|Tian Tan (Big Buddha) Hong Kong
Visiting Tian Tan, better known as the Big Buddha, by cable car on the airport side of Lantau Island, has definitely been a highlight. When people think of Hong Kong, all they picture is skyscrapers, but in fact, most of Hong Kong is extremely green.
We took a bus (the right bus this time!) from Discovery Bay to Tung Chung station. You can get there using the MTR train service too. Across the road we found the Ngong Ping 360 station, for the cable car to the Big Buddha.
Here’s a tip: you’ll probably be in a cable car with the people around you in the queue. If you don’t want to be stuck with them for whatever reason, try and let someone go ahead of you in the queue! We had the pleasure of having these 4 delightful lads (not!) in our pod. They played games and took phone calls all the way up, and their big luggage obscured the view on the floor, which you pay extra for if electing for the ‘crystal bottom’ pods! In hindsight, perhaps we could have made a plan, I am sure …
The views from up the cable car are pretty spectacular, so do try and pick a clear day.
: you can book tickets a day in advance
to avoid the queues, so check the weather forecast, and if it looks good, book ahead – it’s a bit cheaper too.
Once we got to the top, we headed straight for the Big Buddha, which is already visible from the cable car. He is big! Pretty impressive. The one thing you can’t see until you’re up close, is that he has, what we know as a swastika, on his chest. The gates at the top of the steps have the same emblem on it. So I did a bit a research. Seems like it is an ancient emblem that means: “well, good, auspicious, luck, success, prosperity“. Ironic that it was hi-jacked by the Nazis!
While we were up there, we were watching everyone buy and light incense as offerings around the Monastery. Some of those incense sticks are more like incense logs! I will publish a few on Facebook. I have never seen them so huge. Next minute, an alarm went off (which we thought to have some spiritual meaning), but next we hear sirens, and the fire brigade was there! Perhaps not burnt toast, but an incense accident? Definitely didn’t seem like a disaster, as not too much was happening, and we left.
The Monastery is beautiful: brightly coloured and very photogenic. And although you can’t clearly see it on this picture, imagine the backdrop is beautifully lush and green.
Another tip: don’t believe the tourist blogs that say you should have the vegetarian lunch (£15) in the Monastery. It is definitely not very good. It is certainly edible, but it’s very bland, runs like a sausage factory as they usher people in and out, and it isn’t the only place to eat in Ngong Ping Village, which is a well run, pleasant, efficient, manufactured tourist village. It is better than I am making it sound. Ngong Ping Village reminds me a little of Disney: perfectly manicured, pretty, clean, many places to eat and has sparkling toilets!
This is not the Hong Kong people think about visiting, but certainly worth a trip. If the weather wasn’t 33C (feels like 38C with humidity per the Weather App, and we almost melted! ), I think we would have stayed up there a bit longer, and taken a few of the many paths around the area. Looks like lovely walks. You can even walk all the way up, but it would be a l-o-o-o-o-n-g old walk. But we loved the cable car up and down – the views are spectacular and the trip is quite long, so lots of sights to take in.
When you get back to Tung Chung – you can treat yourself to a bit of retail therapy! It’s a Retail Outlet Centre, and all the big brands sell their goods for cheap. Well, I say cheap, but cheap I mean, a lot less then you’d pay elsewhere if you’re into branded goods.
If you want to see a few more photos of this trip, take a look on our Instagram or Facebook Accounts: just search for @TimHermolle and @LiezlHesketh.