I have so enjoyed my time here in Hong Kong. Getting to explore a new city basically for free, staying in a nice centrally located hotel, and making the most of all of my time here has really been fun.
BUT, I gotta say, three weeks travelling all by myself? Kinda over it. I definitely believe in solo travel. It’s great and teaches you a lot about yourself and your own personal experiences but constantly having to eat alone, explore alone, and ask random strangers to take my picture is getting old. Plus, every time I ask a stranger to take my picture, they NEVER take 300 different pics from all the different angles so I can choose the most insta worthy one. #ugh.
ANYWAYS – my point is – I’m excited to go home to Singy but still have some exploring left to share with you! On Sunday (a long time ago), I travelled to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. I had heard so much about it and it looked so cool (!!) so off I went to have my last free weekend day to myself.
Part of what makes Hong Kong such a cool city is the plethora of outdoor activities available to it. It’s a bustling metro but you can hop on a quick ferry or train ride and access gorgeous mountain hikes or head out to the surrounding islands for beaches, surfing, and other water sports.
Lantau Island is one such surrounding island. Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong and houses, among other sites, both Disneyland resort and Tian Tan Buddha (or Big Buddha).
You can easily access the island by MTR (HK’s subway system), and then from the MTR, take a cab, bus, or cable car up to the Buddha.
I opted for the cable car – the crystal bottomed cable car, to be exact – because I fully embrace the tourist name.
To preface, I had a fantastic time at Big Buddha but I went about my day all wrong. I let myself sleep in because I haven’t been sleeping well in HK and went to the gym because I’ve eaten too many dumplings then leisurely took my time leaving the hotel and heading to Lantau Island. Any seasoned tourist would know that you MUST get to these big sites early in the day to avoid the lines…but I threw caution to the wind and did it my way.
I arrived off the MTR and walked up to the line which stretched for LITERALLY hours. Alone, with no book or entertainment, I took my place at the back of the line and waited. It took me about an hour to get to the point where you can buy a ticket for the cable car and when I paid they said, “Ok now wait for an hour before you can get on the cable car.” -__- It was 4:30pm and they threw in, “make sure you’re back by 6:30pm because that’s when it closes.” Oy – the cable car itself, I knew, took 30 minutes to get up the mountain so that left only an hour to explore before getting back in the queue to come down. This would have been a fantastic time for a travel buddy since I’m sure the two hour wait would have passed rather quickly if I had someone (ANYONE!) to chat with in line.
The cable car was really cool. You are shuttled in with other guests to make a group of 8-10 and off you go, rising above HK city, passing over the harbour, and then climbing the mountain.
The glass bottomed aspect actually made it much more alarming than I thought it would be! Constantly reminded of how far you had to fall should anything go wrong.
To be honest, I had been under the impression that the cable car flew above the Buddha, so opting for the glass bottom would allow you to see the Buddha under you as you passed over it. This wasn’t true. While I liked the glass bottom – it was definitely a cool feature – I would recommend going for the regular cable car. You won’t wait nearly as long as I had to wait, it’s cheaper, and the glass bottom does nothing but remind you how steep of a drop it is into the ocean. SAVE YOUR MONIES.
The cable car drops you off in Nyong Pang village – a tiny little touristy village at the base of Big Buddha. There are some souvenir shops and tiny restaurants and cafes with people milling about. I didn’t waste much time here as I was on such a stopclock for my return! One thing of note, there were cattle roaming the streets which was odd and hilarious.
Next – the main event – Big Buddha! Big Buddha sits at the top of a 268 count staircase that you embark on with all the rest of the huffing and puffing international crowd vying to get up close to big boodz.
Tian Tan Buddha was completed in 1993 and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.
Due to my bad timing, I arrived at Big Buddha around 5pm, when the afternoon sun was at its highest and brightest. It didn’t make for much fun as I really couldn’t look directly at the Buddha without going partially blind.
A lot of people had climbed the treacherous stairs not just to see the Buddha but to pray! It was really cool to see them chanting in unison and kneeling amidst all of the tourists.
I managed to get in some cool pics, and had a few strangers take some poor insta-worthy shots (thanks for trying) before escaping into the darker, very small temple inside the Buddha.
Making my way home was surprisingly simple. I guess the consensus was “take the glass bottom going there and regular car coming back” as the line had switched groups! “Well THAT backfired, didn’t it??” I thought, as I strolled up to my very short line and boarded my glass bottomed chariot back home.
Bye for now!