Friday was my first full day in Hong Kong and as mentioned in yesterday’s post my family is from here, but this is my first time visiting. If you don’t know, Hong Kong is made up of many little islands and a few bigger ones. I’m staying on Hong Kong Island, where my parents were born and my dad grew up (my mom moved to the States when she was very young). So Friday, we booked a half day tour to Lantau Island – one of the islands of Hong Kong – so that we could go to the Po Lin Monastery where the big Buddha is. Obviously, I had never gone, and my parents hadn’t gone since they were last back here in the 80s and the Buddha was just being constructed.
We weren’t being picked up until 1pm, so we spent the morning taking the tram, or the ding ding as they call it here, down to my dad’s old neighborhood and walked around a little.
Then we went back to the hotel to grab something quick to eat before getting picked up for our trip. The shuttle bus picked us up and then drove via a tunnel to Kowloon – the peninsula directly across the harbor from Hong Kong Island – to pick up 4 other people going on the trip too from another hotel. It was a little rainy at the time, but we decided to go anyway because this is typhoon season and the weather is unpredictable.
Then we drove to Lantau Island via bridge. We were dropped off at the skyride or gondola ride up the mountain to get to the Buddha and monastery. We weren’t sure the gondola would be open because of weather, but we were lucky and on Lantau Island it was sunny so they were still having cars going. The ride had amazing views! It was a lot longer than I thought it would be – probably at least 15 minutes and it goes over the water and from peak to peak.
At one point you’re so high up, you’re literally going in to the clouds!
Then after getting over the last peak, you can see the Buddha and monastery. It’s amazing to see from afar to get an idea just how big the Buddha is.
We got off the gondola and a van drove us up the hill to the actual Buddha and we went inside for a little tour of the area and to learn about the relic inside. No photography was allowed inside the Buddha or the monastery. We had free time so I took a ton of photos of the Buddha and the views from up there. Then, we walked down all the stairs to the bottom and got photos from the bottom. I think there are 200 something steps.
Isn’t it amazing! I looked it up and it’s about 110 feet tall. Then the fact that it’s up on a hill or mountainside makes it look even bigger. After coming down, we walked around the little square for a few minutes and there’s actually a spot that is a direct line to the Buddha and in that spot anything you say, echoes.
We then walked over the monastery. No pictures were allowed inside, but in one section monks were doing their daily evening prayers or chants so you could get a glimpse of them. The room they were in was so beautiful and ornate too – made out of 24k gold!
Right after this, it started to get dark and rainy! So thankful the rain held off and was actually beautiful when we were on the gondola ride and at the Buddha!
We then ran over to the little shuttle bus that was taking us to Tai O – a fishing village on Lantau. We were supposed to walk around the village, visit some shops, but it started downpouring. Like absolutely pouring. Luckily, I had that rain jacket I bought in Japan with me! It was really bad. We got out and most shops were closed because of the weather. We could see the people just hanging around inside or playing mahjong! The rain was so bad that my sneakers and socks were soaked through within minutes. We ended up just doing a quick walk through the area and then cutting it short and heading out because it was so bad out.
We made it to the ferry just in time to catch the 5:30 ferry. The water was a bit rough due to the weather and I also couldn’t get any good scenic shots since I couldn’t go outside on the ferry with the rain and wind.
We got off the ferry and couldn’t get a cab so we decided to take the MTR (subway). We actually didn’t even get wet much on this walk because we just ran over to the skybridge and walked to the station. As mentioned yesterday, there are a lot of areas in Hong Kong where you can get from place to place without having to actually go outside on the street. So once we got to the covered footbridge/skybridge we just kept walking towards the MTR station we needed and then walked downstairs until we got to our train/subway. Then, once we got off, we follow signs for the mall that our hotel is attached to – Pacific Place – and walk through the mall (wishing I could afford the stores like Celine and Chanel). On our way to the station though, we saw this huge Apple store which is in IFC (another mall). 3 floors!
After freshening up back at the hotel, we went out for dinner with some relatives. Luckily the restaurant was just on the bottom floor of Pacific Place so we didn’t have to go back out in the rain!
Overall the day was really good and I’m really happy I got to see the Big Buddha and take the gondola ride over! It wouldn’t have been the same if the ride was not in service and the shuttle had to drive us up.
Have you ever been to the Big Buddha?