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Big Buddha

Since it was so nice, I prolonged my cough by way of a visit to the “Big Buddha,” the 23m Tian Tan Buddha above the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. Since many of my currently-abroad colleagues went there when I went to Central, I figured I’d increase our overlap.

Lantau is a large island (Hong Kong’s largest, actually) south of Tuen Mun as seen in my pictures from Butterfly Beach yesterday. I took the “normal” way getting there—light rail to Ferry Pier, a HK$15 ferry to the Tung Chung New Town (spawn of the airport), and New Lantao Bus #23 to Ngong Ping (HK$16 today, HK$25 when they went on Sunday). The trade-off for the Sunday surcharge, applicable to all NLB routes, is vastly increased frequency of service, today’s lack of which and my tardiness postponed my visit to the Lantau fishing village of Tai O.

Back to what I did visit though: after lovely views of the South side of Lantau and the small islands and sea beyond and quite a few narrow mountain roads, I arrived in Ngong Ping. Aside: the roads were under heavy construction, often leaving only one lane open. Many times instead of a pair of STOP/SLOW flagmen these pieces were governed by temporary traffic lights which detect traffic at the other side. Way cool.

There isn’t much to say about the Buddha that isn’t said in pictures. The vegetarian meal at the monastery wasn’t too bad. The monastery grounds themselves were very peaceful and atmospheric, but I would have felt like a heel pulling out a camera and gawking at the monks doing their bell-ringing and chanting so no pictures for you.

The last bus for Tai O had left by the time I was done with my meal, and I didn’t feel desperate enough to hail a rare blue Lantau taxi (green up here in the New Territories, Red in HK and Kowloon), so I headed back to Tung Chung and looked around the development briefly. Across from the Tung Chung Crescent I hailed a bus E33, the closest thing to an airport bus serving Tuen Mun. This took forever and was probably not worth the HK$2 savings… traffic was gnarly at 5 p.m., who’d imagine that? I did get to see the Lantau Link bridge by day, though. Very slowly.

I got off at the Tuen Mun Town Plaza, which was bustling—I’d never made it there at the right hours before. A few “puff pork floss buns” and a quick LR ride to Siu Hong later, the adventures are over for the day.