Nov 6, 2010

Tian Tan Buddha...

It has been a long time but I remember clearly that it was humid and hot when we finally arrived Tung Chung Station to take the cable car as a last step to reach Big Buddha. After a beautiful trip in the cable car finally he appeared slowly in front of us through the thick fog like he was floating on the top of the mountain. The sight was absolutely stunning... The statue was over 100 ft tall, dignified and calm. He was looking at us from a distance with his right hand raised.

We watched the fishermen fishing in their boats, backpackers walking the long, steep path up to the mountain and planes taking off at Hong Kong Airport from up above when we were slowly approaching to the cable car station at Ngong Ping on Lantau Island.

By the way I couldn't help but notice that the cable car was running on the right side not on the left side like the traffic in Hong Kong. Are the cable cars not considered as a part of the traffic or is it because the construction was finished during the period when UK was handing over Hong Kong to China?

Anyway the walk after getting off the car leading to Po Lin Monastery and Big Buddha gets a little bit weird with all the colorful gift shops, a big Starbucks, fast food restaurants, cafes, etc. on both sides. The truth is it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in one of the most money oriented cities of the world and they didn't feel any pressure to hide the fact.

There are 268 steps in total to reach the statue and watching his eyes staring at you when you are getting closer is pretty impressive. Actually the statue is only seventeen years old but it feels like he was sitting there forever. After climbing all the way up you meet six more smaller statues around Buddha facing him and offering flowers, incense, music, light, balm and fruits. The view was so gorgeous even the tacky gift shop inside the statue didn't disturb my mood. There is also a small photo exhibition inside showing the different stages of the construction period of the site.


After walking down we also visited the two monastery buildings. The old one is built in 1920's and has an incredible calm look. It is not open to the visitors but you can watch the original building and the monks working in the gardens from a distance. Oddly enough, the new building has a much older and historical look with an attractive and big praying hall decorated with the most gorgeous flowers and statues. The garden around has all kind and sizes of incense sticks burning. Some of them are six feet tall and six inches thick. The site looks and smells absolutely amazing. Spending some time there was quite peaceful.


To be honest after all the tiredness of the day the cafes I was complaining about at the first sight are starting to look very tempting when you see the enormous line in front of the cable car station on your way back. I strongly recommend to schedule a full day for your visit to Ngong Ping not to get frustrated in the long lines and in crowded train cars. The whole experience takes a long time but it is totally worth it. 

And after a day like this finally returning back to Hong Kong covered with the most beautiful food smells with an empty stomach is probably the best thing can happen...

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