Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lantau Island, Cable Cars and Big Buddha

We were blessed with another long holiday weekend, so Mike and I sent the boys to Ocean Park (think water/amusement park- small scale) and decided to go to Lantau Island. Lantau is one of Hong Kong's bigger outlying islands, home to both HK Disneyland and the airport. But the thing we've been wanting to see is the very kitschy "Big Buddha" statue, built specifically for tourists. They even added a 5.7 kilometre cable car ride to take you there in style. We were looking forward to it!
It's easy to get in a "I'm a tourist and I don't have to be careful with money" mindset when you first move overseas, at least it has been for me. I have to guard against this mentality...and I'm a bonafied tighwad!  Consequently, I have been trying to be more diligent when it comes to days off. On the one hand, I want to "live fully where I am," but I want to do that in a way that doesn't break the bank. Here's some ways we spent, yet saved:
First we detoured and went to Kowloon Park (a 10 minute walk from the Austin MTR station). If you want to spend an afternoon relaxing, this is a great place. There is a water garden, a sculpture garden, a huge pool, a museum, a playground and an aviary, just to name a few of the attractions. It has a very NYC Central Park feel to it with big buildings all around; we had a lovely time just relaxing:

After spending some time here, we took the MTR to Tung Chung station. Of course, we found an obligatory mall there, but this one does boast over 60 outlet stores. I was not tempted! We looked around a bit for some type of inexpensive eats, and decided to grab a turkey club sandwich at Taste, a grocery store. We added a big bag of chips and got some free glasses of water. Total: HK $71 (US $10) for both of us. Not the cheapest, but not bad either. The sandwich was quite large! Then we headed out to the cable cars. You can have a car to yourself for a price; you can also get a "crystal cabin," which has a glass bottom. I don't think it's worth the extra fee. Our view was spectacular without the glass. We opted for roundtrip tickets for two and didn't pay extra for "attractions." Total for both of us: HK $250 (US $33). I was pleasantly surprised as I had assumed it would be more for a 3.5 mile trip. It was so worth the money:
Notice the foot path in the first picture, it runs the entire way there. I cannot imagine walking over all those mountains! The second photo was when we were directly over the ocean. See the boat on the right?
You arrive in about 15 minutes at Ngong Ping Village, where the Buddha dominates the landscape. We're not just talking a Big Buddha, this statue is the world's largest Buddha, it is made of bronze and is 112 feet (34 meters) tall and weighs 250 tons:
We also went to the Po Ling Monastery, right near the statue; it is beautiful. Check out this 20 second video; you can hear the monks chanting:
There was a mini-festival going on and we saw these colorful dancers:
And then this was the view coming back into the harbor:

Here I am wearing my HK $68 (US $9) souvenir. I personally think that's it's better to buy things that I will actually use, rather than a trinket to catch dust:

You might think I'm contemplating Buddha; actually, I was just tired.


  1. Your Hong Kong blogs are fascinating, Trish. I am not finding the little videos you talk about though. Would love to see them too. Love you.

    (via email comments)

  2. I'm not sure why that is...I know some US readers are watching them. Anyone else having this issue?