Visiting Hong Kong
I like to visit Hong Kong from time to time . There is nothing really much in the city for someone like me, except on Hollywood Road, where they have a string of art galleries that always contain interesting “antique” thangkas, statues, and tibetan artifacts. I find those interesting, although overly priced. And the other place which is one of my favorites in the world is the Lantau Island Buddha.
So my visit to Hong Kong this time around was to make a pilgrimage to Lantau Island Buddha, and along with me came JP, Beng Kooi, Su Ming, Pastor Loh Seng Piow, Bryan, Carmen, and we met up with some friends here, namely Run Run and Race. Also Sean flew in from Shanghai to join us. We have been meeting a variety of friends here, and we have had stimulating interesting conversations.
We’re staying in a comfortable hotel that is in a centralized area. From our window we have a direct view of harbor and surprisingly the water is tending towards turquoise. The weather has been quite nice – not much rain, warm, pleasant.
We visited various eateries ,and they are amazingly fast in their service and quick in their customer assistance. I am pleasantly surprised that the restaurants and eateries are very very good in the service industry.
The taxi drivers in Hong Kong are no nonsense, direct, quick and really really efficient. They know where they are going, no fuss, no hassle and whatever is on the meter without any sign of haggling you just pay. And in such a large metropolitan city like Hong Kong, it’s amazing how easy the taxis are to obtain and to go from point A to B.
When you come to Hong Kong, and you wander around and look around, it feels like any huge extremely modern metropolitan city. such as Tokyo, Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, etc. Hong Kong is alive, pulsating, throbbing, and very very happening. In many ways, it’s extremely advanced organized, clean, and has a very safe feeling. We even walked around the streets and lanes and it’s dense with people needless to say, but I really kept getting a deja vu that i was in New York City. But a much cleaner and safer version.
Salespeople in Hong Kong are generally friendly, easy, fast and efficient. It is different from the Hong Kong of 15 years ago when I first visited. And if you don’t speak Chinese, like myself, everywhere you go, English is quite predominant and you can get by without speaking any Chinese so it’s really an easy city to get around in.
Last night we went on a tour of the city by one of our friends, Run Run, and we basically drove up and down all over the city in Hong Kong island and Kowloon for over 4 hours. It was very nice and our tour culminated at The Address to be at in Hong Kong which is The Peak . The Peak is on top of a mountain in the middle of Hong Kong and it has the very privileged residences of the very wealthy and elite of Hong Kong. It was windy, airy and had spectacular skyline views of the whole city. There seems to be a very interesting restaurant up there, also called The Peak, which by the time we got up there it was closed but we hope to go back another day perhaps because it boasts of great views.
We were warned of a Grade 3 typhoon for today (July 1, 2013)… whatever that means because I don’t know how many grades of typhoon there are… and a part of our group went up to Lantau Island by taxi and they arrived within 40 minutes at the cable cars and from the cable car station it took them another 30 minutes to ascend to the actual place where the holy Buddha of Lantau Island resides. So on a normal day, with normal routes, it would take a person from the centre of HK to Lantau Island probably 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to the top which is quite pleasant because the drive up is scenic.
At the cable car station, there are large shopping malls, eateries, trains, buses, taxis… whatever you need. It is far and it is on a huge island but it’s far from not having civilization. From the cable car (which everyone should experience) you go up to the top of the mountain where the holy Buddha is. This Buddha is in this area and it is managed by the Chinese Mahayana monastery called Po Lin and they have extended to having Ngong Ping village at the top. Ngong Ping village has a lot of traditional shops selling statues, traditional masks, opera dolls, key chains and very interesting curios. It is a must to visit.
I was having some tailbone problems and pains so I decided to sleep in and not go and our people went. I went to sleep around 3.30 am and got up around 12 midday and my tailbone problem felt so much better so I decided to take a taxi and surprise everyone and go up there. We hired a car from the hotel and the normal 40 minutes drive turned into a 1 hour and 20 minute drive because there was a bus accident along the freeway and traffic was at a standstill. Luckily, our driver was very nice and accommodating.
