The next day I got up early and took the MTR to meet Val at Tung Chung. I arrived a little early again and after waiting for a few minutes, I was in need of a restroom. The subway stations in Hong Kong made me a little crazy because there is no public restroom in the station. If you need to use the bathroom, and the station is next to a shopping center, you must go in there to look for the closest bathroom. I have a feeling this was done strategically to lure people into the shopping centers, and if you really got to go this is quite annoying.
We took a bus to the Po Lin Monastery to see the Big Buddha. After arriving, we ate lunch at a restaurant in the touristy village market. We had two different styles of bbq pork (one where the whole pig is roasted so that the skin is hard and crispy), goose and boiled chicken. Although I don't think I'll ever get completely used to eating meat with small bones in it, it was much easier to pick the bones out of these pieces of meat than the ribs that we
had had for dinner the previous night.
After lunch we walked through a disturbing amount of construction before climbing the 268 stairs up to the Big Buddha. Val hypothesizes that they are going to make the area more touristy. I think that's a complete shame. Even though I am not Buddhist, I don't think the monastery should be a commercial place. It also completely takes away from the magic of going to a place like that. It doesn't even feel real any more. It just feels like something that was placed there solely for tourism. And while some people enjoy that sort of thing, I find it very unappealing.
It wasn't nearly as difficult to climb up to the Buddha as it had looked from the bottom of the stairs. Then again, Val and I didn't exactly race up the stairs either. We stopped along the way to pose for action photos and to high five Buddha.
We entered the monastery and Val pointed out the well cared for peach blossoms. If I remember correctly, there is a day (I think lunar New Year) where if you are single, you should walk around the plant three times
to find love.
After we were finished walking around the monastery we got on another bus to go to Tai O. Tai O is one of the original fishing villages in Hong Kong. As soon as we entered the village we were greeted by fish drying in the sun, completely dried fish for sale and lots of other dried goods. To enter the main part of the village we had to cross a bridge by turning left then right onto the bridge and then turning right and then left again. This boxy C shape was created to keep evil spirits from coming into the village (spirits cannot turn corners). Val and I stopped at a small shop and ordered a tofu dessert. The tofu was cold and super, super soft. It had a completely different taste than the firm stuff I'm used to eating in Korea. There was a sweet orange/brown powder that you could put on top too. It had a very interesting taste to it and it didn't take long before I felt full. We had only ordered one small pot of it but even between the two of us, we couldn't finish it.
walked through the main part of the village we walked out along the water. We walked behind the stilt houses and passed circles of the purplish shrimp paste drying outside. The smell was certainly not pleasant, but it wasn't as awful as it could have been either. I had considered buying some before leaving the village but I couldn't think of a single person I knew who would have any idea what to do with it. We walked all the way out to the old Tai O police station and the old pier. It was so relaxing. It was so quiet and we were greatly amused by the large bird who was just floating over the pier. The wind was blowing really hard but the bird wasn't flapping its wings, it was just letting the wind blow and floating in the air.
We walked back through the village, turning down a different road this time. We stopped at the Kung Fu center and another temple that sat beside it. This temple was interesting to me because Val mentioned that this was the kind of temple that you would see in rural towns, the kind that aren't designed to lure
Actually, it was really good.
Soon we came back out of the town and back beside the water. We sat beside the water for a while talking and enjoying the quietness. I never thought I'd say it but I truly think I prefer living in the country. Not necessarily in the wilderness 39,303 miles from anyone else, but in a smaller place. One thing I hate about Daegu is that it is almost impossible to just get away from people and noise. You're constantly surrounded by concrete, car exhaust, and chatter.
Before we knew it, it was late afternoon so we headed back to Tung Chung. We spent sometime looking at the stores in the shopping center before Val had to leave for church. She suggested that I try shopping at Kwai Fong and showed me some good places to buy clothes there before we parted ways. Before I could start looking for clothes, I had to fix the rumbling in my stomach. There was a supermarket in the shopping center so I went there and bought some bbq-ed pork, yogurt, and strawberries for dinner. This was one of the only times where I felt unable to communicate. I tried to
ask for chopsticks and a spoon so that I could eat my food, but the lady did not understand me at all. After a little bit of miming though, I was able to secure myself some utensils. The only other time I can think of that I tried to ask someone a question and they didn't understand was when I went into the market near the bus station by Val's house. I was looking for a restroom and I asked one of the ladies who was cleaning the floor. She just looked at me, smiled this big friendly smile and then went back to cleaning the floor.
I found an outdoor courtyard, went outside and sat down on the steps to eat my meal. I surprised myself by finishing everything I had bought. With my hunger now satisfied, I went back into the mall and tried on at least a dozen pairs of pants. I didn't buy a single pair. Oh, well. By that point I was incredibly tired and didn't feel like shopping in that mall any more. I took another of Val's suggestions and went to Mong Kok to check out ladies market. I got off of
the subway and walked out of the exit onto one of the most crowded streets I've ever seen. It was nuts. It took me at least 5 minutes just to move about a half a block. By the time I made it to the street corner, I turned around and made my way back into the subway. Forget that, it's bed time.
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