A Day Away With A Big Buddha

DSC04965bigbuddha.JPG

This blog entry about the events of Saturday, September 11, 2004 was originally posted on September 18, 2004.

DAY 329:  “Are you in on the Buddha?” Aviva asked me.  Out of context that may sound like a request to try some wild hallucinogenics, but she was referring to a plan she and Moe had to spend their Sunday away from Central Hong Kong to see the sights of nearby Lantau Island.  Any chance Moe could get away from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong to see more of this part of the world, he was all for it.

“Sure,” I said.  Moe’s co-worker Meg and upstairs neighbor was in on the Buddha too.

SUNDAYS IN HONG KONG are the one-day weekend for most professions, a day to get away from the crowded (but surprisingly organized) madness of Central Hong Kong.  On our way to the ferry terminal, we walked passed the Filipina maids — there are about 150,000 in Hong Kong — who flock by the hundreds to the covered walkways of the central district every week on their day off for a big long picnic to hang out and eat, play cards or mahjong, and gossip with family and friends.

The Fast Ferry was running a buy-one-get-one-free deal for the day and we boarded the transport to Lantau at half price without having to wait at all.  The ferry took us westbound away from Hong Kong Island and it reminded Moe and me of the fighters in Enter the Dragon leaving Hong Kong to go to Han’s private island.


LANTAU ISLAND, THE LARGEST ISLAND in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), is a popular getaway for Hong Kongers, an island twice the size of Hong Kong Island with more than half of it classified as a “country park” — and just less than a half hour away.  It holds peaceful hiking trails, fishing villages, waterfalls, and more noteworthy, the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha, our sightseeing goals for the day.  However, the complete serene vibe of Lantau wouldn’t last long; Hong Kong Disneyland would open on the northeast section of the island in 2006.

After arriving at the Lantau ferry port near Silvermine Bay, we used a suggestion in Aviva’s Lonely Planet Hong Kong & Macau guidebook to hike to the Silvermine Waterfall, about forty minutes away through a small village.  It wasn’t such a frequented place and it took us a while to find the way since there weren’t exactly signs pointing the direction.

“We should have rented bikes,” Moe said.  “That would’ve been cool.”

“Yeah, we could get lost a lot faster that way,” Meg said.

We asked directions from an old security guard and an old Irish guy with a hairdo like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future, who led us with his dogs through the greenfields hugging the bay.  We eventually found the waterfalls in a scenic area where a small group of other Filipinos on their day off were having a barbecue.  We hung around at the site of the falling water for a while to chill out and take some photosMoe even put his feet in the pool at the bottom to relax after a tiring week at the office.  “This is so far away from Central,” he said in peace.

After an ice cream stop at 7-Eleven back by the bus station — there is no shortage of 7-Eleven’s in Hong Kong (even in a place like Lantau) — we hopped on a public bus to the other side of the island with the other daytrippers.  We were dropped off at the entrance of the Po Lin Monastery, the largest temple in the Hong Kong SAR, built in 1924 and frequented by not only the Buddhist monks who live and pray there, but also the crowds of local tourists in town for the weekend.  On the grounds of the monastery was a famous vegetarian restaurant run by the monks as a means of an income to support their cause, where we sat down for a pre-set menu of their regular fare of mushrooms, Chinese vegetables and soy bean products

“I think this is the most amount of vegetables I’ve had in the past six months,” I said.

“Your mom would be proud,” Aviva said.  “Actually, she’s paying us.”

We walked through the main gate and explored the temple buildings of the monastery along with other day trippers — one of which was passed out on a bench sleeping.  “I should hang out with that guy,” Moe joked.  “He looks like he’s in an MBA class.”

