With the exception of some chronic sneezing and my back aching to the point that over the counter pills aren’t touching it tonight, today has been my first full day on vacation where my body hasn’t tried to completely shut me down. Oh how low the bar has been lowered.
Since things aren’t improving, more staying the same than improving, we swapped some things around today so that our trip out to Lantau got moved up. At least then, if things descend further before Sunday’s election, we’ve seen the main things on the list and we can skip town early with full insurance backing.
Skipping through some public transport stuff, including the pretty damaged Tung Chung station, and the fact that neither of us set an alarm so it was all hands on deck at 9:45 this morning, we started our day by riding the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car. This appears to have been the first operational day for a while, so we lucked out there.
The trip is surprisingly long for a cable car, then again it’s taking you a distance of over 5.5 kilometres and you get to see just how green this stunning island is. Also, you get the chance to see Hong Kong International Airport from the air – which is cool and unique. Regrettably we didn’t have the carriage to ourselves, but we were all just crossing over each other to take pictures anyway.
At the end of the ride is Ngong Ping Village – a purpose built area with shops and restaurants that has been done in a traditional Chinese architectural style. It’s a bit cheesy, but I really love stuff like this – especially at the end where they piped music in. Just revs up the magic a little bit.
Breakfast (well, lunch at that point) was finally a chance to have some Chinese style roasted meats. I went for the roasted goose, as you never see that in the UK, whilst my husband went for the more traditional pork. Since we were going to be climbing up the Buddha’s steps soon, a good meal made sense unless my body tried to have me faint again.
We walked past the signs warning us of feral cattle, as well as a feral cow peacefully snoozing, to reach Po Lin Monastery – one of the three things that we wanted to do whilst at altitude. This is the kind of structure I was hoping for with the Chi Lin Nunnery, but I’m glad that I got it here.
The main altar building with the three golden statues and the beautiful ceiling paintings were beautiful, equalled by the impressive carved stone columns and reliefs on the outside.
Next door to this was the larger Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, which was only completed a few years ago. I love these types of rooms just to see how they go about reaching the number of Buddhas in one space. Here they did something really cool by having the room tiled, where each tile was like a little ceramic statue of Buddha. It’s a far more efficient approach than the first room of this type that I saw back in Singapore, where it was individual miniature statues.
Big ticket item time. The Tian Tan Buddha, also known locally as the Big Buddha, with his 268 steps of thigh burn that I managed to do in one go because I was filled with the power of roast goose. It’s a lot of steps, but this stunning work of bronze really is something that you want to get close to. The level of detail and the serenity of the expression are something else when you get near the top. Also, this is the first time I’ve really seen one of these gigantic religious statues and that’ll always make the Tian Tin visit a special one.
A slower walk down, to try and take photos that showed off his awesomeness whilst fighting the extremely bright November sun, led us off to the final thing we wanted to do whilst up here – the Wisdom Path.
Reading online, I think we both thought this was some medium length hike with some large wooden planks with Chinese characters carved in. Well, we were half right. The walk itself is a small figure of eight path on an incline. It’s nice enough to do, but the walk there was probably more what we were looking for – especially as it gave us time with the mountain’s many butterflies.
Some slightly overpriced ice cream and a bus ride later and we got to the village of Tai O. There’s two real reasons to come here: one is see the traditional pole supported houses of the fishermen, the other is to try and see some pink dolphins. Both of these can be done for the low price of 30HKD as part of a half hour speedboat ride. We didn’t luck out with the dolphins, but the ride was really cool.
I didn’t really feel the need to buy anything fish-related, although I was close to considering some hanging little pufferfish before I quickly realised that these were real dried pufferfish with googly eyes in rather than something strictly man made. We did buy some gorgeously crispy chocolate flavoured egg waffle balls before boarding a wonderfully scenic bus down to the village of Mui Wo.
Seriously, for some of the views, this bus was worth doing just for the sake of doing it.
At Mui Wo our mission was simple, head for Silvermine Bay Beach and watch the world go by for a bit before boarding the ferry back to Central. So that’s what we did. Made a canine friend and enjoyed some peaceful time in lovely off-tourist season surroundings. Would have been nice to stay for a while longer, but it was already getting on a bit and by the time we boarded the ferry it had already gone completely dark.
Back on Hong Kong Island, I found a local restaurant on OpenRice that had good word of mouth and would give us the chance to have some Chinese cuisine in a more upmarket setting. There was so much on the menu that we ended up going with things on their ‘specialities’ section just to help narrow down the choice. As much as I enjoyed our soup, Beggar’s chicken and the lovely ribs – part of me does wonder what might have been. Excellent meal though so shan’t complain too much.
So that’s the end of another day and tomorrow will be the first of two theme park days. Have to say that, my aching back aside, I am so looking forward to some levity and some walruses. Should be a great one.