When we arrived at the cable cars, the typhoon had started. Rain and wind but no thunder, and it comes on and off, on and off. Well, the cable cars were closed down understandably, so we had to take another taxi to go to the top which took another 30 minutes. And it was just raining really heavily, but was overall a pleasant and safe drive along the way, where you can see the turquoise ocean, green foliage and a dam.
We finally got to the top, and I was a little disorientated for awhile because they had built and expanded from what I last remembered. But pretty soon, Bryan and Carmen came running up and brought me over to the rest of our group. But I offered 3 large incense to the Buddha first.
Then we went to Ngong Ping village and looked in some of the very interesting curio shops there, of which some were closed due to the typhoon. To my surprise, there were quite a lot of tourists, although much more quieter than the last time I was here, and there were people scaling the stairs up and down to pay homage to the Buddha on top.
As we entered Ngong Ping Village, which is the eatery and shopping area, it started to rain, so we stopped by a little place to have some french fries and hot tea and wait for the rain to pass which it did quickly. Then we proceeded to the base of the where the Buddha and we slowly ascended the stairs, stopping many times for jokes, pictures and to be in awe of this great Buddha edifice.
We reached the top and did circumambulations and then I gave a short Dharma explanation as it was raining and it was getting a little late. And I also gave refuge vows for the people who had already taken refuge to energize their vows. And then we all did fervent prayers for gaining Bodhicitta and the realization of wisdom in this life. Supplications were made to the Buddha to bless us that in all our lives we may never be separated from the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha and qualified spiritual teachers. We also did prayers for our Kechara members, Kechara projects and Kechara Forest Retreat along with the movie we are intending to do. The security guards up there were very accommodating because they saw us doing our prayers and meditations although it was already time to close. As you can see in the video, it was windy and raining but very pleasant and cooling. And I, for lack of a better word, enjoyed it thoroughly.
The Buddha is spectacular and well made, and I was awestruck again and I definitely want to be back to make a pilgrimage. And below this, I am going to include some statistical information on the Buddha image for you and you can see our interesting video. After the prayers were done, we descended the stairs carefully, grabbed more photos and some fans of Race Wong called her over and wanted to take some pictures with her because she was a singer in Hong Kong and also did some acting. Run Run and our group were very helpful in assisting me down the stairs because it was slightly slippery. At the base, the taxi driver was waiting and whisked me to the cable car area. And there, the hotel taxi was eveready and took us back to the hotel without any incident and quite quickly this time around as there was no traffic. We got back, took a hot shower because we were caught in the rain, ordered some food and rested and put up this post. I am comfortable, cool, and without much pain from my tailbone as in a little while, I will be giving a light Dharma talk to a small group again in the hotel. Questions and answers will ensue and I am sure it will be interesting.
Tomorrow, I have a whole day lined up with meeting different people, executives, actors and socialites. And that’s been my trip in Hong Kong so far. Without a mention, JP was extremely efficient in finding our hotel, preparing the place, buying books that I like, stocking the pantry with snacks and food and drinks, flowers in the room, and even putting water in the toilet because I usually use a bidet but there is no bidet here so he provided water. I can’t really take soft mattresses so he even went to the extent of having the hotel put a plank to make my mattress more firm. And this was all topped off with JP’s friendly smile, helpful demeanor and a welcoming card. I was touched by JP’s preparations for my stay here, and all his attention to detail. And I’m very happy to have Bryan, Su Min, Beng Kooi, Pastor Loh Seng Piow and Carmen also assisting on this trip.
JP, Beng Kooi, Su Ming, Pastor Loh Seng Piow and I have been a team for a few years now and we’ve done quite well together. So this was a nice pilgrimage to join us together from our individual busy schedules and works in Kechara. And besides the blessed pilgrimage to the Lantau Island Buddha, I really was looking forward to and enjoyed my time with JP, Beng Kooi, Su Ming and Pastor Loh Seng Piow. Run Run was a great help on this trip… accommodating and really made himself available for all of us and I must thank him very much .
