Hong Kong itself is an island, surrounded by several smaller islands, while connected to Mainland China is Mongkok (also part of Hong Kong) which is where I stayed during my visit. There's not a lot of land available so the signature skyscraper apartments sprung up everywhere, winding up mountain sides and glistening in the sun. Given the density of populace, Mongkok and Hong Kong can be almost incomprehensibly crowded at times. For a bit of respite my single serving friend from the previous night's adventures and I agreed to meet on Tung Chung, the nearest train station to the Tian Tan Buddha of Lantau island. At 112 feet (34 meters) tall, he's a majestic thing to behold, perched peacefully atop a beautiful forested mountain. Climbing up 268 steps enshrouded with mist the looming figure slowly reveals himself...and all this, of course, is after you take a glass-bottomed cable car from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, soaring over crystalline waters and lush landscapes. Believe it or not, this was not my first encounter with a big Buddha. My very first was in Kamakura, Japan...still, I greatly enjoy visiting these statues and was quite excited to see one in Hong Kong!
Once you disembark from the cable cars, you walk through an ornate gateway only to be greeted by the 12 Generals of the Chinese zodiac and several small shops. If you have the time, there are other things to see- pink dolphins, or the Po Lin monastery, for instance. This trip was focused upon seeing the large bronze figure who weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons), one of the largest of his kind. The weather was cool and grey, a thick fog proliferating the high altitude area where the Buddha rests. This did not stop the flow of tourists and locals ascending the stairs, eager to catch a glimpse of the big Buddha himself. Once you reach the peak where he perches, you have the option of paying a small fee to gain entrance to the interior of the statue. We both agreed and took in the sights, only to be given an ice cream cone at the end! It was a surreal experience, to be sure. As we were walking back towards the cable cars, a lone cow came lazily meandering up the street towards us, paying no mind to the humans in their midst. They had important bovine business to attend to, surely.
More photos after the jump!
This was all after a quick breakfast in Mongkok, of course. There was a tiny restaurant/shop I'd pass on my walk to the nearest train station where they had a bounty of different dishes being kept warm in a giant steamer. While I had no clue what I was necessarily ordering, everything was affordable and delicious! On this particular day, I was seated at a small table next to their beverage refrigerators- after sitting for a brief moment, a stack of carry-out boxes fell off the refrigerators onto my shrimp dish above. Womp. After being in Japan for over a year and a half by this point, I half expected a shop keeper to rush over and check that I was OK...instead I got a glare, as if I'd intentionally caused the packaging to fall, as the woman grabbed the boxes away. I ate my food without complaint- it was still delicious!
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my trek to Hong Kong!
Check back soon for the next update!