Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Big Buddha!

Went out for a walkabout after posting yesterday's blog. Passed the Noble Sauna (and the man quite persistently trying to sell me a made-to-measure jacket).
Strolled for a while and ended back up at the eatery opposite the hotel, where at least I rang the changes and ordered something I hadn't had before - abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber and tofu. The fish maw was a bit tough and chewy (so maybe give that a miss in future), but everything else was tasty.
After some Facebook catch-up, slept till about 5 a.m. when I was wide awake, so I chatted to Su on Facebook at the end of her Saturday night! After that, pulled back the curtains this morning to see sunshine! Lots of cloud as well, but I have felt warm today, and moved to put my sun hat on for the first time in 2012.
 And sun across the bay.
After a leisurely breakfast, decided that I could not stay in the hotel all day, so I caught the MTR (metro/tube) to Tung Chung on Lantau Island. Decided to test my dislike of heights by going on the cable car up into the mountains. Before that, the worst part of all was queueing with what seemed like the half of Hong Kong that hadn't gone to Disneyland or to the Peak. The trip up wasn't too bad apart from when we went over the pylons, which I manfully coped with by shutting my eyes!:-) This was the view looking back down the first part of our ascent.
The draw for everybody to get up the hill is the Giant Buddha - the largest outdoor seated Buddha in the world apparently. It weighs 250 metric tonnes... This was our first glimpse of it from the cable car. My companion was so impressed she was asleep! (Or was that a meditative state?)
Great that the Hong Kong organisers of the May 2012 Pogo event thought to have it here - where else could it be!:-)

Getting closer.

At the top of the 200+ steps - masses of people there (but useful for scale!).
There is a Buddhist museum/exhibition underneath the statue. There was a circular wooden display with script and paintings on the middle floor.  I was taken by the character in the bottom right of this photograph. It also has lots of buddhist scrolls and some of the purported "bone relic" crystal left behind when Buddha went nirvanic - donated by a monastery in Sri Lanka. This is white, unlike the "hair relic" (black crystals) or "flesh relic" (red crystals).
Outside the museum were sets of three acolytes to the big Buddha.
It was time to say goodbye.
All the way back down the long flight of steps…
Flags up to celebrate a Buddha's birthday with a monk and others praying.
The entrance to the Po Lin monastery
The are the biggest incense sticks I have ever seen! When I came back out of the monastery, the air was literally thick with smoke, so many people had lit various sizes and were waving them around.
Baby Incense, Momma Incense and Daddy Incense on sale, along with more conventional sizes.
As part of the entrance ticket to the museum underneath the Big Buddha, you get a meal ticket for a vegetarian meal. This is what they served up - tea, rice, soup, tofu and veg, garlic mushrooms and leaves, and some kind of vegetable roll.  Delicious, and just over £5 including the museum visit!
After all this excitement, it was time to come back to the hotel.  Decided to catch the bus down (I had chickened out of the glass-bottomed cable car option before) - less challenging and cheaper, if slower. At the terminus saw lots of posters put up by Falun Gong supporters, including these that would not go down well on the mainland.
Don't say this in Beijing!
Then it was back on to the MTR for the trip back to my hotel, and to catch this reflection of the building opposite the end of my corridor. Just had a cup of coffee and mostly written this upstairs in the lounge, while listening to two very emotional Latin men. They are brothers who have been separated for 40 years, and they have just reunited in the lounge of this hotel! Quite a lot of alcohol and tears, but very touching.
This day a year ago, we had our first full day on Symi and walked to Nimborio via this monastery. Despite the threatening rain clouds, I had said that we should be O.K. Cue the downpour while we were right in the middle of exposed countryside - don't take my advice on appropriate clothing!
So, that's my day of sightseeing allocation! Tomorrow I am back in harness to teach the students Part Two of "Professional, Ethical, and Policy Issues". 10 sessions in 5 days, with an exam in June. Doing the whole course in two separate weeks (rather than over two whole semesters, as the UWE students do it) is tough. Let's hope they all pay lots of attention to my final session on revision! I will try to seek out new and interesting sights and information while I am in lecturing mode…


  1. I am left wondering if I have it wrong. When in Thailand, I was told the Buddha they were working was to be the largest in the world. Is this tourism talk or maybe it does not qualify until finished?

    I was not a fan of the haggling and no fixed prices. It is a waste of time and always left me feeling ripped off.

    1. I don't know about Thailand - just going on what was published here in HK - haven't researched it deeply enough, obviously:-)! As for haggling, I know what you mean but HK seems much more Western in feel than many eastern cultures so no hassle if you don't want it (apart from people trying to make you jackets or suits...)