Asia 2019, Big Buddha, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Day Two

I repeated my 5 hours of sleep routine and was up at 3 again. Good grief. I was envious of Sal sleeping away. I just couldn’t fall back asleep, so I read while he snored contently.

Once again we had a cheap 7-11 breakfast. We also added money to our travel card. The woman at 7-11 didn’t speak English, really, but we learned pretty quickly that most people understand charades/pantomime. We had decided that we would go see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island that day, which meant an early start and a lot of travel to get there/back. We had a full day in store. We got to the Subway and I went through without issue, but Sal had a problem with his travel card and had to find someone and do the charade thing again. I waited for him on the other side of the turnstile since I had already paid. I had a pretty big epiphany while I waited, and that was that I would never want to go to a new-to-me large city (in a foreign country) by myself. I found it really intimidating and stressful. I was slightly worried Sal wouldn’t find me because of the crowds, but of course he did. I have new respect for the solo travelers beyond just having to deal with the loneliness that must be a part of that sort of travel. Thank goodness for Sal.

Here’s a video to show how quiet and orderly the subways station is — note the lines where you are supposed to stay in your lane.

There are also signs on the escalator saying not to walk on them, but we saw people doing it quite a few times. Naughty! I tsked every time we saw it. I think this was when Sal started implying I was working for international law enforcement. It was a running joke throughout the trip.

We were on the subway early, which meant commuting crowds. Still got a seat, though – score! It was the most quiet, but crowded subway ride I’ve ever been on. Everyone was on their phone and using earphones and nobody was talking. We were the only Westerners.

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We got off at our stop and had to find the bus. We were surprised to see a long line already, and since the buses were only supposed to be every 30-40 minutes, I was worried. It was already so hot at  9:30 a.m. We get it, Hong Kong. You’re hot! But geesh – can you give us a break? Usually there is a neat cable car ride you can take up to the Buddha, but unfortunately they were working on it when we were there so that’s why the line was so long. Our only options were to take the bus or a taxi (expensive).

MVIMG_20190514_090158I got worried that we’d have to wait a long time. Luckily they were still doing the holiday schedule from the day before, which meant more frequent buses.  I think we waited about 25 minutes rather than the hour I was expecting after seeing the line. Huzzah! It was a 25-30 minute bus ride up to the top of the mountain and the Big Buddha. I’m going to let these next several photos/videos mostly speak for themselves re: the Big Buddha.

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268 stairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buddha offering a hi-5 for making it to the top. Maybe.

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Even overcast, the view at the top was pretty.
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Still no ‘cheese’?
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Outside circular area with other Buddhas. Inside were little stands selling good luck pieces and things blessed by monks. There was also some sort of plaques for people who must have passed away. It was in Chinese and we weren’t allowed to take pics so not positive what it was.
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This was the first time in my travels that I saw female monks.
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What goes up must come down. When you’re afraid of heights, this is seriously the worst part. I was so slow. Note the old guy ahead of me yet again! What a show off!

 

One good thing is there was no admittance fee for the Big Buddha. When you think about it, though, this is as it should be; they shouldn’t add insult to injury by making you pay in addition to all those steps. I mean, come on.

We were pretty hot at that point, but we wanted to do a walk nearby called the ‘Wisdom Path’ because that is where I wanted to hide another one of Sylvia’s Stones.

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Let’s blame this lazy woman’s version of the Karate Kid ‘Crane Move’ on the jet lag.
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The Wisdom Path.

So as you can see from the pic above, the Wisdom Path involved yet more stairs. I almost didn’t do it, but I put my big girl panties on, and sucked it up and did it.

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We found a place for her stone.

 

Sorry it’s so bright, but because of how overcast it was it was difficult to film. Turns out the Wisdom Path was not the story of Buddha, as I said in the video. Oops! We saw this when we descended the path that told the story:

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It was actually the Heart Sutra. I think Sylvia would have gotten a kick out of that.

We made our way back to the bus terminal, stopping off for a cold drink after all that walking/sweating/stair-climbing. We got our bus and made our way to the fishing village of Tai O. This was a popular spot that people went to that visited the Big Buddha. They are known for their dried fish there and boy was there a lot of it. Also, they had houses on stilts. It was interesting.

Low tide is not a pretty time there. The dock streets were very narrow, and you would totally walk by someone’s home. It felt a little intrusive, but people didn’t bat an eye, so I think it was just something different we weren’t used to.

It was eye opening and vaguely reminded me of some places we saw in Vietnam. We were trying to find a restaurant that I had read good things about on Trip Advisor. I’m not linking it because I think laws changed and they weren’t publicly admitting they’re still a restaurant. The international travel cop in me is giving myself the side eye. It was hard to find, but we finally did with some help from a woman who was cleaning the streets and understood our pantomiming with Google Maps and our charade moves. It was definitely nicer than the other buildings, and the owner (Julia) greeted us right away and told us we were her friends visiting, not customers. I guess that’s how she got around the restaurant thing. I also guess she charges her friends when they come over for a meal. Hahaha. Anyway, we walked up some tricky stairs to the roof of the place and there were four tables, two of which were already full. The most people you could have up there was probably 12, I think, based on table size and space.

Julia was great to chat with – very personable and spoke great English. Turns out she lives in Brighton, England, which is where my friend is from. It’s a small world because one of the other ladies that was eating on the roof spoke English and was from the Bronx. Spoiler Alert: there’s an even crazier ‘small world’ story coming up in Japan. Stay tuned!

We were a little late for lunch, so all that was available was cheese and toast. Didn’t expect that in Hong Kong, but considering she lives in England it made sense. The cold beer hit the spot. When it’s that hot I don’t really get that hungry anyway. Even though we didn’t think the food was anything special, the company more than made up for it. And the prices were reasonable. Julia wanted to take our pic before we left. Nice lady.

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It’s nice to know we have a ‘friend’ in Hong Kong 🙂

We were on an island and had to get back to Kowloon somehow, so we decided to do the ferry. For those paying attention, that meant we rode a subway, bus, and ferry that day. Sorta neat. To get to the ferry we had to wait for the bus. It was so hot and our drinking water was warm by that point. Waiting was horrible, and I thought I would pass out. Keep in mind I’ve never passed out in my whole life. But there’s a first time for everything, right? Well not that day. I didn’t pass out. I might get a smidge dramatic. Just a smidge.

It felt so good when the bus came and we got to sit in air conditioning. Hallelujah! Thank goodness Sal knew which stop to get off on, because it wasn’t the last stop like we were told. We got on the high speed ferry, which took us to Hong Kong Island. It was a relaxing ride. Then we went from there to the Star Ferry again, to get to Kowloon. I was sitting next to a little boy and the Mom again was trying to get him to wave and say ‘hi’ to me. No dice. He was cute with his little bowl cut, though.

We walked from the Star Ferry back to the hotel and once we got to the hotel we saw it was happy hour at one of the hotel bars so we went and sat at the bar. We chatted with the manager, who happened to be newly arrived from America and had never been to Asia before. To go from that to living in Hong Kong of all places? With that weather? And those crowds? It blew my mind. I had so many questions! It was a good, interesting chat.

Let’s not pretend like we don’t know how this day ended:

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