Pilgrimage to the Big Buddha

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 20, 2012

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Where I stayed
Langham Place Hotel Hong Kong

Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We got up for breakfast this morning because we thought the prices seemed pretty reasonable (for the big city anyway).  It was already 10am when I awoke, so I didn't have time to shower before breakfast.  I threw on a hat and we made it before the closed down the breakfast buffet at 10:30.  It was 120 HKD each, but it was a good breakfast.  They had the guy who would cook your eggs anyway you like them, but they also had a chocolate fountain and a couple other unique items that made it much less run of the mill.

After breakfast, we went back upstairs and I showered and got ready while Mickell and Major went and looked around the mall (which is attached to the hotel).  By the time we were all ready to start our sightseeing for the day, it was lunchtime and we opted to find a quick lunch over in the food court of the mall. We found a sit-down place.  I ordered the most wonderful spicy chicken dish and some sweet & Sour Chicken for Major.  Mickell had some Spicy & Sour Soup with Noodles.  We all really enjoyed that meal because this came very close to the chinesefood that we're used to back in the US.    We were seated right in the center of the restaurant and it was a weekday at lunch time.  I looked around and we were, as usual, the only white, westerners around.  There was a man that walked by outside the street who stopped and just stared at us and seemed to be so interested in how we were eating.  I'm sure he expected us to be using forks as utensils, but we're pros with chop sticks so I'm sure he was disappointed in that respect.  Nonetheless, he got a good show of how westerners like to eat asian food.  Yes.  I like to put all of my dish on top of the rice and mix it up.  Yes.  If they had it, I would pour soy sauce on top.  And yes, I am drinking a soda with ice instead of hot tea because it's like 90 degrees outside!

After lunch, we made way for the subway.  We largely repeated the route to Disneyland from yesterday, but the trains didn't seem as busy today. Of course, we had different timing and it was later in the afternoon than yesterday.   We passed the Disneyland stop and went on to the last stop on the line which leaves you at the entrance to the cable cars. The cable cars take you high into the mountain peaks to the village where the Big Buddha statue sits.   This Big Buddha is a lot bigger thanthe one in Thailand.  It's truly massive.  We could see that before our cable car ever left the station.  We spent a little extra money and opted for the "special" cable car.   We've ridden several cable cars on this trip (Beijing and Xi'an), but all of them had a metal floor.  Here they have some cable cars with glass floors!  It seemed like a thrilling proposition, so we did it.  The cable car took off and it really did give a completely different perspective.  I found myself not wanting to stand on the glass, but we eventually adjusted and trusted the technology.  Mickell got some good pictures.  My favorite part on the ride up was watching the oyster harvesters who were skimming in the mud that had been exposed in the bay as the tide had ebbed out.  As we passed over head, you could see them stirring up the mud, but you could also see the fish swimming in the bay.  It was really neat.   It was a very long cable car ride.  We passed through several platform stations, but kept right on going.  We finally ascended into the clouds and then pulled into the station shortly thereafter.  

It was 4:45pm when we arrived and a sign said that the last cabe car leaves at 6:00pm.  We moved quickly through the little village until we got to the base of the hill that the Big Buddha sits atop.  There were some Bramha cattle freely roaming and keeping the grass well trimmed. We snapped some photos and then met at the base of the staircase to the top.  I was a little worried about the time and potentially missing thecable car and missing a conference call I had for work that started at 9pm.  It was 5:15 when we started up the stairs and I guess we finally  made it up by 5:30.  Out of breath, we paid our respects to the Buddha and took some photos from top.  Incidentally, this might be a good time to mention that bowing to the Buddha and leaving offerings is not "worshipping another god" which the Ten Commandments of Christianity
specifically forbid.  Rather, when you bow to the Buddha, you're simply acknowledging and paying respect to his teachings.  Buddha is not a god,he was a man who lived roughly 2500 years ago.   He was revered because he had found the path to enlightenment and began to instruct others on how to follow that path.  As I've learned more and more about Buddhism, I've learned that there are amazing similarities between Jesus and the New Testament and the teachings of the Buddha.  Believe it or not, one can be Buddhist and Christian!   

After we took our photos, we hurried back down the steps and booked it back to the cable car station.  There were some really cool shops along the way, but we just didn't have the time.  We made it to the station and had to wait for roughly 20 minutes in line to get a cable car.  The views on the way down were every bit as spectacular.  You get a wonderful view of the Hong Kong  Airport as you make your way down. When we got to the metro station, we bought our return tickets and madeway for the promenade and the Star Ferry terminal which is where they say it's best  to watch the laser show from.  Every night in Hong Kong, the skyline illuminates to a coordinated laser show.  At the promenade on the Kowloon side you have a perfect spot to listen to the music and watch the show.  As the lasers cascade across the sky, each of the buildings plays its part in the 15 minute show.  We arrived right on time and made our way to the promenade.  Mickell found a great spot right on the water and we waited for the show to begin.  Right after the show concludes, I need to make way for the hotel quickly so I can make
my 9pm call.  The show was very nice and we're in awe of the beauty of the Hong Kong skyline. It's said that it is the most beautiful skyline in the world.  I can't disagree.  New York is a close second, but the lights with the mountainous setting are really spectacular.

I left Mickell and Major to keep exploring while I made way to the hotel. I opted to take a taxi just to make sure I got there on time.  I made it with 20 minutes to spare, but my laptop would not start when I hit the power button.  I tried every trick I knew.  Luckily I had my iPhone which has my calendar and all my conference call logistics.  Right aboutthe time the call started, my machine turned on and booted up.  Very weird.   Mickell and Major came in around 10:30pm.  I took a quick break to go get some food.  I was hoping that the restaurant we ate at today for lunch was still open, but it was closed, so I had no choice except McDonald's.  Yuk!  Still, the fries were good at least and the hamburger wasn't terrible. I was just hoping for a better chinese meal on our last night.  Once I returned, Major was asleep and Mickell went out to get himself a snack as well.  Mickell eventually came back with some of those wonderful Lime Sherbet drinks and it really hit the spot.  I worked for the rest of the night and finished with a conference call
from 4:30am to 5am.   Tomorrow we check out, so I need to get quickly to bed so I can get a decent amount of sleep for our transit back to Shanghai.

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