This morning we took the MTR to Tung Chung so that we could take a ride on the NGong Ping 360 Cable Car to visit the Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha. The MTR was crowded with commuters but queues are orderly and trains run at one minute intervals.
The cable car station is adjacent to the MTR station but when we arrived at 9.50 am, ten minutes before the booking office opened, there was already a lengthy queue building up so it was almost an hour later when we boarded the cabin. We bought single tickets at HK$160 each as we intended to return via a different route. The journey to NGong Ping Village takes 25 minutes and dramatic views of Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport and the South China Sea can been seen. As the cable car reaches its highest point the famous Tian Tan Buddha more commonly referred to as ‘Big Buddha’ comes into sight majestically sitting at the top of Mount Muk Yue Peak. The Big Buddha faces north to look over the Chinese people.
After leaving the cable car we walked through the touristy ‘village’ from where we could see long flights of steps leading up to the Big Buddha. We climbed the 268 steps to admire the bronze Buddha which stands 34 metres tall. Inside the pedestal we looked around the museum of Buddhist relics before returning down the steps to visit the nearby Po Lin Monastery which is a world renowned Buddhist sanctuary. It’s an architectural delight, adorned with flowers and even has its own popular vegetarian restaurant where we stopped for cold drinks.
Near the cable car station lies the bus station and from here we caught Bus 21 to Tai O village, a 15 minute journey. We paid using our Octopus cards but please remember if you pay in cash to have small coins as no change is given.
Tai O is a small fishing village built on stilts centred around a creek. As we walked down the narrow streets the smell of pungent fish filled the air as almost every stall sells dried fish hanging from hooks or displayed on large trays.
Small boat trips are available and depart every few minutes. We took a 25 minute tour (HK$20 each) with only four other people on board. I highly recommend these boat trips as we were taken along the creek and could observe local village life with their wooden homes propped up on stilts over the water. The boat then left the confines of the harbour, gathered speed taking us out to sea for some dolphin watching. We were fortunate to be able to see some but you will have to take my word for it as they moved too quickly for me to photograph!
Leaving the boat we were feeling hungry so we bought some delicious coconut buns from the local bakery and sat on a bench in the village square to eat them. Some more exploring around the village followed before catching Bus No.1 to Miu Wo ferry terminal, this journey taking 40 minutes and passing through some splendid scenery on the edge of the Lantau Country Park. Arriving at Miu Wo we noticed a ferry already docked on the pier so we ran to the terminal to catch it but it wasn’t due to depart for a further 20 minutes so there was no need to rush.
We returned to Central on the fast ferry, paying using our Octopus cards. The seats were comfortable airline style so it was nice to sit back and relax awhile taking in the stunning views as we neared Hong Kong.
I have divided today’s post into two parts – our evening activity follows shortly!