My Hong Kong Lantau Sky, Land, and Sea Adventure
Giant Buddha Statue near Po-Lin Monastary
My Hong Kong Lantau Adventure
During the period April 13 through April 16 of 2015, my wife, a neighboring British couple, and I made a joint trip to Hong Kong. On the second day of our holiday, April 14, at the suggestion of David, we all decided to visit the giant Buddha statue near the Po-Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. Little did I know at that time that we would be seeing and experiencing more than the Buddha statue.
In this article, I happily recall our sky, land, and sea Lantau adventure. It begins with a spectacular 5.7-kilometer cable car journey up into the mountains. After describing our tour down to a fishing village and boat ride, I conclude with the experience of taking a walking tour to the giant Tian Tan Buddha Statue and Po-Lin Monastery.
Hong Kong or 香港, Xianggang in Mandarin Chinese, literally means fragrant harbor. As we know it today, Hong Kong is a special administrative area of China. Up until 1997, however, it was a British colony.
In land area, Hong Kong is comprised of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and other islands. Lantau is the biggest of the other islands.
Hong Kong is a major business and financial center in East Asia. With a population of approximately seven million, it is a bustling metropolis with bank, office, and apartment skyscrapers built primarily along Victoria Harbor.
Why Visit the Giant Buddha on Lantau?
While planning our sightseeing vacation in Hong Kong, my British friend David strongly recommended that we visit the giant Buddha on Lantau which he had seen 10 years before. Perhaps this suggestion was made because both his wife and mine are Buddhists, and they would enjoy the outing. Since we had two full days in Hong Kong, a half day trip to Lantau would leave us ample time to go shopping on Kowloon and also take the tram up to Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island.
Giant Buddha Statue Near Po-Lin Monastary
Getting to Ngong Ping Village on Lantau
After an early breakfast at our Holiday Inn Express Hotel in the Sheung Wan District of Hong Kong Island, we walked a few blocks to the Sheung Wan metro stop to catch the subway. Our first stop was in Kowloon where David wanted to take his laptop for repairs. We got there at 9:30 and had to wait until a computer shop opened at 10:00.
By the time we were finished at the computer shop, it was already 10:30. Our next plan of action was to get back on the Metro and take it to Tung Chung, the gateway stop to Lantau.
Upon arriving at Tung Chung after a 30-minute subway ride, we walked across the street and headed to the long line of people who were waiting to buy tours to the giant Buddha on Lantau and other attractions. The 45-minute wait in line was a little tiring, but really not that uncomfortable because the weather wasn't hot and my wife found some other tourists from Thailand to talk with.
After getting to the box office for Lantau attractions, we all decided to book the tour from Ngong Ping Village to Tai-O, a fishing village, which included a guided bus and boat ride, and a walking tour to the Po-Lin Monastery past the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue. This package tour which also included cable car transit to Ngong Ping and back to Tung Chung was 390 Hong Kong dollars or about $60 U.S. dollars.
One of the advantages of booking a tour was being able to immediately get on a cable car headed up to Ngong Ping Village. Then the fun began. Our 5.7-kilometer journey was absolutely spectacular. While slowly ascending into the mountains, we all witnessed panoramic views of Tung Chung Bay, the Hong Kong International Airport, Ngong Ping Plateau, South China Sea, and the big Buddha. After getting off the cable car, we entered Ngong Ping Village where we prepared to meet our tour guide and bus to the Tai-O fishing village.
Hong Kong Metro Map
Riding the Subway from Hong Kong to Kowloon
Cable Car Ride from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping Village
Our Tai-O Fishing Village Excursion
Arriving at Ngong Ping Village at around 1:00, we learned that our tour bus to the Tai-O fishing village would be departing at 1:30. While waiting for the departure of the tour bus, we all satisfied our hunger with either six inch or foot long subs at Subway.
A few minutes after 1:30 we boarded a bus with 25 other tourists and a Chinese tour guide who spoke both Mandarin Chinese and English. On the way down to the fishing village, we learned that fishing was a dying industry in Hong Kong. I was surprised to learn that at least half of Hong Kong's seafood was imported due to the polluted water and sea near Hong Kong. Consequently, the population of Tai-O was down to 2,000 and decreasing due not only to older people leaving the fishing industry but also because almost all of the young people were leaving the village and going into the city to find work.
The tour guide also told us some interesting facts about the Chinese fishermen. They are especially superstitious and consider it bad luck living on land. Hence their houses are all built on stilts over the water.
During our hour-long stay at the fishing village, we spent about 30 minutes taking a boat ride along the fishermen's homes and also out into their fishing grounds. The other 30 minutes was spent walking around the village and sampling some of the local oysters, clams, squid, and dried fish.
Tai-O Fishing Village on Lantau
Fishing Waters Off Tai-O Fishing Village
Walking Tour of Po-Lin Monastery and Giant Tian Tan Buddha
Around 3:30 our tour bus returned to Ngong Ping Village. Next on our agenda was a walking tour to the Po-Lin Buddhist Monastery. This monastery was founded in 1906 and presently has 80 monks according to our tour guide.
On the way to the Po-Lin monastery, our guide pointed out the 12 divine generals that lined the path leading to the monastery. These 12 statues are dedicated to 12 heavenly generals revered in some Buddhist denominations. At the monastery, they function as protective deities.
As we approached the monastery, monks were inside chanting. Our destination was The Great Hall of Treasure which housed the three Buddhas - Sakyamuni, Dipaukurara, and Maitreya.
After leaving the monastery, the tour guide directed us in the direction of the giant Tian Tan Buddha. I was surprised to learn that this bronze Buddha statue completed in 1993 is the world's largest Buddha statue. It is 34 meters tall and weighs 250 tons.
At this point, the tour guide left us and we were encouraged to climb the 268 steps up to the giant Tian Tan Buddha. My wife declined because her back was killing her, but I ascended all of the steps and was rewarded with a great view of the monastery and mountainous scenery below and also a view of the South China Sea.
One of the Divine Generals Guarding the Po-Lin Monastery
Great Hall of Treasure at Po-Lin Monastary
At 5:00, the four of us caught a cable car back to Tong Chung. Although we were very tired, we had seen some beautiful and wonderful scenery and learned about Hong Kong fishermen and the Po-Lin Monastery and giant Tian Tan Buddha statue.
The Po-Lin Monastery
The South China Sea
© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn