From pier 5 I get a taxi & head over to the south of Hong Kong Island and to Stanley. The dual carriageway goes straight under the central mountains before curving around the coast through the well heeled districts of Discovery Bay. This is where the big shiney cars are. The expats, the rich & famous, the businessmen & the bankers live here. At the end of the road is Stanley.
Stanley feels like an oriental Bournemouth with a wide esplanade to wander along, a harbour to gaze at, lights to set the mood & a Pizza Hut to dine at.
This very English feeling place still has some contrasting images.
Leaving Tai O I get back on the bus & drop down across the island. On the other side I get off & wander down a track to an empty beach with a marvellous Art Deco life savers’ station. Its golden sands are absolutely empty. I share the shade with a handful of lazing dogs. I have a choice of three restaurants. I choose the Thai & opt for the curried prawns. Wonderful.
Back to the bus stop & on my return journey to Kennedy Town on Hong Kong Island. This leg I go by the plodding ferry to Pier 5 & then take a taxi home.
This whole day just emphasises the many different sides of this fascinating place – deserted beaches alongside towering forested peaks, spiritual calmness beside historic fishing villages beside modern building projects, highrisers & bridges. Cable cars, fishing vessels, ultra modern transport systems mixed in with carts, buggies & human backs. I love it
Oh yes. Happy new year everyone. I hope it’s a good one for all of you.
Big Buddha is guarded by the monks who live in Po Lin Monastery just yards from the bottom of the steps that lead up to the big man himself. The monastery attracts families & priests to its grounds & temple high up in the hills of Landau Island. Offerings & incense are made throughout this peaceful enclave where people wander & find peace with the spirituality around them.
Up close the temple is glorious. Mosaics & richly coloured tiles cascade over & down roof lines, hiding exquisitely sculptured birds & animals amongst their lines & outlines.
You can buy a ticket to eat with the monks if you wish.
Yes, this is as much part of Hong Kong as is Kennedy Town or Central or Kowloon. Hard to believe that such spiritual calmness can be found next door to all that crowdiness activity & that peaks & mountains & forests & islands are as much part of the place as are the highrisers.
Today it is bus to the MTR & a rapid journey under the sea to Landau Island. We could have travelled by ferry or over the long bridge that spans the harbour to the island which lies to the south west of Hong Kong Island. At Tung Chung it’s off the tube & onto the cable car up & over the mountain to Ngong Ping where Big Buddha awaits.
At the cable car terminal a Disney Buddha Park of tacky Buddha gifts, T shirts, hats & Starbucks & fast food outlets channels visitors to the bottom of the 250 or so steps that lead up to the great man.
As I climb & leave the material tackiness below, I can feel my spirit rise with every step I take until I am exposed to the heavens as it flies to another plane.
Others worship by placing coins on the figures, chanting together as they process around the base platform at his feet, kneel in private meditation, bring bouquets to leave as offerings or light joss sticks to surround him with wonderful aromas.
Then it’s down the steps & over to the monastery next door. Next time.