Saturday, March 31, 2007

big buddha day

Today was the day I have been most looking forward to ever since arriving in Hong Kong. It was the day that Amy (my ever-gracious HKIS guide) and I were going to go see the Big Buddha!

Located on Lantau, this enormous statue is a little bit of a trek from Hong Kong. But not too bad--it was only one MTR ride to Tung Chung Terminal where we got on the Ngong Ping Skyrail. This 25 minute gondola ride would be the fastest way to the Big Buddha.

And it was also the most picturesque. At first I was a bit disapointed that our morning was cool and misty, but as we traveled I enjoyed the atmosphere the mist gave the surroundings. There were moments that the skyrail disapeared into the fog.

And the countryside below was visible most of the time. Below I could see the lush greenery, the mountains and water from a viewpoint unmatched. See that pathway?That's the hiking trail to Big Buddha. It stretched all over the landscape, like a miniture version on the great wall. I also saw incredibly fit people walking on it.

And from the tram, I got my first glimpse of the buddha. A solitary figure, through silver-grey clouds.

The skyrail dropped us off at Ngong Ping village, which was a strangely Disneyfied Chinese village. It had all the tiled roofs and latticed windows of traditionals Chinese buildings, but had Italian gelato stores and Starbucks. However, I have to admit, I enjoyed these modern amenities-- I am too spoiled not to take advantage of things like western toilets and bottled water.

From there, if you want to see the buddha up close, you have to climb many, many stairs. It is part of the Po Lin Monastary and it is half way up the mountainside.

Did I mention there were many stairs? 268, to be exact. I didn't count, I looked it up afterwards. It was a tad bit tiring.

But it was worth it.