Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tian Tan Buddha

I played tourist today (
pictures), and took the Ngong Ping Cable Car up to see the Tian Tan Buddha. The cable car ride is 5.7km, and takes about 20 min. It connects Tung Chung to Ngong Ping Village, and the views on the ride are amazing. Most striking was clearing the last ridge and seeing the Tian Tan Buddha sitting on top of a hill in the distance.

Upon arriving in Ngong Ping Village I didn't particularly know what to expect, but was slightly disappointed upon realizing that it was a tourist village. This means a bunch of shops (including a Starbucks) in a row that was made to look "authentic" through some clever scene building.

A short stroll away is the Po Lin Monastery, which is at the base of the hill leading up to the seated buddha. The statue is the largest seated buddha in the world, and requires you to climb 260+ steps to reach its base.

While definitely worth the effort to go see, this has been the most touristy sight I have been to in Hong Kong. I am amazed at the throngs of people pushing up the stairs to the statue, and am slightly humored by the "take 1 photo for every 5 steps" mentality. On a more serious note, in the monastery everyone was taking pictures, which I found slightly odd as there were also quite a few people there worshiping.

I am now nearing the end of my second month here. While I can't claim to have seen everything, I do get the sense that I've hit most of the big sights now. If anyone has any recommendations, do let me know. Also, I'm going to Beijing in two weeks, and would enjoy any insights...

A few observations:
- whoever decided to market umbrellas as sun block to Asians - great move. I, however, hate you - they are always on my eye level and not a day goes by where I don't get hit in the face by one.

- posing for pictures; ok, I get it makes them more interesting, but how many peace signs do you want to see when you get home?

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