Hong Kong, Day 1, Part 1: Of crystal cabins, photo walks and the Big Buddha (Ngong Ping 360 and Tian Tan Buddha)
January 17, 2012 8 Comments
Kite and I woke up eight in the morning since we had a packed day. I, after all, had just a weekend in HK so I had to make sure I do all the tourist-y things I can within the limited time frame. So not me, but hey, unplanned trip nga di ba?
We proceeded directly to Cafe on the Park where I feasted on four plates of breakfast goodies. Yes, you read that right. Four plates. One person. Me. Are you even surprised?
We then did our morning rituals and were off to our first destination of the day: Ngong Ping 360. From Royal Pacific, we walked a short distance towards West Rail’s Austin station, got on-board the train, dropped off at Nam Cheong station, transferred to the Tung Chung line where finally we got off at the last station (Tung Chung). The entire trip took more or less thirty minutes. (Hay world-class transportation, why are you so elusive in the Philippines?)
From there we had a quick walk to reach Ngong Ping Cable Car station. There’s an escalator to reach the ticketing counters, but this staircase here was just more fun:
It was a Saturday then so I guess it was understandable that there was a long line. I think we waited for almost twenty minutes before we were able to pay for our tickets. There were a lot of options to choose from, ranging from round trip rides in their standard cabin to whole-day guided tours. Just for the heck of it, we bought Crystal Cabin round trip tickets for 188.00 HKD (~1,065.60 PHP, ~24.20 USD).
It was another twenty minute wait before we got to finally ride the cable car.
Looking at the views in the Crystal Cabin was tons of fun. It wasn’t quite vertigo-inducing as I thought it would be (I’m more acrophobic than Kite) but it was a unique experience indeed. Was it worth the 63.00 HKD price difference compared to the regular gondola lift? For me it was.
The ticket, by the way, comes with a trip map of points of interest along the route so you can time your photos:
And yeah, I took some videos, too. Watch out for the Lantau grasslands’ hiking trail below the cable car that was clearly visible from the glass-bottomed floor, a sight you would obviously miss (or would’ve been a totally different experience) if you took the regular cabin.
Our 5.7 kilometer- and almost thirty minute-long trip ended with us landing on the upper station at the Ngong Ping Plateau, adjacent to the entrance of the Ngong Ping Village.
The weather was chilly that day and the sky was overcast (read: not good for amateur DSLR owners like me.). There were a lot of people, yes, but ironically the place had this calm, serene and peaceful vibe about it.We thought it was just fitting since most of the people go there for one thing, the world’s largest, seated, outdoor, bronze Big Buddha statue: Tian Tan Buddha.
Walking from the cable car station to the Big Buddha took around forty-five minutes, including looking at shops here and there, and of course, the mandatory “I’m a tourist, I need to take a picture of myself every step of the way.“-photos. Dear readers, I hope you’re ready for your daily dose of narcissism. You have been warned.
Haha! What did I tell you?
The climb up took 268 steps (I didn’t count. I read the number here.) and it afforded us two breath-taking views: that of the greenery that is Lantau, and the Big Buddha up-close and personal. The feeling of standing there and marveling at each one was surreal. I’m not the most religious person in the world, but being in sites similar to this one really has that certain soothingly mystical appeal to it.
We spent a good thirty minutes just roaming around the free public area on top. There’re some sort of halls-slash-museums inside the base where the Buddha was seated but we didn’t get in.
Oh, there were six bronze statues around the Buddha that were in kneeling poses, too. I read that they were the six devas with their respective offerings each symbolizing nirvana prerequisites.
Our tummies were already rumbling by that time as it was already a few minutes past one in the afternoon. With that, we had to forego some of the other things that we could’ve explored in the area, such as the Po Lin Monastery. That, and we had to rush to our next destination.
We walked back the same route and arrived at the cable car station. This time around there was nary a line, so we were immediately able to board the next available Crystal Cabin. A chill and relaxed thirty minutes later, we were back in Tung Chung.
Earlier that day, we had already spotted a place for lunch: Food Republic at Citygate Outlets adjacent to the Tung Chung station. I was told that it was the same food court franchise that Kite knew of from a trip to SG. It was a huuuuge space, and offered a range of food items from a variety of culinary origins. We eventually settled on Taiwan cuisine (having not seen any stall that says Hong Kong cuisine. Hehe.) where I think I got the noodle version of what Kite had: assorted cuts of meat that tasted of a mix of asado and adobo. We also got fresh squeeze orange and kiwi juices in the central beverage island, and mango and kiwi over shaved iced at a dessert place beside it. Hearty and fortifying, we were satiated.
We finished lunched half past two and we were quick to move so we don’t waste any minute. Next stop, the happiest place on Earth. Well, at least the one that is in Hong Kong.