08 April 2007

Big Buddha Day

Yesterday Mai and I travelled to a land far far away, to see the Big Buddha. How big is he? We weren't quite sure, he was covered in mist most of the day. You'll have to Google for an answer as to how big he actually is. It is the largest sitting Buddha in the world apparantly. The Buddha is located close to the Hong Kong Airport, and takes about 2 hours to get there due to large line ups and crazy mountain roads. There is an option to take a SkyRail cable car up the mountain to the Buddha, but we arrived late (would it have mattered?) and the line to go was 3 hours long. By the time 3 hours has passed it would have been almost dark. We elected to take the roller coaster, er um I mean bus up the mountain. I'm very happy to be alive. Normally HK bus drivers are insane, but just wait until you get them on a one lane slippery mountain road with construction and opposing buses the whole way. Yikes...

Once we arrived at Ngong Ping (village atop the mountain), we climed the few hundred steps up to the sitting big guy. Even though we really didn't get a good look at his entirety, it was impressive still. Being close to the airport, I wondered if there was a blinking red light on his head, but that might not appease the gods. I didn't see one anyway. We looked around the top, and soon Mai was frozen. We walked back down.

Being Hong Kong, the government has managed to turn Ngong Ping into Disneyland # 10 in Hong Kong. There's only one official Disney, but it seems everytime something profitable comes along, they have to turn it into a fake cheesy plastic world of 'new' old buildings. The Ngong Ping village is actually only about 2 years old. And it looks rediculous. It's nothing but a big shopping mall full of fake little Buddha statues you can waste tonnes of money on. Personally I'd rather have my photos.

At least there was something genuinely historic on top of the mountain (aside from the Buddha, which actually isn't that historic being only 25 years old approx.) Also on top of the cloudy mountain is the Po Lin Monastery. I have no idea how old it is, but it was the only thing that looked like it had heritalogical importance. (is that a word?)

Inside was a collection of small buildings and gardens with various monks running around. I was glad to see none of them were begging for money, like the fake monks in Mongkok do. As far as I know these monks were real and probably wished that no one was there poking and prodding there big Buddha. All in the name of money, woohoo tourism. I found all the large incense pots pretty self explanatory, but in case you needed some help, the "Beware of Hot Pot" signs were everywhere. I love culture...

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