I have so many photos to share from our fab New Years holiday to Hong Kong, so I’ll start with the scenic stuff and work my way into the nitty gritty cityscapes!
The Big Buddha!
Unlike most Buddhist temples I’ve visited in Korea and Japan, the Big Buddha on Lantau Island felt more like an amusement park attraction rather than a place of worship. Seriously, we queued for at least two hours just to get onto the cable car that took us over to the island (where, upon arriving, we had to enter through a gift shop [and resist adorably unnecessary things like cuddly toy panda backpacks!!] and then meander through a street lined with tacky gift shops, a cinema, and a live action martial arts movie studio [and a Starbucks, of course.])
Did I mention that this was my first-ever cable car trip?! It was kind of sickening on the way over, but definitely way more enjoyable on the way back.
Glass-bottomed cable cars were also an option (for an additional charge, of course!) but I’m pretty sure I woulda tossed my cookies in one of those!!
A view of the aptly-named Big Buddha in the background!
After we made it through the tourist tack, things got SUPER exciting! There were so many big, scruffy dogs everywhere! I didn’t get TOO close, though; best to let sleeping dogs lie ‘n’ all that!
Mr. Wrinkles taking a shady snooze.
The colorful Po Lin Monastery near the entrance to the Big Buddha.
Huge sticks of smoky incense.
The climb up to the top wasn’t so bad, but it was super hard to take photos on account of all the crowds. It definitely wasn’t a great place for peaceful meditation (then again, we did visit over a holiday period, so I’m sure off-season visits would be much calmer.)
The towering Buddha is surrounded by six statues bearing offerings. Despite the crowds, it was an impressive sight, and felt much older than it actually is (it was only completed in 1993!)
And now for something completely different!
A mildly off-putting sign marking the entrance to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (a.k.a. Man Fat Sze.) We didn’t see any ‘false monks,’ though I kinda wish we had…
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery isn’t actually a functioning monastery (hence why the sight of any ‘monks’ roaming the premises should be treated dubiously!) The steps leading up to the monastery are lined by gold-painted Buddhist statues, though the actual ‘ten thousand Buddhas’ decorate the inner walls of the main temple.
It looked kinda impressive from a distance, but up close these dudes were pretty creepy…
…well, I won’t tell you what I thought this guy was holding, but if you share my immature sense of humor I’m sure you can guess.
I would NOT want to be strolling along here after dark. NOPENOPENOPE.
That’s some belly button ya got there, sir. Anyway, after a long walk of giggles and heebie jeebies, we finally made it to the top.
Of course, we couldn’t photograph the inside of the temple, but it was pretty impressive. Not only were the walls covered in golden Buddha statues, but the embalmed body of the monastery’s founder had been preserved in a glass case at the front of the temple. (To be honest, he really didn’t look much different from the statues outside…!)
The beautiful main plaza, covered in even more golden statues!
As we were wandering around admiring the statues and pagodas, I noticed a nearby tree branch moving in an odd fashion. Suddenly, a monkey leaped from the tree onto the top of the public restrooms! And she had a teeny tiny baby monkey clutching onto her!
SO, SO CUTE. Well, until an innocently unaware old lady sat down, took a plastic-wrapped baguette from her purse, and was unexpectedly assailed by the previously cute, but now screaming and hollering monkey. The monkey grabbed onto the baguette and started pulling with all the force she could muster, but the old lady fought back! Who fights wild monkeys?! Badass baguette-lovin’ old ladies, that’s who! As soon as the old lady reclaimed her snack, the terrified baby monkey scrambled off of its mom and bolted away, which obviously made the mama monkey completely freak out and go chasing after it (don’t worry, she got it back and soon resumed her post on top of the public toilets.) It was only after this ordeal that I noticed this sign posted on the bathroom wall:
We decided to explore the hills beyond the temple, passing some more creepy gold men on the way.
Remember those Stretch Armstrong toys all the boys at school used to have?!
Not many people seemed to be venturing up the path behind the temple, but I’d recommend it. It was quite peaceful and mossy. And there was a tiny terrapin pond!
There was also this dilapidated mess of a house, which looked like somebody had started to renovate it at some point, and then just completely given up. It was stuffed full of antiques, and there was rusty construction equipment all around it. Why was it there and what happened to it?! Somebody please enlighten me!
There were beautiful bits and pieces like this just laying all around it. Such a waste!
Loads more Hong Kong stuff coming soon!