One of my favorite days of our trip was our last day in Hong Kong. After meeting up with our old coworker the previous night, we were feeling a little worse for the wear and wanted something low-key to do.
Tian Tan Buddha, or Big Buddha, rests in the mountains of Lantau Island, which can be reached through a strenuous hike or a leisurely cable car ride. Feeling a little tired from the night before, we chose the latter option. We took the metro to the very edge of Hong Kong Island, and departed from there.
Although our main goal was to see the Buddha, the cable car was worth the price of admission (about 20 USD round trip, in case you’re planning to visit). You’re afforded stunning views of Tung Chung Bay, Ngong Ping Plateau and the South China Sea. You can also watch all the poor suckers who chose to hike the 5.7 km to the top of the mountain.
As you reach the top, Big Buddha comes into view. To be honest, I didn’t care too much about the statue itself before going. For having chosen not to hike there, there were a suspiciously high number of stairs required to reach it. Aside from feeling lazy, I’ve seen enough Buddhas in my travels throughout Asia to wonder why this one was so special. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but Big Buddha really impressed me. Perhaps it was due to its immense size (112 ft tall and 250 metric tons), but I think it was just the whole scene that made it so wonderful: a lovely day on this gorgeous mountaintop, with the sun illuminating Buddha from all angles. It easily cracked my top-five favorite Buddhas. After visiting Buddha, we descended the stairs and continued our walk to the Wisdom Path. This pretty little nature walk wound through the woods to the base of Lantau Mountain. There, dozens of enormous wooden pillars rose out of the ground, bearing words in Chinese of “wisdom, enlightenment and some other stuff” (according to Alex). According to Wikipedia, they are verses from the Heart Sutra that are arranged in a figure 8 to symbolize infinity. It was another gorgeous site that Hong Kong seemed to be hiding. We made our way back to the cable car, stopping for some surprisingly delicious gelato along the way. On the ride back down, I set down my camera and simply enjoyed the views.