One week of hectic sightseeing in Hong Kong. I was in serious need of a change of pace.
Lantau Island promised to be just the sanctuary I was looking for. With my trusted Octopus card in tow, I boarded the Tung Chung line MTR and headed to Lantau.
After exiting at Tung Chung station, I skipped the serpentine queue for the cable car to Ngong Ping (the complex that houses the Tian Tan Buddha) and took a bus instead.
The bus takes a circuitous route to the top and the hour long ride can seem like an eternity for anyone with a weak stomach. But I couldn’t have been bothered. The passing vistas were mesmerizing! The overcast sky and low clouds added an air of mystique to the dark green hills. The thoughts of Hong Kong’s dizzying skyscrapers were a thing of the past.
The bus dropped me off at the Ngong Ping piazza and I took a few moments to soak in the beauty and tranquillity of the place. The ornate archway, the imposing Tian Tan Buddha, the Po Lin Monastry, the verdant hillscapes. A fitting abode for the benevolent Buddha!
Completed in 1993, the Tian Tan (meaning Altar of Heaven) Buddha, is unique in the fact that it is north facing while all the other great Buddha statues in the world face southwards. The serene bronze figurine is angled to overlook China and bestow its blessings on the Chinese people.
268 steps (and many breaks) later, I reached the base of the Tian Tan Buddha.
Despite weighing over 250 tons, the face of the Tian Tan Buddha radiates a fragile beauty and has a compassionate aura.
Six smaller deities make offerings to the Enlightened One, who is seated on a lotus pedestal.
I walked around the statue taking in the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the South China Sea. The perfect place to be alone and contemplate about life!
Hungry from all the climbing (and contemplating!), I headed to the Po Lin (Lotus) monastery for some much needed refreshment. From its humble beginnings in 1906, the monastery today is a world famous centre of Buddhism.
It’s also well known for its restaurant that serves Chinese vegetarian delicacies and fragrant tea. I bought my coupon for a regular meal (HK$ 78/-) and waited patiently in the dining hall for the food to arrive.
The portions were generous and the food, wholesome. I savoured every bit of the vegetable and tofu dishes, a feast for both the eyes and tastebuds.
Feeling energized, I spent some time strolling through the monastery gardens. Soon it was time to head back.
I walked across the piazza to the Ngong Ping retail complex and bought a ticket for the cable car ride back to Tung Chung station. The 25-minute ride over the rolling hills of Lantau and the glistening South China Sea left me spellbound.
A fabulous way to end my Hong Kong odyssey! It was going to be really hard getting back to reality.