After walking amidst the others not sleeping in the area, burning incense and kneeling before statues of small Buddhas in the various shrines, we went to go see the big Buddha next door:  Tian Tan, the largest outdoor bronze seated Buddha in China for that matter (picture above).  Our meal tickets got us entrance up the 260 steps to see the massive religious icon up-close, standing (sitting rather) at 26.4 meters tall high atop a hill that overlooked the surrounding Lantau countryside.  Up there we walked right under Buddha’s nose and inside its podium, the location of a museum with many calligraphic paintings that none of us could understand.  From atop the hill we were able to see the island mist on one side of the island that made smaller surrounding islands look like mountain peaks in a cloud forest, and the construction development on another side.

“What do you suppose that’s going to be?” I asked.

“Looks like maybe a racetrack,” Aviva said.  Along with 7-Eleven’s, Hong Kong had no shortage of horse race tracks for ever popular hobby of horse betting. 

“Or a shopping mall.”

“Either a hi-rise office building, a shopping mall or racetrack,” Meg added.

“That’s pretty much all there is to Hong Kong,” Moe said.  Lantau may have been his escape for this one day, but perhaps in the future it wouldn’t be the same.


A BUS TOOK US TO THE SMALL CITY of Tung Chung, with the train station of Lantau for the subway that would take us back to Hong Kong Island on a long high-speed train with no doors in between cars.  I had paid the fare with my new Octopus card, Hong Kong’s electronic debit card system for the public transportation (and 7-Eleven’s), elevating me to “local” status as Aviva told me.

Back in the city of central Hong Kong Island, we stopped in the International Finance Center (IFC) to go to the “C!ty Super” Japanese-owned gourmet supermarket, so super they had to use an exclamation point for the “i” in their logo.  We walked out to the walkways passed the thousands of Filipinos still out on the walkways at their picnics, and then up The Great Escalator to get take out dinner at “Ch!cken-On-The Run,” an Australian eatery so great they too had decided to use an exclamation point for their “i.”  The two roasted chickens we ordered (and the beers we got next door) would balance out the too healthy vegetarian meal we had from the monks.

At the end of a tiring, yet relaxing day away from the craziness of the city, we just had dinner in Meg’s new apartment.  We sat around and drank our beers and reminisced about our day on Lantau !sland, its Silverm!ne Waterfalls and big seated T!an Tan Buddha.






Next entry: The Greens Under The Glass

Previous entry: Keeping Up With The Raichelsons




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Comments for “A Day Away With A Big Buddha”

  • HEY ALL:  Yup, I’m still behind… please stay patient!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/18  at  10:37 AM


  • LIZ:  You’re going to have to lock me in a room until I’m all caught up with The Blog; I’m a week behind! 

    I’ll call you tonight (Sunday) to talk about our meeting point tomorrow…

    In the meantime, get ready for your close-up, “The Trinidad Show” is coming to Tokyo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/18  at  10:39 AM


  • AVIVA/MOE:  Your names get exclamation points too:  Av!va and Maur!ce.  Thanks for being such gracious hosts!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/18  at  10:41 AM


  • Lock you up hunh?  I’m at the office tonight working, but the number you have is for my cell phone.  If you are ok with the e-mail directions I sent, no need to call unless you want to.  I’ll be hanging out on the platform at Tokyo station waiting for you.

    The “super” is actually what Japanese people call the grocery store.  Short for supermarket.  Just wait till you get here and see all the other weird English short-forms they use.

    Posted by Liz  on  09/18  at  02:46 PM


  • Get ready for your deput Liz!  Looking forward to seeing Erik’s comments on Tokyo!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/18  at  04:21 PM


  • I never got to see the T!an Tan Buddah because I didn’t give myself enough time in HK. I’m sorry I didn’t.

    LIZ: My favourite is Peto-Bottle! In my first few hours in Kyoto, I baught a bottle of not “Mizu” but “Minn-er-ol Wuo-tar.” When I was finnished, I wanted to be a good global citizen and recycle it in the proper bin. I stood in confusion as I read the words “Peto-Bottle” bellow a round hole. I wasn’t sure if it was for Glass, plasitc or both so I tossed the bottle in and hoped for the best.

