Lantau, Victoria Peak and 10,000 Buddha's, yes there is that many !!

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September 12th 2012
Published: September 12th 2012
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Day 4 (Sun 9thSep)

Pretty much a write off due to getting in at half 5 Saturday night, went out after a pretty busy day with 4 other manxies from home, who either live here or were over for one reason or another. One by one they went home, but I didn’t. Ended up in a bar watching the tennis being the only person cheering for Andy Murray’s opponent as I really don’t like him. Anyways, the night was a good one and I managed to make it back to my hostel and my bed, somehow. Waking up around lunch time to then realise I’d lost my key card was confusing since I got into my room and my locker ok at 5:30am so I searched around but as yet no key card, hence the walk of shame to reception still drunk and asking for a new one. Got this sorted and returned to bed to get up around half 6 in the evening. I went out again but this time only to watch the Italian F1. Lewis wins it fairly easy and I’m back home to sleep once again. Tomorrow will be a better day!!

Day 5 (Mon 10th Sep)

This has been the most active day so far, very early rise waking up at half 6, obviously not on purpose but I decided not to go back to sleep for fear of waking up at lunch time, so I decided on the days plan. After sitting on the computer for an hour I chose to head to Lantau island (30 mins by MTR to Tung Chung station) to take a ride on the Ngong Ping 360, which is a 5.7km cable car ride, lasting around half an hour and going over the sea and forest land up the Ngong Ping Village, which is a custom made village for the attraction of Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. The cable car ride itself is an experience in its own right, climbing to some amazing heights, with stunning views of all around. I got a standard cabin, there is also a crystal one which has a see through floor but as you can see all around anyway, the extra cost for that seemed pointless plus I didn’t fancy it. I’ve not been able to stand on a see through floor up Blackpool tower so that might have been too much for me. So, I got to the top, vacated the cabin and headed towards the Big Buddha, and the name doesn’t do it justice, it’s absolutely huge, a very impressive sculpture indeed. From memory it was built in 1992 as a tourist attraction and to get more people to the Po Lin Monastery, which by the amount of people up there is definitely working.

The Buddha has around 280 steps to the top of it, I did try to count but was that tired I lost count, tried again on way down and same thing happened. I also bought a ticket to go inside but without being able to speak Chinese there isn’t a lot to gain from this, although I did get free ice cream and water on the way out so probably made it cost nothing anyways.

I wandered over to the Monastery which is slightly under-whelming, probably the reason Big Buddha is now there. I think it was slightly ruined by the fact most of it had scaffolding around it and wasn’t open to the public, plus I got lost in the gardens trying to find the best hidden toilets ever. One thing I’ve noticed here is there are signs everywhere for toilets but half the time they contradict themselves and other times they’re half a mile away, which happened later on in Tai O fishing village.

So after the impressive Big Buddha and less so Po Lin Monastery I wandered over to the Wisdom Path which is a short but hot walk away, bout 10 minutes or so. On the way I spotted various huge butterflies, easily twice the size of one’s back home, as well as some random critters and a blue lizard although he got away before I could snap him. The wisdom path itself is quite cool, a series of 38 large wooden uprights with carvings sculptured into them, in a figure of 8 patterns, which is a Chinese sign of wealth and fortune, not that it’s brought me any yet. There is still time.

There are also all sorts of paths and treks to be done on Lantau but as much as I’d quite like to wander around, I don’t think I physically could in this humidity, today’s real feel weather being 42 degrees according to, very hot indeed. From Buddha, I headed over to the bus station. As part of a Sky-Land-Sea ticket which cost me HK$180, so 15 quid you got the cable car, ngong ping village viewing Buddha and Po Lin, free all island bus service and a ticket for a 30 min fishing boat excursion, value for money I’d say.

The bus took 15-20 mins down steep roads, past cows just sat on the pavement half way down, which when you’re not expecting it, shock you a little, to a quaint little village called Tai O. Within a minute of walking through the streets, I had been ushered by some locals onto their boat and had my voucher taken off me. Sat in a small boat with 10 seats with other tourists we headed inland firstly to see all the stilt houses and locals going about their daily business. It was an insight into how different things are here, everyone has a little boat at the bottom of some steps, attached to a shanty town house on stilts, not that I saw any of them complaining. We then went out into the South China Sea, just flying about. We were shown some rock formations which I didn’t understand, they were title the General rocks which pretty much summed it up, and didn’t look like anything special. Took a short wander through the village, where there were plentiful shops and fresh fish for sale, as well as a few shops that just seemed to serve deep fried and flattened objects although I have no idea what they were. We headed back to Tai O, got the bus back upto Ngong Ping and took the cable car back down again, definitely feels less safe going down as opposed to up.

After a brief hour in the hostel decided to take my first trip up toe Victoria Peak, which considering I’ve been here 4 days I should have done by now. Took the Tram up, which is a really old school tram, going at insanely stupid angles up the side of Victoria Peak, at times the gradient pushing 27 degrees, which doesn’t seem as much written down as it is in person, the views as you get towards the top are amazing.

