Sunday, June 13, 2010
The Big Buddha on Lantau Island
Go to Big Buddha, they said.
Ok, we said.
We took the metro for a 25-minute ride, then got onto this cable car for another 25 minutes.
The view was stunning. In every direction.
Down below we could see the conical hats of fishermen and fisherwomen working on the shore. Were they clamming? Were they crabbing? It was a hot and humid day, and we fanned ourselves as we glided over their toil.
Eventually the Buddha came into view. Can you see it?
There he was, residing over one of the many verdant hills of Lantau Island. The low clouds looked like incense.
To get to the Buddha, you must first pass through a commercial "village" that is packed with gelato shops and restaurants and gift shops and Starbucks.
There is even an interactive ride/show where you can pay to get closer to the Buddha.
It gets worse. There is a fake tree called the Bodhi Wishing Tree, and you can write down a wish and place it there. Which sounds ok, until you read that to get the tag you must spend HK$150 at the gift shop.
I would love to know what the monks at the Po Lin Monastery think of all this.
But once you get past the commercial strip, you arrive at the base of the Buddha, and as yet there are no air-conditioned escalators to whisk you to the top.
It's not such a long walk after all, and at the top there's a cool breeze to reward you for your efforts.
Everyone wants to get their picture taken with the Buddha.
Afterwards we went to the Po Lin Monastery, where the monks are very used to the presence of outsiders.
They served a basic vegetarian meal that happened to include one of my all-time favorite dishes: baby bok choi and mushrooms.
They also served up some wisdom.
After the meal we sat in the courtyard, listening to their chanting and watching the many birds and enormous black butterflies flit around.
Filled up on peace, it was time to head back.