buns. Hunger beats touristing.
We walked around and looked at the various statues and then ascended the millions of stairs leading up to the main attraction itself. Which almost killed me, I should definitely make some health related Chinese New Year resolutions. It is a pretty fantastic sight, this huge calming, soothing Buddha surrounded by various worshippers worshipping it and also tourists ogling the worshippers. I’m painfully unreligious, not even a little bit of ‘Hmm, what if there is a God..?’ in me, but it’s still very interesting to see other people observing their religions. The temples that you can go into both here and all around Hong Kong are incredible. So much intricate detail and there is always monks (I guess that’s what they are?) tending to them. I was really happy that I got to hear some actual religious chanting being done here, as previously it appeared to just be a recording being played. Unlike some of the other naughty bad tourists, I accepted the requests to not take pictures inside the temples so if you want to see just how beautiful they are you’re gonna have to book a flight (or Google, because bad tourists take pictures, but I think you should see it first hand).
We decided to have a walk around the area after we were all templed out, if you like walking then this is a good place as there was a few different trails of varying degrees of difficulty. We didn’t really do anything difficult. Just a little saunter around, took in the sights of the free-roaming cows (I like cows but when they stare at you and then make a sudden movement they can appear quite sinister) and the abandoned buildings and then we were ready to head back homewards. There’s some quirky little souvenir shops up there that sell different things than what I’ve seen in the city,
so if you’re in the market for a funny and slightly offensive fridge magnet you’re in luck. There’s also a chopstick shop where we bought our first set of fancy chopsticks, it’s worth a look as some of them are beautiful.
So there we go, number one has been ticked off, the ball is rolling. After 6 months I’m finally seeing Hong Kong!
Here’s some more pictures of our day..