Hello from Hong Kong! We (Rachel Bowden and Erica Green) are covering the first free day the group had—Sunday the 6th. While some of the group stayed near the hotel and visited some local tourist spots and shops, about 15 of us went to see the Big Buddha.
The walk to the subway was short, and the subway system itself was crowded but very efficient and quick. When we got to the last stop on the orange line, Tung Chung, we all ate some lunch at a food court that primarily served local cuisine. However, some of us chose to go with what we know—McDonalds. We then got into cable cars (about 5 people in each car) that took us to the top of the mountain that the Big Buddha is on—Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. When we got into the cars we got our pictures taken and by the time we got to the top they were already developed and up for purchase. The cable cars were “crystal”, meaning that you could look out the sides and also see through the bottom. We hovered high above water, boats, treetops, mountains, and a bunch of brave people (including children) who walked the entire way—a walk that would take at least three and a half hours. It was pretty cold since we were so high up, and it was also decently foggy (this actually just made everything look so much more epic).
After the 25-minute cable car ride, we walked to the entrance to the statue (268 stairs that led to the main statue). The Big Buddha (also called the Tian Tan Buddha) was stunning and dramatic and HUGE. It is made of bronze, is 34 meters tall, and 250 tons. Inside of the Buddha (we could walk through the bottom of it) there were paintings, places of worship, other statues, and even shops. We learned that it was completed in 1993 and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature and people and religion. If you paid 30 Hong Kong dollars (about 4 U.S. dollars), you could take a staircase up into the Buddha statue and see a holy relic (a piece of the original). On the same plot of land there was also a monastery with decorated temples and outside incent gardens. Dogs and cows roamed around, and the trees all around the island were amazing and looked similar to the trees under which Buddha himself apparently became enlightened.
After about an hour of visiting the Buddha statue, we all met at the Starbucks on the island and waited for each other while sharing pictures. We took the cable cars back down the mountain (no one in our group was brave enough to walk down the mountain, although Peter thought about it), and came back to the hotel and split up for dinner and later got together on the roof of the hotel to hang out. Tomorrow we have our first business visits and we can’t wait!!
-Rachel and Erica