Big Buddha

soaring above lantau island in the ngong ping cable car

Sunday, April 5:  After leaving Po Lin Monastery, I walk through the tacky and noisy Ngong Ping Village, “a culturally themed village designed and landscaped to reflect the local customs, as well as to express the cultural and spiritual integrity of the Ngong Ping area” (from a brochure: 360 Lantau Culture & Heritage Tour).  Personally, this kind of place is not my thing; it’s like a super-commercialized Busch Gardens or Disneyland.  I walk quickly through and get on the Ngong Ping Cable Car, “Asia’s longest bi-cable ropeway” over Lantau Island. This cable car ride is really impressive, as we can see the Big Buddha, the rooftops of the monastery, the sea, Hong Kong Airport, and the area of Tung Chung, where I will catch the metro back into Hong Kong.

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

We can see the Big Buddha with his hand raised in peaceful gesture on Ngong Ping Plateau.

view of the Big Buddha from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

view of the Big Buddha from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View of the sea from the cable car

View of the sea from the cable car

Some parts of the cable ride are a little scary, especially as the land drops away from us into a deep valley and we’re really high up.

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

We can see the Hong Kong Airport off to the left.  I didn’t come in to this airport, as I flew into Shenzhen and crossed the border on foot.  Next time, because of the convenient metro at the airport, I think I’d fly directly into Hong Kong.

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Hong Kong Airport from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Hong Kong Airport from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

It looks like some kind of controlled burn is happening in the hills near Tung Chung.

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming in to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

View from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming into Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Coming into Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping Cable Car

I love the green boats lined up neatly along the shore in the harbor.

Boats below the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Boats below the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Tung Chung

Tung Chung

Green boats beneath the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Green boats beneath the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Green boats all in a row

Green boats all in a row

Tung Chung

Tung Chung

Going in to Tung Chung

Going in to Tung Chung

Bridge to Tung Chung

Bridge to Tung Chung

When I got off the cable car in Tung Chung to head to the metro, I see there is HUGE line to get on the cable car from this end.  Luckily, from the Ngong Ping end, I had no line at all.  There must be several hundred people in this line! I get on the metro and it’s quite a long ride back to Hong Kong Island, but it’s a lot faster than the ferry would have been!  Next up, Victoria Peak. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Big Buddha, China, Hong Kong, Lantau, Ngong Ping Cable Car, Tian Tan Buddha, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

po lin monastery & the big buddha on lantau island

Sunday, April 5:  This morning, my plan is to head straightaway to Lantau Island by ferry.  Since I have to fly back to Nanning on Monday, I’m afraid I won’t have time to go on Monday, so I must do it today.  I have all day, and my hope is to go to Lantau and possibly the fishing village of Tai O, and then to make it to the Peak on Hong Kong Island in the late afternoon. Of course, it’s the Qing Ming holiday in Hong Kong as it is throughout all of China, so the crowds are in force.  I take the metro to the Admiralty station on Hong Kong Island, and head straight for the Outlying Islands Ferry Terminal at Pier 6, walking past the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and Two International Finance Center toward Victoria Harbour.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Hong Kong Central

Hong Kong Central

Hong Kong Central

Hong Kong Central

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

At Pier 6, which is right next to the Star Ferry Pier, I stand in line to get on the ferry to Peng Chau on Lantau Island.  Sadly, the next ferry is already full, so I have to stand in line another 30 minutes to get on the following ferry.  It’s so frustrating, always having to fight the crowds on these Chinese holidays.

Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour

Star Ferry Terminal

Star Ferry Terminal

It takes nearly an hour to get to Lantau Island.  Once we disembark, we head directly for the bus to Po Lin Monastery, where again we have to wait in a queue until the bus allows us to begin boarding.  That takes a while.  Finally, we’re on our way, about a 40 minute drive to the Monastery.  We get dropped in front of this gate.

Gate to Po Lin Monastery

Gate to Po Lin Monastery

The first thing I can see is the famous bronze Tian Tan Buddha, better known as the Big Buddha, a 34-meter-high sculpture erected in 1993 that shows the Sakyamuni Buddha sitting cross-legged on a lotus flower and facing north to look over the Chinese people.  He sits prominently on a hill on Ngong Ping Plateau. According to Discover Hong Kong: The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery:  “The eyes, lips, incline of the head and right hand, which is raised to deliver a blessing to all, combine to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Buddha, which took 12 years to complete.” I climb up the steps to the Big Buddha along with the crowds of tourists.

Big Buddha

Big Buddha

Sadly, the sun is behind the Big Buddha so it’s difficult to get a good picture of his serene face.

