Expo then Exploration

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Friday, April 15, 2011

11:02 I'm regaining my mornings again! Hurrah! I got up at 10 today and actually went to the kitchen and sat down to have my bowl of cereal and cup of tea. I was planning to go to Lantau Island. Kim came in (he's leaving today) and said he was going to the Asia Expo, which we ha been talking about for a couple of days and did I want to come. I thought why not. As it happens the Expo is at the airport on Lantau! So I can have a morning in the Expo then go and explore the island a bit more in the afternoon.

Frustratingly my sunglasses are broken, in that the little screw that holds the frame round the lens disconnected, I then felt it fall on my foot and disappear! So now I need to find a glasses shop and hope they can fix it for me. I suppose it might be worth getting another pair of sunglasses as a spare. It's good that I have my cap to give some protection.

A free bus left from the Excelsior to go to the expo, so it's also a free trip over to the island and I can amuse myself later.

Going to Lantau we crossed over 2 large suspension bridges connecting the islands. We also passed a really big cargo harbour with tens of cranes and hundreds of cargo canisters. The bay around was filled with ships waiting to come in. Some were huge ships stacked so high with hundreds of crates it shouldn't float, others were small and had 4 or 5 crates, which actually seemed a bit silly.

Again, the area round here is mostly green hills which is a refreshing contrast from HK Islands towering scruffy concrete.
13:52 I feel a bit of a fraud here, I've looked at several things now where the person got excited that I was a buyer and therefore would buy lots I imagine. There was so much stuff like iProducts (anything iPod and iPad related!) computers and peripherals, solar powered products, GPS, in car tech etc. It was great but then I felt like I had to blag my way around which I felt awkward about.
My favourite thing I saw was a rucksack with inbuilt solar panels that you plug into a battery pack inside. Had I not already got a decent day bag I'd probably have bought one!
14:09 Fortunately I've been able to get a free shuttle bus back over to Tung Chung so I can continue a day of sightseeing on Lantau.
14:47 The cable car from Tung Chung up to the Buddha was great way to get a great view. It runs parallel with the airport as well. The great flat bit of land that sports 2 runways and an enormous hanger looks completely wrong tacked onto this incredibly hilly, green bit of land formed naturally. However the flight path looks far safer!!
I could also see fishermen and cockle pickers (I imagine, why else would they be poking around in the mud?)
The ride took about 25mins in all.
15:08 I appear to have arrived at an amusement park rather than a spiritual area. There are some kids leaping about on trampolines to dance music. Not hugely appropriate.

I arrived at the monastery down the road from the play area at the top of the cable car.

Walking up a stony pathway there were 12 gods on either side which are the Chinese zodiac gods. I found mine- the year of the horse and then a big stone gateway with lion in front which looked very grand.

Shortly beyond that is Po Lin Temple. As I've arrived after 3 I believe they are in prayer. They're not in the grand hall- which is beautiful with paintings of dragons and buddhist gods, but their chants and singing is coming in loud over the speakers. I could sit in this peaceful garden and listen for hours, but I really need to go and see the Buddha on the hill.

On a side note, as I sit here in the calm of the singing and garden, I'm amused to see a lad walk in looking like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons. I have never seen a red headed Afro before.
16:10 On arriving at the buddha, up quite a few stone steps, i was able to go inside the it. There are memory plaques around the walls of people who have died, then up further inside the Buddha are artworks made up of carvings and paintings. It was 23 to get in but a free drink and ice cream awaited me at the end!

It really is a big Buddha, not as big as the one at Leshan, but still big, with lovely hilltop views all round.

There's a picture at home of my Little Granny visiting this place. She was my dads mum, who came to Hong Kong when I was born. When I knew that (coz I phoned home asking if there was anything else to see perhaps that wasn't in a guide book) I felt a lovely sort of connection to the tiny old lady who I loved very much, but who sadly was taking away much too early in my life (before I was even 10 I think). It probably sounds a little odd, it was over 30 years ago. I guess being in such a spiritual place just made it feel a bit more special somehow.
17:17 I had a look around some of the shops and souvenir stalls as I ambled back to the cable car. They all have the usual tat and the odd nice thing too, but nothing I want to part money with.
17:52 I didn't just want to go back on the underground, so got on a bus to Mui Wo Ferry Terminal for 2 reasons- see more of the island from a different point of view and also take the ferry back.

The hills are thick with trees, I could be in a rain forest looking at this lot, or Vietnam. Maybe this is where we can define Hong Kong city and Hong Kong as a country. (this confused the dim girl from passport renewals when I phoned up one day, she kept insisting that I had to name a city and country whilst I kept telling her it was a city AND a country. I think we got there after what amounted to a Vicky Pollard style 'yeah, but no, but, hong kong is a country innit so you as to give me a city else I can't give you no passport see?' )
Anyway I've seen Hong Kong is as different as being in London or the Lake District, and I like both parts, but actually more so the countryside elements. I'm probably a country girl at heart. Or at least someone that likes building to have no more than 10 stories.
18:14 Whaoh!!! There's 2 water buffalo walking down the road and one standing bang in the middle facing us playing chicken with a large coach!! Things here can really surprise me at times! It's quite nice pottering along with William orbit in my ears and dense forests outside.

Space is at a premium on HK Island, but it's actually incredible just how much unused space there is here. Sure it's overgrown hills, but it is space. Not that I think cutting trees down to put buildings up is a good idea at all. In fact I hate it with a passion and seen it happen far too often in Manchester alone nevermind anywhere else.
18:25 Arriving at Mui Wo, or Silvermine Bay as it was called, there a bazillion bikes parked next to the ferry port. I'd like to see people find theirs when they get back! I wanted to go up to the beach but the ferry only goes every hour and arrived shortly after we did, so I went to get on it. The bus over was 10 and the ferry is 28, it's not much really to have an experience based return rather than free coach, anyway it was free to get here this morning so doesn't matter.

19:02 Coming into HK by boat at night is one of th prettiest things I've seen

19:20 The old maps show a big park next to the old courthouse in front of the HSBC, having a different angled look at it there just looks to be a car park there now.

19:41 This walking pace i have named 'museum speed' is really starting to annoy me, especially as there never seems to be a gap big enough to get through so you end up careering into people and having to apologise for knocking them, when they should apologise for the mind numbingly slow pace and holding you up!

Best: Sitting in the temple listening to the monks chant/sing

Worst: Will these people PLEASE walk faster

Beautiful: The Po Lin monastery
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Glenwaters on

That camera fix certainly worked - back to the brilliant photographs again.
Keep it up - the rest of us can only watch and envy!

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