Sunday, September 28, 2014

You want Buddhas? We got BIG Buddhas!

[caption id="attachment_1858" align="aligncenter" width="533"]IMG_7255 Video Boy was fascinated by this in our mini-bar in our Hong Kong hotel. He hated it. But I quite liked it, despite the unfortunate name.[/caption]

We went to Hong Kong on our last cruise - we spent two days there, but stayed on the Diamond Princess overnight. This holiday started in Hong Kong and finished in Singapore. My preference was to stay a extra days post-cruise in Singapore, but the flights worked out way more expensive if we did it that way and also the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix was on, making hotel accommodation ridiculously expensive, so we decided to stay in Hong Kong pre-cruise instead. There were a number of things we didn't get to see last time, and in a city as big as Hong Kong, there is always more to see and do. Number 1 on our list of things we missed out on last was the Tian Tan Big Buddha on Lantau Island.

We decided to utilise our Octopus cards and further conquer the MTR system. You can see that Video Boy has the map and our plan of action all sorted and it was much easier navigating without our suitcases. Did I mention it is hot in Asia this time of year? Hot and humid! So unlike March last year, where we didn't take jumpers and froze to death. And so, below, you see the first of many, MANY shots of me with red, sweaty face. If you're good, I'll show you a picture of my girls later on ;-)

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We arrived on Lantau Island and made our way to the cable car station. But first - plastic, decorated elephants. Because it's all about the elephants:




To get to the Big Buddha, you have to ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car - a 5.7km journey that takes 25 minutes and passes over some pretty amazing scenery. We opted for the standard car, but you can ride in the Crystal Cabin, which is basically the same, but with a see-through floor and a much longer queue! It was a spectacular trip!


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[caption id="attachment_1869" align="aligncenter" width="533"]IMG_7280 Look close - there are people WALKING up there! Are they crazy?????[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1870" align="aligncenter" width="800"]IMG_7284 Although, the view must be spectacular![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1871" align="aligncenter" width="533"]IMG_7287 Don't go chasing waterfalls...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1872" align="alignnone" width="800"]IMG_7292 Look! A big Buddha![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1877" align="aligncenter" width="800"]IMG_7293 And cows![/caption]

Once we got to the top, we had to walk through the Ngong Ping Village - lots of shops (of course there would be shops, this IS Asia, after all), but not too over the top.


[caption id="attachment_1879" align="aligncenter" width="800"]IMG_7304 And because there are lots of dogs everywhere...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1880" align="aligncenter" width="800"]IMG_7342 ...of course, no dogs are allowed![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1886" align="aligncenter" width="800"]IMG_7300
A long way from home![/caption]

IMG_0724Of course anything worth doing/seeing in this world comes with a price tag. And yes, we paid entry fees, but the real entry fee was paid in sweat. To climb this staircase:



Frig me!! 268 steps. 33 degrees celcius and 95% humidity. And a tad overweight...let's do this!


[caption id="attachment_1885" align="aligncenter" width="598"]IMG_0730 Getting there...[/caption]

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I made it! Hot and sweaty (a bit of a theme happening...), but OK.

The Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha is a large (really large) bronze statue of Buddha Amoghasiddhi. It was only completed in 1993 and is one of 5 large Buddha statues in China. It is 32 metres (112 feet) tall. It sits atop a replica of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. His right hand is raised representing the removal of affliction.





Surrounding the Buddha are 6 smaller bronze statues of divas offering things to Buddha to gain enlightenment:


Now, this is more than just a giant Buddha designed to bring tourists - the statue is the centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong and nearby is the Po Lin Monastery, which was actually founded in 1906.

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We could have eaten at the Monastery's vegetarian cafe, but it was so hot and quite crowded, so we opted for something a bit cooler:


[caption id="attachment_1904" align="aligncenter" width="800"]IMG_7345 OMG!!! The best gelato EVAH![/caption]

And then back on the cable car and another 3 MTR trains back to the hotel. I'm a bit glad we chose the hotel with the pool, because SWEAT. The water wasn't what you'd call refreshing and the humidity made my camera fog up, but it was sooooo good.

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After our swim, we managed to get enough energy together to head out into the steamy night and check out the last remaining night market in Hong Kong - the Temple St Night Market. We wandered through the endless stalls. Did we buy anything? No. Because if you want to go shopping whilst on holiday, you do NOT go with my husband. Nuff said.






We did manage to eat, though. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't amazing street food like in Beijing (maybe we just were in the wrong spot?), but there were great little restaurants offering cheap and tasty food. And maybe the best, most refreshing beer ever, or maybe it just seemed that way because, sweat.

IMG_7377 IMG_7383IMG_7379 IMG_7380 IMG_7381And so it was back to the hotel room and the airconditioning. Video Boy had not slept well the night before (he ended up in the bath with his iPad so he didn't wake us and ended up sleeping there - I'm SUCH a good mum, because I really wanted to take his picture and share it with the entire internet, but didn't).

Get set for some more Hong Kong exploration in the next exciting installment!




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