    HAVE FUN !N TOKYO ER!K

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  04:58 AM


  • I was lucky enough to be in Hong Kong for a short time in 2001, I recognize many of the places in your photos.  I remember the overpass by the ferry with all the maids on it and I also took that ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong.  Good stuff.  Wish I was back.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  07:24 AM


  • And holy shit, I just read on the bootsnall message boards that Sunday September 19th is ‘International talk like a pirate day’!!

    aaarrrrrr nothing like bein’ a day late matey!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  07:34 AM


  • http://www.thomasscott.net/
    yarr/yebewarned.pdf

    [THIS LINK HAS BEEN SPLIT IN TWO FOR PAGE FORMATTING REASONS; COPY AND PASTE IT TOGETHER.]

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  07:36 AM


  • ER!K Hope you got to Tokyo safely ...We m!ss you already…Av!va & Moe

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  01:17 PM


  • GREETINGS FROM MEGA-TOKYO!!!  I’m here and I’ve finally met LIZ… who is just as nice in person as she is on-line.  (FYI: This is my first stay-in with a Blogreader I’ve never known until the creation of The Blog.)

    I’ll be catching up soon…

    TD0T:  Suggestions on Japan sights?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  07:26 PM


  • Arr, I be websensed matey!

    (websense = web lockout software that prevents seeing things like international talk like a pirate day)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  07:36 PM


  • Don’t miss Shibuya!, Shinjuku, Ropponggi &  KAMAKURA !! Looking forward to the pics ... Ja’Mata’

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  07:41 PM


  • BILL:  Yaar…  The website be pretty as a lass.  Thanks!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  08:01 PM


  • AVIVA/MOE:  Flight was great; there was an hour layover in Taipei so I didn’t arrive until nightfall.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  08:08 PM


  • ERIK/LIZ - Package sent via USPS Global Express, so be on the watch for a 8x8x8 box…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  08:50 PM


  • Can’t wait to hear your adventures in Lizland!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  09:18 PM


  • ERIK: Since I was visiting friends in Mei Prefecture for most of my stay in Japan, I didn’t do much sight seeing at all. I had one full day in Kyoto and that was about all. So unless you’re headed to Kansai I can’t be of much help. Sorry…

    I’ll have more for you when you get to S.E.A.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  11:08 PM


  • Did you fly Cathay Pacific?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/19  at  11:11 PM


  • TD0T:  Yup, Cathay was an entertainment overload with sooo many movies I wanted to see, all playing at the same time:  Shrek 2, Van Helsing, Ghostbusters, Rain Man, Harry Potter, etc.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  03:34 AM


  • I’m locking Erik in my apartment to get caught up on the blog while I’m at work ... but I forked over the AR5 episodes for him, so he may not be productive wink

    Posted by Liz  on  09/20  at  04:17 AM


  • Eirk: I got your postcard from China today! Thanks.

    Cathay is great! What’s your favourite airline so far?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  04:56 AM


  • TD0T:  Virgin.  One day I hope to fly Virgin first class so I can sit at their in-flight Austin Power-esque bar.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  05:44 AM


  • Forgot to mention… It’s the 11th month anniversary… Wow.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  06:04 AM


  • I forgot to mention - Man, I would HATE to only have one day off in a week - EW! That sounds terrible!

    That island sounds like a lovely getaway - but those stairs are killer. All that food looked deelish, I tell you…

    Amazing Race won best reality show on the Emmys last night - I was stoked…
    Congrats on the 11 month anniversary!! YEAY!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  09:06 AM


  • OF COURSE THE AMAZING RACE WON… no other show comes close.  Other than maybe “24,” what other show do you get so into so much that you actually yell at the TV?

    PLEASE NO ONE REVEAL THE WINNER OF AR5 until me and Liz have seen it this week!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  09:18 AM


  • Well, seeing as I avoid reality shows like the plague, and I liked AMAZING RACE, I’d have to agree… plus, it’s a Bruckheimer TV product - it has to be a little good…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/20  at  10:47 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
The Greens Under The Glass

Previous entry:
Keeping Up With The Raichelsons




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

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Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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