Ngong Ping and Tian Tan Buddha

China, Hong Kong

I visit Lantau Island, and see the 112 foot tall bronze Big Buddha

June 19th, 2015

We had reservations for the Ngong Ping cable car at 10:45am, and we spent a good portion of the morning getting to Lantau Island. The transit system went all the way across the harbor to Lantau Island, so our trip was pretty straight forward. Although home to the airport and to HK Disneyland, Lantau island is of the more scenic Islands of Hong Kong. The mountainous island is covered in jungle and surrounded by blue green ocean.
We grabbed a quick breakfast at the subway station on our way there, Wife Cakes!

Wife cake with red bean filling

Wife cake with red bean filling

A wife cake is a thin pastry with a flaky, buttery crust, and a warm, pasty center. I ordered one with red bean filling, and I also took a bite out of a coconut one. I wish I could have tried more flavors during my time in Hong Kong, they were delicious!
We also picked up additional snacks at a bakery upon arrival. I got a green tea cake roll to take with me on the cable car.
We made our way to the cable car entrance. The line was very long, and took almost a half an hour to get through. Thankfully, we had purchased our tickets online the night before, and didn’t have to wait in the additional ticket queue. After the long wait in line, we were grouped with a Chinese family in a single cable car.

Ngong Ping  Cable car

Ngong Ping Cable car

The cable car was hoisted up the mountain, and we were off over a green and blue landscape below.
The ride was around 20 minutes, and we spent the whole time taking pictures of the island below. An insane pathway twisted up the mountainside, with impossibly steep steps going up and down the hills. The path crossed bridges over waterfalls, and twisted underneath the jungle canopy.

Crazy pathway on Lantau Island

Crazy pathway on Lantau Island

Eventually, we spotted Tian Tan Buddha in the distance. Even from far away, the massive statue was daunting.

Tian Tan Buddha from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

Tian Tan Buddha from the Ngong Ping Cable Car

My excitement grew as we rocked closer and closer to the village.
When we exited the ride, we were spit out into tourist town. Cheesy Chinese music played through hidden speakers, and fancy souvenir shops lined the sides of the walkways.

Touristy area before Ngong Ping Village

Touristy area before Ngong Ping Village

There was even a subway sandwich place. We walked through the tourist area into Ngong Ping Village. The way was guarded by 12 soldier statues, each one with a helmet representing one of the zodiacs. Soon we entered a large open square where there was a massive white archway.

White Archway in Ngong Ping Village

White Archway in Ngong Ping Village

Walking to Tian Tan

Walking to Tian Tan

Just past the archway was the bottom of the steps leading up to the Big Buddha. We stopped for a while to admire the size of the statue and the perspective of the daunting steps leading up. We took photos at the bottom, asking each other whether or not it was culturally insensitive to pose like the Buddha.
By this point in the day, it had to have been 1:30-2:00, and the sun was beating down hard.

About to make the climb to Tian Tan Buddha

About to make the climb to Tian Tan Buddha

No shade was offered on the path. The stairs were steep, and we paused many times on the way up. After the previous days’ excessive walking, a few of the people in my group were suffering from extremely painful soreness. Sooner or later (hint: later) we made it to the top. The statue’s size was incredible.

The dauting Tian Tan

The dauting Tian Tan

Big Buddha Head

Big Buddha Head

Big Buddha hand

Big Buddha hand

 

 

It felt so surreal to be standing underneath the gargantuan bronze lotus on which the Buddha was sitting.

 

 

Also at the top of the stairs were six female figures, each holding an item of Buddhist significance.

 

Statues offering their gifts to Buddha

Statues offering their gifts to Buddha

Even those were massive. From the vantage point, we could see a huge portion of Lantau. Jungle stretched out in every direction, only interrupted by the azure pacific coastline. The top of Po Lin Monsastery could be seen peaking out above the jungle canopy, and the orange rooftop was a breathtaking contrast to the green.

View from the top

View from the top

We spotted spider webs near a patch of jungle close to the stone guardrail, where we saw massive multicolored jungle spiders. We walked all the way around Tian Tan Buddha, taking pictures and sweating profusely. Finally, we began the descent.

Upon reaching the bottom, we paused to sit in the shade and get some of our energy back. I still felt hyped on all the experiences, so I wanted to walk around to explore a bit more. I decided to go closer to Po Lin Monastery, since it was so gorgeous from a distance.

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

I am really glad that I took some time to step away for a moment and see the area. I didn’t go all the way up to the monastery, but I wandered around the surrounding courtyard for a while. Lush green trees hovered over the area, casting dappled shade on the cobblestones below. Pots of incense were scattered throughout, the smoke fragrant and calming.

 

Incense burning at Po Lin Monastery

Incense burning at Po Lin Monastery

Overall, it was a beautiful area. Minimal noisy tourists made for an overall sense of peace. When I reconnected with the group, we decided to check out Wisdom Path, which is a small pathway surrounded by giant trees cut in half longways, with Chinese scripture depicting the Heart Sutra; one of the world’s best-known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. These large trees display the Chinese version of the prayer, and are arranged in an infinite symbol. We wandered along for a while. The path to the Path lead through a shady jungle area. Giant butterflies flickered about. We passed by an old abandoned restaurant and listened to cicadas chirping constantly from somewhere unseen.
We walked for a while, always expecting to see our destination right around the corner. But corner after corner came and went, and we were still Wisdomless. Eventually we decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle, and we didn’t have the time to spare. We turned around, even though we were certainly more than half way there. We stopped at one of the gift shop areas for refreshmets. I got sugar cane juice and an ice cream, and we sat on the back porch, looking at a lush garden. A random cow walked past us and off into the distance. It was a lovely snack.

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2 thoughts on “Ngong Ping and Tian Tan Buddha

  1. Tian Tan is already on our list for a forthcoming trip, but the little detour to Po Lin Monastery sounds well worth doing! Thanks for sharing your trip!

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