Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ups and Downs With The Seated Buddha of Lantau Island

No, not just any Buddha, but the world's largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha (note all the caveats).

This Hong Kong excursion started with a ferry ride to the island of Lantau, home of the Giant Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, both situated on the plateau of Ngong Ping at an elevation of 738m (2,421 ft). It was built as recently as 1993 and apparently doesn't have a lot of historical significance but it was still interesing to see, especially since a number of monks were among our fellow tourists.

Once we'd gotten off that somewhat bumpy "fast" ferry, we found a quaint local restaurant (starts with "Mc") located at the base of a housing high-rise, where we settled our stomachs with cups of coffee while awaiting the bus that carried us on a somewhat exciting ride across the island to Buddha.

We entered the monastery area, bought lunch tickets, and, what else, walked up the 260 steps to the top.

We weren't the only tourists snapping photos either.

Once you've walked around the world's largest seated bronze outdoor Buddha, it's time for lunch at the monastery. Unfortunately, the vegetarian lunch was fairly bland, but it was certainly presented attractively.

Then, after wandering around the monastery for awhile...

It was time to return to the MTR station not far from the airport by riding the Ngong Ping Cable Car a couple of thousand feet back down to sea level. We paid a bit extra for the "crystal" experience which allowed us to use a shorter queue and turned out to be a glass-bottom cable car. We caught some good views of the airport (also on Lantau) even on this cloudy day during our descent.

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