On my last day in Hong Kong before my flight I decided to spend the day exploring Ngong Ping. I trekked with my backpack on the MTR to Tung Chung station, stored my bag in the luggage storage and then hopped onto Ngong Ping 360 cablecar which takes you over stunning scenery to Ngong Ping Village.
I had, once again, booked my voucher in advance on Klook, and walked to the front of the Klook Line to exchange the voucher for the ticket. You can choose between getting a normal cable car or a “crystal” cablecar which has a glass bottom. I am a slight wimp when it comes to heights so I decided the normal one would be fine thanks!
The views on the cable car were stunning. The route takes you across Lantau island which has both beautiful sea views and breathtaking mountainous greenery. The journey between the two cablecar stations takes about 30 minutes.
As you approach the Ngong Ping terminal you also get your first sight of Tian Tan – the Giant Buddha emerging from the treetops. Ngong Ping village is where you lead out to once exiting the cablecar, it is full of little shops and restaurants for you to make the most of, as well as a handful of Virtual Reality attractions – which I wasn’t really bothered about going on.
I walked straight to the Big Buddha – and yep, he is pretty big! I wandered around at the bottom taking photos from various different angles, setting up my trusty Gorillapod tripod wherever I could to get a good shot.
At this point I had no intention of walking up the stairs to the top, as I was worried about how much time I had before my flight and about how wonderfully unfit I am! So I then headed over to Po Lin Monastery which is a few minutes walk from Tian Tan.
The Monastery is very pretty, temples in lots of bold and bright colours making it really cool to look at.
It contains various golden Buddha shrines at different points within it, but again you are forbidden from photographing these. Although I did manage to get a quick, secret photo of the entrance of one of the Buddha halls (don’t tell anyone).
After wandering around Po Lin I sat down at the bottom of the main temple area just to people watch and take in the view. A little old Thai lady came up to me and asked if I would take a photo of her in front of the temple, as she was alone also, to which obviously I said yes. She was really sweet and asked me where I was from and told me she was from Thailand. She then insisted on taking some photos of me on my phone in front of the Temple, and kept telling me to strike different poses!
At this point I realised I still had quite a while left until I had to get the cablecar back to go and catch my flight. So I wandered back to Tian Tan Buddha to take some more photos. I approached the stairs, and as I did I thought – screw it, I’ll just climb them. To be fair it wasn’t as awful as I was expecting, it was a hot day though so obviously I was a red, sweaty mess by the time I reached the top, but whenever I got a little out of breath I’d take a minute on one of the flat bits before carrying on – as did the vast majority of other people! The views from the top were lovely. You could see Po Lin and all of the luscious green mountains. They also had other smaller Buddhist statues at the top. When you’re up close to the Buddha you can notice all of the detail on the statue which is cool. You can see a reversed swastika on it, which for a Westerner is a bit confusing at first – erm, is this a Nazi Buddha? But that symbol – before Hitler destroyed the meaning – is actually a sacred symbol of spiritual principles and has been used in religion – specifically Hinduism and Buddhism – for thousadns of years. You actually see it quite a lot at Buddhist temples as it is considered to be the “auspicious footprints of Buddha”. Something I didn’t know before doing research for this trip!
Going back down the stairs was obviously a lot easier than it was coming up! At the bottom I saw that there were lots of buffalo lying about in the sun, for some strange reason. So, being me, I had to go and see them. I had a little stroke of a couple of them, gave them little scratches behind their ears and swatted some of the flies away from their faces.
I then headed back towards Ngong Ping village in search of some lunch, which ended up being a meatball sub from Subway, whoops (I did eat some Hong Kongese food I promise). Once that was demolished I made my way back onto the cablecar and towards Tung Chung, picked up my backpack from storage, and headed on a bus to the airport.
Japan here I come!