March 12, 2013

Lantau, a buddhist island in Hong Kong

My first time in Asia. I’m really excited. Everything is different from home, it’s better than I expected! Shopping, food, crowded streets, buildings under construction hold by bamboo sticks… I thought everyone spoke English in Hong Kong  but, how wrong I was!

When you think about Hong Kong, you imagine a big city with huge buildings. That’s true, It’s full of skyscrapers. But what you wouldn’t imagine is that exists a green island where you couldn’t find high buildings: 

To reach the island, take the underground, line 3, towards Tung Chung and Disneyland Resort. Once there, you get on a cable car that takes you to one of the highest points of Lantau. From the cable car you can see Hong Kong’s airport. A huge chunk of concrete that was reclaimed from the sea in order to have more land for its construction.

After a spectacular journey of about half an hour where you have amazing views of the island, you get to the final destination. I must say that the view from the cable car worth the trip and it’s usually pleasant, although we had the bad luck that a wasp entered in the car and we were quite overwhelmed thinking we could be bitten anytime.

So what we expected once you get up? The famous Buddha of Tian Tan. A giant statue of 34 meters high and 250 tons of weight, the largest sitting Buddha in the world that summits Mount Ngong Ping. He sits on a lotus leaf, surrounded by small figures representing immortality.

Before visiting the Buddha, do not forget to enter in Po Lin Monastery, the most important Buddhist temple in Hong Kong. For Buddhists, it is essential to pray when you enter in the temple, carrying in their hands a burning incense stick, which is placed in small shrines where they can also leave offerings of fruit and flowers. When you enter into the Monastery, you feel that the smell of incense leaves you as sedated. It is a quiet and mystic place full of small golden statues and colorful walls. The monks are sitting on the floor praying, with yellow or orange robes that gives meaning to this visit. Leaving the temple, you have a sense of relaxation within you.

To reach the Buddha, you have to climb over 260 stairs. When you're down you see how steep is the climb and think you will not be able to go up! But slowly and occasionally stepping in, you will climb it smoothly.

Once up, the views are beautiful. The whole island from above, so green, and the huge sea. It is worth climbing. The statue of Buddha is so close that all details are appreciated and I feel so small... You can enter inside the room that is below the Buddha; I went there, but I think it really is not worth it. Simply a permanent exhibition.

When you are ready to go back, if you are hungry or want to buy some souvenirs, you can do it in the Ngong Ping Village, a little town created exclusively for tourists. You can even make pictures with cardboard caricatures. This "village" is very touristy and personally, I didn’t like it, in fact, if you want to eat cheap, you better do it in the mall situated near the cable car. But it is obligatory to pass over there so, why not enjoy it making funny photos? So I did!

When I got back on the subway to Hong Kong, I was anxious to get to the hotel for resting, the images of Buddha from the island were in my mind. Visit Lantau Island is a must!