Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 12: Po Lin Monastery, Tian Tan Buddha

We took a 40-minute MTR ride to Lantau Island, the largest of Hong Kong's 230+ islands (and the one where the international airport is located), to visit the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha. Upon arrival at Lantau, we followed the signs to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, a relatively-new 25-minute aerial ride from the MTR station at Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, where the monastery and the Buddha are located. The only alternative to the cable car is a one-hour bus journey through Lantau. The ride there was spectacular; the ride back was terrifying. There was really no difference between the two, other than my sudden realization that I was suspended by a cable more than 50 meters in the air, but I started to freak out and wish we had opted for the bus trip instead. (And, as it turns out, I learned only afterwards that the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car only reopened in December after a cable car fell from the cable last year - the car was empty at the time, but that was not much reassurance to me. Had I known that at the time, I surely would have opted for the bus.)

Upon arrival, we bought tickets for the Tian Tan Buddha, which came with a vegetarian lunch served cafeteria-style at the monastery. We chose to eat lunch first, then head up to the Buddha. Lunch was quite good. Each table (we were seated at our own table, although it isn't uncommon for strangers to be seated together) received a bowl of eggplant soup, a pot of steamed white rice, and four entrees: vegetarian spring rolls, mushrooms with bok choy, stir-fried tofu with vegetables, and ma po tofu with peas and corn. After lunch, we wandered the monastery grounds. Po Lin Monastery is an active Buddhist monastery founded more than 100 years ago by reclusive Buddhist monks. We only saw a couple of monks while we walked the grounds. Afterwards, we headed up the 260 steps to see the world's largest seated bronze Buddha. Built in 1993, Tian Tan Buddha is 102 feet high and weighs 250 tons. Standing below it, it appears absolutely massive, and there are also great views of the monastery and Lantau Island from the top.

The cable car to Ngong Ping:

View of Lantau Island from the cable car:

Looking towards Tian Tan Buddha from Po Lin Monastery:

Tian Tan Buddha:

Close-up of the Buddha:

Overlooking Po Lin Monastery from the Buddha:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like you had good views. Glad you liked the lunch. I didn't warn you about the cable car because I feel it is super safe now after the accident :-)