Lantau Island

For our second day in Hong Kong we decided to visit one of the other islands in the area. We chose the biggest island, Lantau, and took a sleepy ferry ride from Hong Kong island to Mui Wo. From there a dodgy-as-sin dicing-with-death bus ride took us to Po Lin Monastery, home to the spectacular Big Buddha.

The Buddha is colossal, made of bronze and sits in an incredible location at the top of sixteen flights of sixteen steps, overlooking some spectacular hills. The monastery itself is nearby, and caters to tourists with surprising gusto. We saw some amazing shrines to the various sacred entities of Buddhism, and a truly impressive Buddhist ceremony involving much chanting and visual flair. Unfortunately they did not allow pictures of the ceremony.

We got a great vegetarian lunch from the monastery, and then strolled across to the nearby village of Ngong Ping. As the monastery is sacred shrine to Buddhism, Ngong Ping is a holy shrine to tourist consumerism. The village was clearly built in its entirety at the same time as the giant Buddha statue in the 1970s, and consisted of nothing more than vain attempts to cash in on visitors paying their respects to the enlightened one. One of these attempts did sway us, however, and this was the cable car ride.

The Ngong Ping cable car ride had a queue stretching halfway across Ngong Ping village, and we were informed this queue would take about fifty minutes to clear. However, we then found out that there was a separate queue for "standing only" rides, which was two minutes. For some reason, everyone waited in the stupidly long queue while we strolled through to get standing room (which actually has a better view) on the most breath-taking ride I could have imagined. Seven kilometers long, stretched hundreds of metres above some seriously undulating terrain, with views of the big Buddha, the harbour, and many of Hong's Kong's skyscrapers. The engineering involved is scale a scale so epic that only the Chinese would have designed it, let alone built it. Any visitors to Hong Kong should definitely check it out.

The cable car dropped us off in a town which was not quite so friendly for the English-language-only tourist and so we had some trouble finding a bus back to Tsim Sha Tsui. The "mystery bus" we caught had us sweating for a while but we got close enough to our hostel that we could enjoy a stroll through Kowloon's night markets. I bought a copy of Mao's "Little Red Book" - although my first attempts at haggling were clearly not aggresive enough because the stall owner was very quick to accept my offer. We had a simple Clay Pot dinner with a couple of beers and retired for the night for the last time in Hong Kong.


Payna said...

That looks amazing, love the blog!

Dave Chamberlain said...

Hey guys. I only just discovered that you went to Ngong Ping. Intouch did the ticketing system for Skyrail (an Australian company from Cairns that operates the cable car). The ride was designed by Leitner, which is an Italian company. About a month after your posting, a cable car fell off during testing! Fortunately no one was in it. Looks like you had an interesting time there.