Bad weather at the Big Buddha

One of the first overtly tourist places that I went to after moving to Hong Kong was head up to the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. Mid-July, sunny and so typically-Hong-Kong hot and humid that I thought I may pass out on the stairway up to the buddha statue.

Po Lin is kind of out of the way for me, though, and since there's not really too much going up there for locals, I haven't been back in the four years since then. Enter the Year of The Goat, and the year has just been one damn thing after another. Bad luck, according to our more superstitious frineds and relatives: I'm a Horse and my wife is a Goat, and apparently, this isn't the greatest year for either of these two Chinese zodiac characters. The advice from my grandmother-in-law was that the only way you can cure this is through a visit to a couple of specific temples in Hong Kong. You guessed it: Po Lin is one of them.

So this put the idea of a trip out there firmly into our consciousness, but it still wasn't exactly a burning issue for us. But after finding ourselves at alittle bit of a loose loose end last weekend, we decided on Saturday that a trip back to Po Lin, more for a look around again and a ride on the Nong Ping cable car than anything about the luck changing, may not be a bad move. Even with the bad press surrounding Nong Ping, the tourist village up there, and especially the cable car, which has been plagued with some Very Bad Things since its opening, climaxing in the time that one of the gondolas came right off the cable and crashed to the mountain below. Luckily empty at the time.

Plus, Nong Ping had to a tourist trap, right?

So, we wake up on Sunday morning, look out the window (our bedroom has a view right across the channel to Tung Chung, and the cable cars going up the mountain) and we see grim weather. Coffee and discussion in bed follow, and we nearly stayed in bed and waited for more auspicious weather. But in the end, we decided to head out, no matter what the weather was like, so long as we left early to avoid the crowds.

Weather didn't improve. We didn't exactly have the best view from our gondola on the way up to the temple:

Big Buddha (76 of 76)-Edit

And this was the sunny face of Nong Ping, waiting to greet us:

Big Buddha (1 of 76)

Still, the Buddha statue in was much more moody in the mist than in the bright sunlight, like last time, and the atmosphere was pretty intense. Felt like we were headed off to learn one of the great secrets of the Universe, known only to a few and half-hidden through th ages by a band of select Shaolin monks (who apparently do daily shows for tourists at Nong Ping, so there you go).

Big Buddha (29 of 76)

Seems like we weren't the only ones headed up there with a view to getting good things:

Big Buddha (4 of 76)

A new addition to the temple complex is the Garden of Knowledge, which is on the Path of Wisdom (10 minutes walk, which is the quickest way to get wise available) :

Big Buddha (40 of 76)

Big Buddha (38 of 76)

Not that it got me any wiser: can't read Chinese, so I couldn't read the inscriptions. Still, a very strange spot, and well worth the walk. Nice details, too:

Big Buddha (39 of 76)

Speaking of details, this is a floor detail of the main temple:

Big Buddha (28 of 76)

All told, it's worth a visit. Just try not to get taken in by the prices up on the hill there, becauce they are very different to those down the bottom, and get in early to avoid the tour groups, which tend to go up there for lunch. You can read more about the place in this wikipeida entry: