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Didn’t have any plans for the day.  Was going to try to find a bus tour of Hong Kong and Kowloon, but failed at that because the travel office was closed and online research was ineffectual.  I ended up wandering around Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood for a bit, ostensibly trying to find a place to buy some post cards.  Eventually I remembered seeing something about a cable car (with pictures of a gondola car) on the MTR map, so I decided to go check it out.

I’m very glad that I did.  The cable car is a 5.7km cable car (gondola) ride from Tung Chung town center to Ngong Ping on Lantau Island.  It’s organized by Ngong Ping 360 and a pretty reasonable price.  I paid a little extra to get a car with a clear bottom so I could see just how far I had to fall… I mean, so I could take in the wonderful scenery from every direction.

The gondola ride took about 15-20 minutes to get up to Ngong Ping.  Up in the village is a visitor center, some cultural information, and a short walk to the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha statue.

In the village, I got to see a demonstration of blooming flower tea, which starts off as a small nodule of plant, then in hot water expands to a beautiful flower and makes a tasty tea.  I also got to see a short film about the Prince Siddhartha‘s journey to enlightenment to become the Buddha.  It was a very informative (for the brief time it had) film, except for one teensy little complaint.  The film ended with loads of advertising using “all is one” philosophy, it exited out through the gift shop, after walking through a bamboo forest with placards on the walls describing the 4 noble truths, and the gift shop was directly across the street from a Starbucks.  It was the most WTF moment I’ve had yet.

I got to walk up to the Po Lin Monastery, which included a long walkway bordered by statues of 12 great generals, each one representing one symbol of the Chinese Zodiac.  Up the hill (and MANY, MANY stairs) was the Tian Tan Buddha statue.  Now, I had heard there was a “big Buddha” up on the hill, but this was bigger than I had expected.  Standing (sitting?) 112 feet tall, up 16 flights of stairs, it was quite a humbling sight.  It was surrounded at its base by six smaller statues, each posed making an offering to the Buddha.  And the view from up there, once the clouds cleared a bit, was simply breathtaking.  If ever you, dear reader, find yourself in Hong Kong, I would consider this to be a must see.

I would have liked to have spent more time in Ngong Ping.  I’d have liked to have seen the Jeet Kune Do demonstration, but unfortunately I got there at around 2:3o and the final gondola was at 6:30.  When I was leaving at round 6:00, many of the shops were closing up for the day and I didn’t want to miss my gondola and have to walk back!


  1. The flowering tea was super pretty. Why were the cups prefilled with water? Heating?

    • Correct. The cups were filled with hot water to warm them up, then emptied and filled with tea.

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