Is that post title in poor taste? Mmmmmmaybe a little but I find it works in this situation just like that time I used a Nicki Minaj song for another travel destination in Hong Kong. Also, I had to sit through Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha so I think this is just fine.
Take a trip out East on Hong Kong’s MTR on the Tung Chung line and ride it all the way to the very end. Your Octopus card will take a bit of a hit once you tap to exit the turnstile but where you’re headed is well worth the price. Follow the signs with the picture of a gondola (not the kind you see floating in water – the kind that takes you over rivers and mountains) and find your way to Ngong Ping 360 – your gateway to the world’s largest Buddha.
Don’t pay for the glass-bottomed gondola because in reality it’s not really worth the extra money AND it also forces you to look down at the ground beneath you and if you are like me (and have a natural fear of heights – even though I’ve bungied and jumped out of airplanes) then you will not want to look down. The view out of the windows is spectacular enough and can make you queasy as the gondola slightly sways with the high winds as you travel above Lantau Island to the monastery.
As you make your way through the peaks and valleys look down and see that there is a trail that you can take to and from the monastery and it reminds you that before modern conveniences, like this gondola, the only way to get there was by foot. Passing over this trail just makes your legs tired and even seeing people scattered along it as the gondola passes over them makes you ever so glad that you don’t need to take that walk.
As the gondola makes a final turn you see it in the distance. The Big Buddha. It’s much larger than imagined, even if you know the dimensions. It was a similar experience for me when I saw Picasso’s Guernica for the first time. I knew it was large and extremely detailed but seeing it in person brought to light just how impressive a piece of art it actually is. The Big Buddha is no different. There are numerous hills in every direction but the only one you look at has Buddha sitting on it.
After you have left the Gondola it is a quick walk through a highly Westernized area that has a yoghurt shop, a cafe and even a Subway – because you know the monks like to “Eat Fresh” too. Once through this area you make your way down a white stone pathway and essentially just follow the people as they are all going to The Big Buddha – also you can’t miss it because it’s Big.
Once you have had a look around the Buddha and have taken in the 360º view of Lantau Island walk through the monastery grounds and see the dogs that live there and, when I was there, even a yak can be seen walking around and walk along the trail to the Wisdom Path which “traces a series of 38 wooden steles (upright monuments) containing verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra; one of the world’s best-known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. These steles display the Chinese version of the prayer, based on the calligraphy of famous contemporary scholar Professor Jao Tsung-I, and are arranged in a ∞ pattern, which represents infinity.”
After walking through the monastery and the short trail that led you out to the Wisdom Path it is time to head back and catch the gondola before they stop running. As you sit in the gondola take in the beauty of the island and the Buddha one last time because you never know when if you will ever be back and to be fair the Buddha is not rockin’ everywhere like my title suggests, it just rocks here but the journey here is well worth it.