At the Peak, you can get a lift up 3 flights of stairs to the Viewing Area, for which the view is as brilliant as anyone will ever tell you, the whole of Hong Kong is visible, from Lantau on one side, to Kowloon and Tsim Sha Tsui on the other side as well as Hong Kong Island beneath you. I timed it perfectly and arrived around 45 minutes before sunset, so I got to see the skyline in the day and in its splendour of evening which is also an amazing sight. I hung around for half hour or so after sunset and then decided I was knackered and needed a lie down, headed back out to the hostel after taking the peak tram back down. This decision was made after sitting down waiting for sunset and falling asleep. Did a bit of the old nodding dogs and realised I was falling asleep so got up and walked around to stay awake. A return is HK$40 which is between £3 and £3.50, which is pretty reasonable I’d say. It seems most transport here is relatively cheap, especially compared to say any large European city. Spending the rest of tonight figuring out how to spend tomorrow. Best day done so far though. Could get used to this travelling lark!!

Day 6 (Tue 11th Sept)

Thought I would take today slightly easier than yesterday so planned a trip out to the 10,000 Buddha’s Monastery, a ride along a Ding Ding, which is the local ancient trams, not anything suspicious as it sounds, a trip to Happy Valley and the night market, before a couple beers later on. Firstly the Monastery, quite a way away on the MTR after another trip to Tsim Sha Tsui on the Star Ferry, which I’d do every day if I could, quality way to travel. Got of the MTR at Sha Tin station, followed the instructions from Trip Advisor and this got me to the entrance in a couple minutes. Met by a ‘fake’ monk trying to sell a bracelet, ignored him as I knew it was coming. Now I was met with steps and lots of them, far more than Big Buddha. All the way up however are golden Buddha statues, which are pretty cool if not surreal. Some also do look like they’re enjoying watching people struggle up to the top. For 32 degrees it’s incredibly hard work, but worth it once you get to the top. The Monastery itself has the largest Buddha’s present and an impressive Pagoda, which I took a sneak look inside, I assumed it was ok as no one was telling me otherwise. Found an even higher section of this place, which nobody else was at. There was another Pagoda yet a smaller one with a few nice ponds in front off and a huge sculpture. One of the ponds had terrapins fighting which was amusing. On my way back down was approached by a French girl, who’d been hiding in a small room as she’d been jumped by the local monkey it seems. Together we worked our way down the path and spotted him, big angry looking fella, luckily now going the other way so we were ok to make it back to the main monastery bit. I had seen a sign warning of monkey attacks but didn’t believe until I saw him and he looked like he could definitely attack. Headed back down and off into town again.

Had a quick look along the Avenue of Stars, recognised like 3 names being the obvious, Jet Li, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, and decided a rest was in order, mainly to dry out. Headed for Star Ferry back to the main island.

I then found the nearest Ding Ding stop heading for Happy Valley and got on. These are ancient trams that don’t really go that quick but have to be done apparently. I think it would have been quicker on foot but the draft of sitting by an upstairs window swung it, the fact it costs 20p as well helped. Happy Valley hosts the Hong Kong horse racing circuit, football club, cricket club and bowls all one after the other, all impressive stadiums and with too many people working for me to sneakily enter for a gander. Wandered back to hostel to lie down, another tiring day done. Woke up around half 8 to meet Skiff and a bloke called Sean who has worked with my mum, which was strange, to go for a few beverages in Wan Chai, it most certainly was an entertaining night.

Day 7 (Wed 12th Sep)

After 2 pretty tiring days I decided a slightly easier and air conditioned day was in order so the Hong Kong History Museum was selected. Spent a couple hours roaming around and watching videos about how Hong Kong was formed to the British entering/leaving and the Japanese invasion during the way, all very interesting stuff, and with it being Wednesday is free to enter, not that the HK$10 normal fee, about 80p, is exactly much. Free is better though.

After leaving here I figured I’d wander the streets as I hadn’t done much of this on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, ended up finding Kowloon Park which is lovely. It has loads of fountains, ponds, flamingo’s, swans, even an aviary as well as various gardens. Found this purely by accident but it is nice to have a spot like that amongst so much concrete, very relaxing. After leaving the Park I went Harbour side and into the shopping mall, got lost and ended up back at the park entrance. Headed back to the Star Ferry which has become my favourite mode of transport here, absolutely love it and back to the hostel for an afternoon off. Probably heading out again later once it cools down but for now this post is done.

Coming up

Heading to Guilin and Yangshuo in China tomorrow. China blocks many a website so not sure whether updates will be regular or not. Email is Hopefully this isn’t blocked otherwise it’ll be 23 days before anyone hears from me again !!

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13th September 2012

Jealousy !
Alreet Dan , good luck in china , trip looks great so far , jealous as owt always wanted to get to HK but ship I was on never went there . Bah ! Looks like you're finding the same as me when I travelled no matter where you are in the world you always seem to find somebody from your hometown. Keep up the blog mate it's good stuff.

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