Tuesday 17 September 2013

Day 6 - Big Buddha

We actually got up early today! 10am, required as we needed to make the journey to the Po Lin Buddhist Monastery. It's located in the mountains over in Ngong Ping which is on Lantau Island. The usual tourist way to travel there is via cable car, however we are here during the only three weeks a year when the car is stopped for maintenance, so we had to get a bus.

Waiting on the number 23 bus in Tung Chung. The area had massive 30+ floor apartment blocks.
You can pay for the bus using your Octopus card for a flat rate of $17.50
It took a good hour to get to Tung Chung, the end of one of the metro lines where we connected with a local Lantau Island bus. The buses only ran every 20 minutes and there were already quite a lot of tourists in the queue. They appeared to increase the frequency, but still there was a wait for the 40 minute bus ride over the mountain and island before we reached the Monastery. 
Waiting on the bus in the heat of 30c
The journey did provide us some breathtaking scenic views of white beaches and lush mountain sides. Truly stunning.  
One of the beaches on Lantau Island
At the entrance gate
Lo Pin Monastery is an active one, the monks were present and praying in their great hall. It was haunting hearing their chanting as we explored the grounds. Before climbing up the 268 steps to the foot of the Tian Tan Buddha statue we purchase a meal ticket for $68 (€6.50) which gave us access to the museum inside the statue in addition to granting us access to the on site vegetarian restaurant for a meal afterwards.  
The grounds of the Lo Pin Monastery

The Tian Tan Buddha statue (also known as the Big Buddha) was only erected in 1993 but has become a favourite with visiting tourists and pilgrims. It is 34 metres high making it the worlds largest seated outdoor Buddha.

The Big Buddha is seated facing mainland China, one hand raised giving a blessing to all.
Vinnie in front of the 268 steps which lead up to the Buddha

Opposite the statue are the grounds of the Po Lin Monastery, regarded as one of the most important in all of Hong Kong. We enjoyed lunch in the Monastery's vegetarian restaurant. There is also a snack shop (again vegetarian). Included where 6 courses of food and black tea. It was delicious.
Our vegetarian dinner provided by the monks
We explored the grounds a little before leaving to the make the return journey back home.

Some of the many incense burners and pots around the monastery 

The queue for the bus back was worse than coming up, but this time there was no shelter from the direct sun light, so we did what the locals do, we took out our umbrellas!

Vinnie keeping the sun off himself. It was 32c at this point. 
Arriving back in Tung Chung we spend some time at the outlet mall they had build around the metro station. 
Pacific Coffee is their local Starbucks. This one, located in the Citygate outlet mall had a stunning backdrop
Before heading back to the apartment to ventured out to Festival Walk Mall, another mega mall.
Festival Walk Shopping Mall

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