I do recommend everyone to please visit the holy Buddha of Lantau Island because it really really is the gateway to the Pearl of the Orient. Enjoy the video, and the great pictures that we have.
Lantau Island Big Buddha or Tian Tan Buddha
Cable car ride to the Big Buddha statue
These cable cars have a see-thru floor!
Seeing the Lantau Island Buddha for the first time
Picturesque Ngong Ping Village
The Big Buddha can be seen from the village
More details about Ngong Ping Village
Offering 3 large incense sticks to the Buddha
In a Chinese opera store. I have always liked Chinese opera
Very interesting curio shops in the village
Making my way up the steps to the Buddha. As you can see, the ground is very wet and slippery.
From left to right: Beng Kooi, Pastor Loh Seng Piow, myself, JP, Su Ming
With my team
Our team that went on pilgrimage to Lantau Island
Resting along the walk up
The 268 steps that we walked up!
Front view of the Lantau Island Buddha
Taking a breather at the very top of the mountain
Another view of the Big Buddha
I gave a little dharma explanation at the feet of the Buddha. Watch the video above to listen to the talk.
Making aspirational prayers individually…
…and as a group!
Myself with Sean from Shanghai
Myself with Race Wong
Myself and Run Run
Myself and JP
Myself and Pastor Loh Seng Piow
Myself and Bryan
Myself and BK
Myself and Su Ming
Myself and Carmen
With my liaisons
Another photo with my group from Malaysia
Tian Tan Buddha
Widely touted as one of the most significant Lantau tourist spots, Tian Tan Buddha takes visitors on a sacred land tour of enlightenment. It is the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue and sits calmly next to Po Lin Monastery.
The easiest way to reach the Buddha is through the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, which takes merely 25 minutes and allows visitors to breathe in the beautiful scenery along the journey. Visitors can also choose to walk along the Ngong Ping trail.
If you look up to the southwest from Tei Tan square in the middle of the Po Lin Monastery Plaza, you will see a flight of 268 steps leading to the world’s largest outdoor bronze seated Buddha – Tian Tan Buddha, which symbolises Sakyamuni, who meditated deeply under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment and awakening to true reality. Walking up the steps, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Lantau and the South China Sea from the podium. The huge statue body is a breathtaking sight, and the kind smile on his face instills a sense of peacefulness.
Tian Tan Buddha sits solemnly atop the 482m Muk Yue Shan. The whole complex stands opposite to the monastery and is 6,547 m2 in size.
Facing North, the 34-metre tall Tian Tan Buddha statue sits on a three-storey pedestal.
Remarkable feat of engineering
The planning of the Tian Tan Buddha started in 1976. Constructed by the China Aeronautic Department, the works were completed in 1993.
It was named one of the “Ten Engineering Wonders in Hong Kong” and was awarded the “Merit of Unique Artistic Features” by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers in 2000. Since its opening in 1993, it has consistently ranked as a top Lantau tourist spot.
Fine details of the statue
Featuring the pronounced facial expression of the Buddha and the statue craftsmanship of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the Tian Tan Buddha was built with bronze and weighs over 250 tonnes. Gold was used for the face, portraying the beauty and solemnity of the Buddha.
The right hand of the Buddha is held up as a “Fear-Not mudra” – a manifestation of the great vow to eliminate suffering from all sentient beings. The left hand is placed on the Buddha’s thigh with his palm facing out and fingers slightly pointing downwards. This is known as the “Wish-Granting mudra“, signifying the compassionate vow to grant happiness to all men.
The Dharma cakra in the palm represents the everlasting turning of the Wheel of Dharma and the dissemination of the Dharma to every corner of the world. Inside the pedestal of the Tian Tan Buddha there is a three-storey exhibition hall presenting a number of invaluable Buddhist items, including:
- Buddha’s relic
- Four paintings
- The Bell
- Hua Yan Dharma Preaching
- Statue of Ksitigarbha
- Six Devas outside the Giant Buddha
- Lotus petals
How to get there
Take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping – 25 minutes
Extracted from: http://www.np360.com.hk/
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