We took the subway to Lantau Island with the idea of taking the cable car up to the Tian Tan Buddha. But for some reason the cable car was not operating today. No big deal as there is a bus right there. I have to say the Octopus card makes getting around so easy. We saw lots of tourists digging in their purses for change, but we just “beeped on”.
Lantau is the largest island that makes up Hong Kong. It’s where the airport is, major shipping docks and up on the hill, a very large Buddha.
The Tian Tan Buddha was finished December 29 1993. Which happens to be the day of Buddha’s enlightenment. Coincidence? We think not. The 268 steps symbolize the harmonic relationship between man and nature, people and faith. At the top, 6 smaller statues (devas) offer flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit and music to Buddha. The devas symbolize the six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment. The Big Buddha is constructed of 202 pieces of bronze. Buddha’s right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction, while his left hand rests open in his lap in a gesture of generosity. The bell is supposed to ring every 7 minutes, 108 times per day symbolizing the release of 108 kinds of human vexations. We were there for a while and never heard it. This Buddha faces north, which is unique, they normally face south.
We did see the bell inside but no photos are allowed. There are a lot of relics and wood tablet scripts inside that are quite exotic. As well as some fairly stunning Chinese art. Sadly no photos. As an aside, I get that you can’t take photos of the Crown Jewels for security reasons, but we’ve seen a lot of churches, temples and other sites that disallow photography. I can understand flashes can hurt paintings but no photos at all? That’s disappointing.
There is an active monastery in town. The Po Lin Monastery was founded in 1906 by three monks visiting from the Chinese mainland. The main temple houses three bronze statues of the Buddha, representing his past, present and future lives. They offer a lunch which is vegetarian in keeping with Buddhism. We ate there and it was good. The pumpkin soup not so much, but the rest was yummy.
Lunch for two.
For some reason there are local town cows that hang out near the Buddha. We’ve not seen that anywhere else in China. And with some Indian tourists around we were taken back to our trip to India.
The monastery gates are traditional and beautiful but modern concrete.
The inner temple area.
We got to bathe Buddha which is where you make a prayer and drop flower-scented purified water over a Buddha statue. With lots of action here today he’s very very clean.
Today was only 32 Celsius so when 3pm rolled around we retraced our steps back to the hotel to shower and recharge. The MTR (subway) here is phenomenal. Like London in a lot of ways.
Dinner was at Times Square, this time more pizza and a good Italian wine. Tomorrow we head into Kowloon and make our way over to the Ladies Market. This is where you can bargain for the knock-off’s. Should be fun.