After the daily ritual of a quick trip to the Starbucks located around the corner for a quick breakfast, we headed out to the Ngong Pin 360 cable car and the Tian Tan Buddha. Taking the MTR almost all the way back to the airport to Tung Chung Station, and a short walk from the station, we were at the Ngong Ping 360 Cable car station, where we head to the big Buddha statue. Opting for the Crystal Cabin as we wanted the full experience to and from Ngong Ping Village, the crystal cabin is special because of it having a glass bottom, just to give you the added experience to your trip over to Ngong Ping village. I’m not the greatest with heights and the cabin does get some height when looking down, but it was stunning, you are too busy looking at the view all around the cabin to think about any fear of heights. Please note that the crystal cabins do cost that little bit more than the standard ones, so be prepared!
The trip lasts around 25 minutes, and you get a spectacular view of all the surroundings to and from the statue. Once on the other side, you are in Ngong Ping village, a fairly new village built to cater for the influx of tourists coming to visit the Tian Tan Buddha. It has all the typical amenities of a tourist spot but taking nothing away from it, the shops were amazing! Plenty of restaurants and gift shops to keep you occupied for a few hours at least, now, after all the shopping has been done, the walk to the Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.
On the path towards the Buddha and the monastery are the statues of the Twelve Heavenly Generals, the statues represent a sign of the zodiac and two hours of the day. They are protective deities of the Buddha of healing, Bhaisajyaguru. Along with the sacred cows that roam the area here, you are greeted to the steps which lead up to the Buddha, 268 to be precise. But before heading up, we visited the Po Lin Monastery, which is home to Buddhist scriptures and some amazing architecture. During our visit, I noticed a lot of locals coming to pay their respects and bring offerings, and some of the biggest incense sticks I have seen in my life! They stand at around 5ft tall and look like a rocket, I bet they cost a fortune! After people watching for a little while I realized that I enjoy how much religion still impacts peoples lives around the world, and hope tourists like us never get in the way of their practices.
Finally, the walk up the dreaded stairs was complete and you are rewarded with a stunning view from the top. In one direction looking back, you see the Po Lin Monastery and the surrounding land, and looking from the back, you get a fantastic view of some of the outlying islands and luscious forest surrounding the temple and Buddha, who knew Hong Kong could be so green? At the top there are more statues, offering gifts to the Buddha, and a small gift shop inside, which id assume the proceeds from purchases go to the upkeep of the monastery area.
After a long day back down from the Buddha we headed out to the Garden of stars. It took us a little while to find the area as we knew from our research that they have closed Avenue of stars due to the reconstruction and development of the waterfront bay area. The easiest way to visit would be to get the MTR to East Tsim Sha Tsui, take exit 1, and the garden would be above you. We ended up walking quite a way around, so I’m sure there is a quicker way to get to it.
The area is filled with the typical hand-prints from celebrities associated with the area of Hong Kong and most famously, the statue of Bruce Lee. Arguably the most famous person from Hong Kong, even though he was actually born in California, but let’s not get into that! There was a number of other statues of famous people and props to have your photos with, but a lot of them are more famous in eastern culture, rather than western.
On the way back to the hotel, we found ourselves near the harbour, just as the crowds were in place for the symphony of lights, and what a show it was! So check out the video below for the action!
Top tip for the Symphony of lights, get in early if you want a full, unobstructed view. The closest MTR station is East Tsim Sha Tsui on the West Rail line. You must take into consideration it begins at 8:00pm every night and finishes at 8:14pm every night unless any major weather warnings have been announced beforehand.
We decided on the Star Ferry back across to Hong Kong Island because it’s covered by the Octopus card and we were right next to the port. The only thing we didn’t account for was the number of people joining us for the ferry ride, it felt like the entire city wanted to get on that ferry with us! We felt like we had to fight for the seats on the ferry, so bear in mind the possible crowds when travelling on the Star Ferry.
Check out my other Hong Kong Blog Posts:
- The top #5 places to see in Hong Kong
- The #1 Best Way To See Hong Kong
- Diaries: Two Weeks in Asia : Day 2 – Hong Kong
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