Our second day in Hong Kong had one major goal: Big Buddha.
This one tourist site took up almost our entire day, but I don’t regret it at all. Officially known as the Tian Tan Buddha, this statue was the world’s largest seated Buddha until 2000. Located on the island of Lantau, the big Buddha can be seen from Macau on clear days. Below the Buddha as several halls with information and artifacts. If you make an offering for Buddha, then you are allowed to see the relic of (reportedly) Gautama (Siddhartha) Buddha.
To reach the Buddha we traveled by subway to Lantau. From there we hoped to ride the cable cars up to the site, but it started raining and lightening and apparently those are not prime conditions for cable car travel. Instead, we hopped on a bus and rode up the steep hill to the top. The ride took about 40 minutes. The rain had just lifted when we arrived and left the most beautiful scene for us. The Buddha is seated high on a hill; he was surrounded by green hilltops with peaks that were covered in swiftly moving fog. It was gorgeous. We first took pictures from the bottom of the hill and wandered around the grounds. At the temple, we peeked in on a prayer ceremony and watched monks clear away old incense.
We climbed the many, many steps to the top. From that location, it is difficult to really see the Buddha. He is so big and you must bend your neck completely back to properly see him. There were several tourists, but it wasn’t crowded. Some were devout and could be found praying in various places; others used their selfie sticks to take photographs from every possible angle. (Selfie sticks are a big deal in Hong Kong; our hotel rented them out.) From the hilltop, we could see the ocean and tiny islands in the distance. We went back down and into the little tourist village (complete with a Starbucks!) It was all very clean and well thought out. We ducked into a few souvenir shops, but ended the outing with more pictures of the statue. Since the rain had stopped, we were able to ride the cable cars back down. Jared refused to ride in the “Crystal Cabin,” which has a glass floor. The ride down took about 20 minutes and was really peaceful. The island was so lush and green. We passed a tiny waterfall and had a great view of the airport.
Our meals on our second day were far more enjoyable than my lunch on the previous day. We had dim sum (one of my requirements for the trip) at DimDimSum Dim Sum. We ordered 6 tiny dishes and were stuffed. The dumplings and pineapple pastries were our favorite! For our supper, we found Mak’s noodles. A tiny, hole-in-the-wall place with wonderful noodles and great service.
We ended our day at Temple Street Night Market, which was located right next to our hotel. At the market, I realized that markets are not nearly as exciting to me as they used to be. I can see now how they are all very much alike. Our first market was Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar; I remember being mesmerized by every stall. However, markets are starting to seem normal to me. That makes me a little sad, because I miss some of that innocent wonder that comes from first travels. I didn’t let any of this stop me from shopping in the market. I haggled for some leather bound journals and two paintings. I may be accustomed to markets, but I still love them!
Jared wanted to replicate a picture that he had seen of the market. It was taken from a high vantage point and looked down on the colorful, lighted stalls. We kept scanning the buildings around us, looking for where we could go to take the picture. Then we found it. A parking garage. Tents of drunk karaoke singers surrounded the building and we headed straight for it. Parking garages have always made me a little twitchy. It seems like the perfect place for a terrifying situation. We found the elevator and hit the highest number. We were deposited on a completely empty floor. Somehow, the emptiness made me even more nervous about exploring a parking garage in Hong Kong at midnight. Jared found a spot he liked, set up his camera, and settled in. Our photo sessions are never quick, so I knew we’d be there for awhile. At first, I just whimpered and stood guard. Jared had to keep telling me that I was overreacting; so, I grabbed my camera and started playing with it to calm myself down. Once I started framing photos, my frame of mind shifted. I turned to the city scene before me and snapped away. I was delighted with lights that were showing up so brightly in my camera. Click HERE for Jared’s awesome pictures of Temple Street Night Market and our entire trip to Hong Kong!
And that’s how we ended our short, but full days in Hong Kong. Bellies full of noodles and cameras full of memories.
*Ps! On our first day in Hong Kong, we went to the Central district. As we were wandering around I saw a little corner filled with couches and angry signs stating this was “Occupy Hong Kong.” I was intrigued because I didn’t realized that Occupy Anywhere was still happening. As I listened to All Things Considered on NPR today, I was surprised to hear a member of Occupy Hong Kong interviewed about the current unrest. So cool! I was just there! (This worries my mother immensely; as we also stumbled upon protests in Bangkok just before the coup. I think it means we have impeccable travel timing.)