Closer up to the Big Buddha

Closer up to the Big Buddha

According to Wikipedia, the statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It sits on a lotus, a symbol of purity in Buddhism, on top of a three-platform altar.  Six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” are posed around it, offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These symbolize the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment (Wikipedia: Tian Tan Buddha).

One of the

One of the “Offering of the Six Devas”

I love the statues of the Six Devas, which are quite striking.

One of the

One of the “Offering of the Six Devas”

One of the

One of the “Offering of the Six Devas”

One of the

One of the “Offering of the Six Devas”

From the back side of the Buddha, I have sweeping views of the island, the Zhujiang River Estuary, and the South China Sea.

The view from Tian Tan Buddha

The view from Tian Tan Buddha

View of Lantau from the Big Buddha

View of Lantau from the Big Buddha

mountain near Po Lin Monastery & The Big Buddha

mountain near Po Lin Monastery & The Big Buddha

“Offering of the Six Devas”

From one of the tiers of the Buddha, I can also see Po Lin Monastery nestled in the folds of the hills.

Po Lin Monastery from the Big Buddha

Po Lin Monastery from the Big Buddha

One of the

One of the “Offering of the Six Devas”

Finally, at this angle, I can get a slight view of the Buddha’s face.

Tian Tan Buddha, or the Big Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha, or the Big Buddha

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha

After awhile, I climb down from the Big Buddha to the Po Lin Monastery, where incense is burning in large stone and metal sand-filled containers and people are praying to the Buddha holding and prostrating with burning incense sticks.

Incense burner at Po Lin Monastery

Incense burner at Po Lin Monastery

Incense burners at Po Lin Monastery

Incense burners at Po Lin Monastery

Incense burning at Po Lin Monastery

Incense burning at Po Lin Monastery

Making offerings to the Buddha

Making offerings to the Buddha

Before I explore further, I go to a vegetarian restaurant at the monastery where I’ve bought a ticket for lunch.  It’s packed with mostly Chinese tourists.  I’m seated at a table with a small family of four, a solo Chinese woman traveler, and two Chinese men who seem to be friends. I guess this is the straggler table.  I’m served up a bunch of Chinese vegetables which are cooked in tons of oil.  I can feel my stomach rumbling as I eat it.  From then on, my day is ruined by stomach cramps.  I feel miserable the rest of the day.  I felt exactly this way in Kunming when Alex and I ate lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in a monastery.  Will I never learn? According to Lantau Online: Po Lin Monastery: The Po Lin Monastery can trace its history back to 1904 when three monks built a retreat on the site and named it Da Maopeng (“The Big Hut”).  Da Maopeng was renamed Po Lin in 1924 and it has grown in status with halls, gardens, and monuments.  The site also hosts a tea garden and two vegetarian restaurants.

At Po Lin Monastery

At Po Lin Monastery

Inside a hall at Po Lin Monastery

Inside a hall at Po Lin Monastery

Characters at Po Lin Monastery

Characters at Po Lin Monastery

Offerings to the Buddha at Po Lin Monastery

Offerings to the Buddha at Po Lin Monastery

The staircase leading up to the main temple, Da Xiong Bao Dian, has an ascending island of yellow flowers and a large incense burner partway up.

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Steps to the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Steps to the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Steps to the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Steps to the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside are beautiful lotus-shaped chandeliers, extravagantly painted ceilings, and huge rectangular and cylindrical-shaped banners hanging from the ceilings.

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Three bronze Buddhas, Sakyamuni, Dipamkarara and Maitreya, are enshrined in this main temple.  They represent Buddha’s past, present and future lives.  The temple also houses many Buddhist scriptures.

Three Buddhas inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Three Buddhas inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

The interior is lavishly but tastefully done. It’s simply stunning.

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Inside the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

The outside of the temple is no less impressive, with its colorful painted and intricately carved eaves.

Eaves of the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Eaves of the Main Temple at Po Lin Monastery

Another temple sits behind the main hall.  It holds five seated figures and boasts a gorgeous ceiling.

Another temple at Po Lin Monastery

Another temple at Po Lin Monastery

Again, the outsides of the temples are fabulous.

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Succulents at Po Lin Monastery

Succulents at Po Lin Monastery

Gate to Po Lin Monastery with Big Buddha on the hill

Gate to Po Lin Monastery with Big Buddha on the hill

All steps lead to the Big Buddha

All steps lead to the Big Buddha

Finally, I head out of the complex, where I’ve now decided, instead of going to the fishing village of Tai O, I’m going to take the famous Ngong Ping 360 cable-car to the Tung Chung metro line, where I can go directly back into Hong Kong Central, bypassing the ferry completely.

Categories: Asia, Big Buddha, Central, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong Observation Wheel, Lantau, Offering of the Six Devas, Po Lin Monastery, Star Ferry, Tian Tan Buddha, Travel, Victoria Harbor | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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