Lantau Island was originally home to a number of fishing villages. In recent years it’s changed, and it is now the home of the current Hong Kong airport and Disneyland, though I most certainly wasn’t there to make the acquaintance of Mickey & friends. No, I was there for Po Lin monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha figure. The easiest way to get there is by cable car, but just as the “Peak Tram” wasn’t a tram, this “cable car” wasn’t a cable car, but an aerial tramway. What is it with Hong Kong and misnaming transport types?

Nong Ping Cablecar

Anyway, after an almost 6 km journey I arrived in Ngong Ping “tourist village” with its souvenir shops, Starbucks, Subway and 7-eleven. One has to pass through this to reach the Tian Tan Buddha figure, which was the world’s tallest such figure prior to 2007. Made of bronze, it’s 34 metres tall and weighs 250 tonnes. It looked enigmatic in the drizzle.

Tian Tan Buddha figure

One can climb up a steep flight of stairs to reach it. (Pity, really, the cable car didn’t reach to the top.)

Stairs to Tian Tan Buddha figure

There were a monk and four acolytes making their way up the steps, chanting and prostrating themselves every two steps. You can see them in brown on the right in the photo. It was slow progress. By the time I’d been to the top and looked around, they were still only about a third of the way up.

Past the Buddha figure is Po Lin monastery. Nothing really of note for the tourist here. Just lots of burning incense and a large, modern gateway.

Gateway to Po Lin Monastery


In the evening we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon. To be honest, the Hong Kong skyline doesn’t look that much different from the water than from Victoria Peak. However, when the sun set, the neon signs came to life.


At 8 p.m. there’s what the Hong Kong tourist board calls “coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights [that] perform in an unforgettable all-round spectacle synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong”. To be fair, some of that is true. It’s just the “unforgettable” and “spectacle” that are a little wide of the mark. I’m not really sure what is spectacular about office blocks turning their lights on and off. The first two minutes were interesting enough, and it made me wonder how it was achieved technically, but the “performance” long outstayed its novelty value.

[HK&M 4]

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