Visiting Big Buddha
Part of the reason I wanted to visit Hong Kong was because I really wanted to visit Big Buddha. The biggest sitting Buddha statue of the world. I never had seen a big religious Buddhist sight like this before and I love to learn about the religions of the world. I had no hard time choosing Hong Kong as a stopover location. Next to the fact Hong Kong is extremely beautiful, of course.
I was in Hong Kong for three days and before arriving in the city I knew that one day would be dedicated to visiting big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. It was the second day of my visit that I decided to make the trip to the massive statue and the religious sights surrounding it.
I started my day early. I took the MTR up to Tung Chung Station. I ordered a Starbucks to wake up and get ready for the day and saw other tourists passing by on their way to the ticket station. After finishing my Starbucks I walked up to the gates after which I had to order my tickets for the Ngong Ping 360 – the cable car that brings you to Ngong Ping village and the Big Buddha.
Little did I know how many tourists planned their visit to Big Buddha at that exact same moment. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say I had to wait in line for about an hour and a half before finally stepping inside one of the cable cars. The cable car ride would take about 25 minutes gliding over 5,7 kilometers worth of cables. Fantastic. I have no hard time getting claustrophobic in small spaces like this.
But with an insane view under and besides me I couldn’t do anything else then glue myself to the windows of the cable car for the entire ride. While seeing the skyscrapers of Hong Kong getting smaller and smaller I saw forest and hills surrounding me in stead and all of the sudden.. a dot that appeared to look a lot like Big Buddha. I was right. The closer we got to Ngong Ping I saw the dot getting bigger and bigger. It definitely was Big Buddha. My goal for the day.
Stepping out of the cable car I saw the one thing I was heading towards very clear. A 34 meters high statue that weighs over 250 metric tons. Jup, Big Buddha definitely is big. They didn’t exaggerate.
Before walking the stairs towards Big Buddha I found myself surrounded by souvenir shops, Hello Kitty stores and restaurants. For a part it surprised me because I feel like ‘attractions’ like these draw the attention of the religious aspects of Ngong Ping and Big Buddha. I guess that is not what Buddhists had in mind for this place. A whole other part didn’t expect any less. If there is one thing I learned about my time spent in Hong Kong it is that where tourists and people are.. there are a whole lot of shops.
I strolled through the village, looked at the different statues and finally walked up to Big Buddha. I climbed the many stairs leading to Big Buddha while avoiding to crash into one of the many praying Buddhists. For I while I just sat at one of the benches close to the statue. Staring at the massive statue and admiring the Buddhists who were busy with a praying-ritual and walked around the statue, kneeling at every step. I find sights like these always very impressive. I am an atheist myself, but I like the ‘feeling’ of a religion and the beauty of it all. So I just sat, watched and paid my respects to the statue that was sitting there, in peace.
After a while I decided to descend the stairs of Big Buddha and wander to the temples. I noticed a whole bunch of incenses burning. I also saw a large amount of flags and gates decorated with writing on them. Then I saw the temple.
The Po Lin Monastery was the second Buddhist Temple I saw in my life. The first one I saw in Vietnam, close to Hue. As beautiful as that temple is, the Po Lin Monastery is a whole other story. The two temples that stand on the sight are beautifully decorated. Inside and out. The Temples had beautiful details and the outside walls were covered with beautiful colors. When I walked inside I almost got blinded by all the gold that covered every single square of the interior. From the statues, to the roof and the walls – gold everywhere.
It is quiet inside the temples. Even though there was a large amount of tourists that tried to push themselves through the doors. I did the same. Just to get a quick good glance of the golden statues. It was beautiful.
A beautiful place, a beautiful history.