Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hong Kong Part 3: The Big Buddha

The plan for Sunday 26th October, our second full day in Hong Kong, was to visit the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island, so after a hearty breakfast of pork congee and a boiled egg we set out for the subway station to take a train from Causeway Bay to Tung Chung and then a cable car to Ngong Ping, a tourist village in Lantau and gateway to the Big Buddha which was completed in 1993. Apparently at 110feet it’s the world’s tallest outdoor seated bonze Buddha and weighs a nifty 250metric tons.

We arrived at the cable car station just after 10am, paid for our tickets and joined the queue. I was relieved to see the cable cars to Lantau were bigger and sturdier looking than others I’ve endured in the past, so my nerves were much less jangled, but my stomach was still in knots at the thought of those skinny cables ferrying me over jagged rocks and open water.

We shared our cable car with two Italian men and three Chinese, 2 women and a man and I noted in disbelief the sign indicating the car’s capacity was seventeen. Seventeen!!! Ten seated and seven standing.

One of the Italians, the older one, kept standing up to take photos the cable car swaying slightly as he did so. I had to fight a strong urge to smack up the side of the head and tell him to sit down and be still but instead I gripped the bottom of the seat, clenched my teeth and prayed for it to be over.

Once safely at the end of the death ride it was a short walk through the strip of restaurants and souvenir shops of Ngong Pong to reach the Buddha. I had to smile at the attempt by this restaurant to cover multiple culinary possibilities.

There are 268 steps up to the Tian Tan Buddha, but that’s when living in a walk up in New York came to my advantage although there are only a mere 45steps up to my 4th floor apartment. Still I was happy to breeze to the top without too much effort despite long hours at the office having impinged on the frequency of my gym regimen before the trip.

At the base of the Buddha are smaller bronze statues representing the immortals.

The Tian Tan Buddha statue is an extension of the Po Lin monastery which was founded in 1906 by three monks visiting from Jiangsu.

After a stroll along the wisdom walk we'd had our fill of Ngong Ping and hopped on a bus for the 15minute trip to Tai O, a small fishing town on the western side of Lantau Island.

Afterwards we took a bus to Mui Wo on the east coast of the island where we searched fruitlessly for somewhere to eat that looked halfway decent and wasn’t packed to the rafters. We gave up and took the fast ferry to Central for $36.70 where we decided to go with a recommendation from one of my Hong Kong born friend, Christine, and have lunch at Yun Kee restaurant on Wellington St where goose is a speciality. Unfortunately they were all out by the time we arrived around 3.30pm, so instead we ordered the braised pork with rice and mixed meats with tofu.

The pork was delicious, the mixed meats I was less keen on. It included chicken, cuttlefish, mushrooms and a couple of mystery meats that had been flattened and cut into thin slices camouflaging their true identity. I took a smile bite of what I assumed was the abalone as Melissa gauged my reaction.

It didn’t taste of anything much. “It’s okay, it’s very bland” I told her. “Try a bit.”

As she took a small bite of the mystery meat her face froze.

“THIS is not THAT” said Melissa jabbing her chopsticks towards the leftover abalone on my plate.

She looked like she didn’t know whether to spit it into her napkin or bite the bullet and swallow it whole. She went with the latter.

“It had a very strong taste” she said

She didn’t look too well. “Do you want to stop by that bakery we passed on the way here and get something sweet to take the taste away?” I asked.

“Yes!!” she responded with absolute certainty. In fact I’ve only once ever heard her give a more definitive answer, which was to the question ‘do you think Daniel Craig’s attractive?’

My guess is she had a bite of pigeon, it was all over the menu along with goose as one of the specialities of the house.

Mystery Meats


Amel's Realm said...

OHHHHH THANKS for taking me with you on the tour. VERY impressive pics! I'd LOVE to eat CHINESE FOOOODDDDDDDDDDDDDDD he he he he he...

Happy New Year to you, Fish! ;-D

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Amel. Happy New Year to you. Wishing you good health and happiness for 2009

Spandrel Studios said...

Wow, what a trip of a lifetime, Fish! Looks like you were able to see a ton in a short amount of time... And that Buddha statue? Awe-inspiring!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Spandrel, it was a really great trip.