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Get Up Close and Personal with the Giant Buddha at Ngong Ping

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On our third day in Hong Kong, we planned to visit Ngong Ping 360. Since we were already in Lantau island, getting there was as simple as walking towards the Citygate Outlets and exiting near the MTR station. If you come from anywhere else, take the MTR and get off at Tung Chung.

We went up an escalator and fell in line to buy our tickets to Ngong Ping. Just to note, the cable car is open 10am-6:30pm on regular days and 9am-6:30pm on special days. We had a choice whether to buy a full ticket which means it includes not only the entrance fee but also two additional attractions, A Monkey's Tale and the Walking with Buddha which had separate fees. Of course, we took the full ticket because we wanted to experience everything!

At the time of this writing, the whole package cost us HK$169 for each adult for a standard cabin. If you choose to get the crystal cabin (its bottom is made of glass), then it's HK$219 for the whole package. The breakdown for a standard cabin is: roundtrip cable car ride (HK$107), Walking with Buddha (HK$36) and A Monkey's Tale (HK$36). So you actually save HK$10 if you get the full package instead.

Another Cable Car Ride
The cable car ride to Ngong Ping is the longest in terms of duration and distance in Hong Kong. It will pass over Tung Chung Bay and the view from the ride is simply panoramic. The whole ride took about 20-25 minutes. You also get to see the silhouette of the Tian Tan Buddha.

The Giant Buddha
It was unfortunate that a few other people got in with us at the cabin although we wanted it for ourselves. I guess they couldn't wait to get to Ngong Ping. The reason we wanted it to ourselves was because your picture is taken as you near the terminal so you have to stand up and pose for the camera but having the other people with us killed the desire to do so.

When we finally arrived at Ngong Ping Village, we mostly just strolled around first and entered the shops that lined the area. The nearest building would probably be the Tea House but we didn't enter that yet, but just went straight along the street. There's a souvenir shop with lots of Chinese mementos and also a wishing shrine where you write your wish on a note and hang it there.

The Monkey's Tale and Walking with Buddha had designated times so we took note of them and planned to return later.

The first of these attractions which we tried was the Walking with Buddha. You are given a headset where you could clearly hear the narrator as she begins the story of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, and his path to enlightenment.

Once you reach the temple, you can pick a Bodhi leaf, which contains words of wisdom for you to ponder on. Watch carefully as you offer your leaf and see the different colors swirl.

The tour ends with a short walk on the "Path of Enlightenment" as you take to heart the teachings of Buddhism.

A Monkey's tale, on the other hand, is really a show for children. Unlike Walking with Buddha, you are only led to one room, made to look like a Bodhi tree and underneath this 'tree', there are logs to sit upon while you enjoy the animated film about three monkeys and their mischievous ways. Be on the lookout for several special effects as the story progresses.

Posing with the hero of A Monkey's Tale
We went back to the Tea House at around 2pm in the afternoon, just in time to catch the tea ceremony being performed. Gracefully, the tea master showed how tea was made and afterward, we were invited to sample her freshly mixed tea.

Tea House and Tea Ceremony
At first, we thought that was all there was to Ngong Ping. There was some construction going on at the far end of the area so we thought it wasn't part of the attractions but little did we know it led to the steps to the Tian Tan Buddha. We only found out after we saw groups of people coming from that location. So we followed them and were pleasantly surprised to see the Giant Buddha looming at the top. I thought it was farther away.

Diw didn't want to climb the 268 steps leading to the Buddha but Rona and I were eager to do so. Halfway up, I was already out of breath (sheepish grin). Perseverance still got us to the top and I was thankful for the respite. It was cool at the top, sort of like Baguio. There were smaller bronze statues surrounding the Buddha in various poses, offering their gifts.

The Offering of the 6 Devas
We stayed for a while and finally decided to go down. Along the way, who should we find but Diw, who changed her mind and decided to climb too. But she was still on her way up while we were already heading down so when we reached the bottom, Rona and I waited for her while catching our breath again.

Visiting the Po Lin Monastery
When all of us were together once more, we proceeded towards the monastery I had seen earlier before we even climbed the Buddha. This was the Po Lin Monastery which housed three golden Buddha statues representing his past, present and future. I also admired the dragon carvings just outside the temple. This was the first time I had seen such an elaborate Buddhist temple.

Buddhas of Po Lin Monastery
According to our map, there was supposed to be a Wisdom Path but we couldn't find it. We followed the signs pointing to the direction of the path and we had already gone a long way with a handful of other tourists but we didn't find it and I wasn't even sure if we were still going the right way because the signs seemed to have disappeared. Also, it rained, so we just decided to go back. It was nearly 5pm by that time and we still needed to go to Kowloon to meet our IT counterpart (aka our boss).

So we rode the cable car back to Tung Chung terminal and then got on the MTR to Kowloon. We were to meet Danny at the mall at the base of the ICC Tower, where the HK office was.

The ICC Tower is the tallest building in Hong Kong and still under construction during our visit. When we finally met Danny, he invited us to the office to meet more of our HK colleagues. It was funny because Jim, one of our counterparts, said that we had probably seen more of Hong Kong in just three days than he ever did in the years he stayed there. If I remember correctly, the office was located at the 40th floor and Danny even showed us the view of the city from the ICC. Danny also treated us to dinner that night and it was really a night to remember as he kept teasing me and Rona because we couldn't use the chopsticks well while eating a bowl of noodles. He finally took pity on us and asked for forks.

When it was time to go home, we discovered Danny also lived near Tata's flat, so he went with us and also rode the same MTR train to Tung Chung. We were laughing the whole time because we were hinting that Rona had a crush on one of the MS guys and Danny was trying to guess who. Of course, Rona was embarassed and tried to shut us up but Danny eventually got it right and swore he wouldn't tell a soul. We doubted that though. Lol.

Then we were at our destination, but Danny even walked with us right to our building, since he lived so close. All in all, it was a great and eventful day.


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