Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lantau Island and the Big Buddha

2 November: I woke up late, as I had not slept well through the night. In addition, the weather forecast called for rain all day and I was ready to have a day of downtime. That was not to be. It did rain overnight but looking out the window, we couldn't tell if it was going to rain or if it was just another hazy day. Reenie and I decided to go to Lantau Island to see the Buddha, the largest outdoor seated Buddha in the world, instead of visiting a museum nearby.

It was great to have the Octopus card, which we used on the subway to get to the starting point of our journey: a 3.5-mile cable car ride. Although it was overcast with thick clouds in the mountains, it was a pleasant ride and we could still see into the distance. Nearby was the Hong Kong airport, which we saw several planes take off…thank goodness in the opposite direction of the cable cars. As we neared the Ngong Ping village, we could see the Buddha in the distance sitting on a high hill.

We purchased a combination ticket that included the small museum and lunch at the vegetarian restaurant at the Po Lin monastery. Having read about the Ngong Ping village, we quickly walked through skipping the shops and restaurants. It was very touristy indeed. There are 268 steps to get to the base of the Buddha, sitting with one hand up and the other on his lap. Made of bronze, the Buddha is impressive. Surrounding the Buddha are smaller statues making offerings to the Buddha.

As we strolled around, the clouds cleared and we had blue skies again. I watched one mountain peak and the clouds that crossed over. It was fun to watch because you could see the clouds being pulled down by the winds.

Our vegetarian lunch was filling but I was not impressed at all. Our vegetarian lunch in Chengdu was much tastier.

While Reenie didn’t care for the ride on the cable car I didn’t care for the bus ride down! The driver zipped down the windy road fast, barely slowing down for the curves. No one seemed to mind. Along the way to the Mui Wo port, we passed a jail. It was in a nice location, right on the water. Nice beach views! I wonder if the prisoners ever get to swim in the ocean.

We took the boat back to Hong Kong and it was dark by the time we arrived. A quick jump on the Star Ferry and we were back in Kowloon.

We dined at Jimmy's Restaurant and ordered their prime rib dinner special. It's located within walking distance of the hotel. The waiters were attentive and the food was very good. The special came with soup, the entrée with vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, dessert (crème caramel) and coffee or tea. It had rained while we were eating, so after dinner, we just went back to the room to pack our bags.

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