Ngong Ping 360 cable cars
As planned, my second day in Hong Kong required lots of walking, hiking up stairs and a small mountain, and walking again. To prepare for the big day ahead of us, we had a heavy breakfast, consisting of beef stew and lots of rice, at some authentic Chinese restaurant near our hotel, where we had the hard time ordering our meals as their menu were all in Chinese characters and the guy in charge does not even speak English. We had to just point to the pictures at the walls to order.
My mom, on the last minute, decided not to join me, so it was me & TitoMel to Lantau Island. To get there, we had to ride the MTR and a cable car. Yes, cable car through Ngong Ping 360 cable car. Yes, cable car, about 25-minute ride from Tung Chung Bay to Northern Lantau Island, which offered a 360-degree view of the serene and mountainous terrain of the Lantau Island, as well as the first peek of the mighty Tian Tan Buddha Statue.
I also saw the foot path that monks used to go to the Po Lin Monastery. The ride itself was, for me, already an adventure.
After alighting from the cable car, we were at Ngong Ping Village. From its name, I was expecting an old rustic Chinese village, but when we got there, it was actually a culturally themed village, just a recreation of a Chinese village, with its many retail and dining establishments, even Starbucks, so basically, it was a shopping village. J Anyhow, since we were already there, I took advantage of the free sights and took numerous pix of the place.
After enjoying the beautiful landscapes of Ngong Ping Village, we went to the Po Lin Monastery, a temple tucked in the woods, lit incense, took pictures, and rested as our next destination would require 268 steps.
So, after the much-needed rest, we began climbing the steps to reach the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, the world’s largest and tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue. It was a nightmare of a climb as it was freaking hot that day and, as it was flocked by tourists, there was a traffic jam along the stairs. J Worst is, I could not find a perfect shot of the Big Buddha with all these tourists blocking my frame.
Big Buddha on my palm
So there we were at the feet of the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, who is positioned on a lotus throne with his right hand raised while the other rests on his knee, with several smaller Buddhistic statues surrounding the Big Buddha. It was one big impressive Buddha. One question: how the hell did it get there?
Aside from admiring the Big Buddha itself, once on top, it gave a picturesque view of the Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s biggest and most beautiful island -- the island of secrets and surprises.
After taking like a hundred pictures, we started climbing down and followed a trail leading to the Wisdom Path, where the Heart Sutra, world's best known Buddhist prayer, is inscribed on wooden poles arranged in a figure of eight to signify infinity. Unfortunately, the inscriptions were in Chinese characters, so the enlightenment that I was looking forward to �" did not get it. But, there was one column that I understood, the column located at the highest point of the hill, -- the blank column -- suggesting the concept of "emptiness," that all events, physical and mental, are in a constant process of change, and everything can be changed by modifying the conditions, therefore, preventing one from becoming irrationally attached to things and making one treasure and make good use of the conditions that are available. Mere looking at the blank column did not give me this wisdom, of course, as I had to read it at some introduction tablet near the entrance of the Wisdom Path.
Following the Wisdom Path, we reached the highest point of that hill. I have read in some blogs that no trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Po Lin Monastery, Tian Tan Buddha, and Wisdom Path, and it definitely made my trip. I can just go home now, nah, maybe after grabbing a bottle of beer first.
The views are dominated by hills -- all green with no buildings in view. I totally forgot that I was in Hong Kong -- just completely free from urbanization. Serene and peacefulness were in the air, and not much tourists around here.