On our third morning in Hong Kong, I woke up with a horrible cold. My throat was scratchy, and my sinuses were stuffy. We'd already set aside the day to go up to the Tian Tan Buddha, so I sucked it up, because I did not want to miss it. Being sick while travelling is the worst!
We went up to Central for a late breakfast/early brunch at Wagyu, an Australian restaurant. It was fancy for two travellers on a budget, but thankfully it wasn't too much more expensive than we were expecting. It was virtually empty since we were there at an awkward time of morning, so service was quick, and the food was fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the freshly squeezed orange juice, which I like to get as much of as I can when I'm sick.
From breakfast we hopped on the MTR out to Lantau Island. There was an obscenely long line to take the Ngong Ping Cable Car up, so once again we decided to join the significantly shorter line for the busses. I used the 40 minute ride to nap, and woke up on top of a mountain! The Big Buddha is part of a monastery complex, and is adjacent to a small tourist "village" with souvenir shops and restaurants. The area was crowded as people were still on holiday for the beginning of the new year, but as the entire complex is open to the air it didn't feel claustrophobic.
We made our way straight to the main attraction: the Big Buddha! It's free to climb the stairs and walk around, but there is the option of paying a small fee to get up inside the base of the Buddha and have a snack. Unfortunately the sun was directly behind the Buddha so I couldn't get many good photos, but I was really just in awe of how big it was. We took about 15 minutes to walk around the base before heading back down the stairs and over to the temple buildings of the Po Lin Monastery.
As these buildings are part of a functioning temple complex, many faithful Buddhists were there for prayer. It was very busy, so we did a quick pass through the temples to admire the workmanship before pausing on a shaded bench for a quick break.
After visiting the temples we were able to escape the crowds by heading down the Wisdom Path, one of many walking paths through the surrounding forest areas and mountains. The path took us past some grazing cows, much to the delight of some children around us, and to an installation of the Heart Sutra, carved on timber columns by artist Professor Jao Tsung-I. We followed the path through the installation, which led us to another natural path through some bushes and over some rocks to a small lookout area. We were the only two people up there, so we enjoyed the quiet, the cool breeze coming through the mountains, and the surprise view of the Big Buddha. The footpaths in the area range in terms of difficulty, and the Wisdom Path was perfect to do on a whim.
At this point we decided we wanted to head back into town, so we went to the cable car terminal and bought our tickets for the way down. We only had to wait about 25 minutes before being loaded into the car, and the ride down took the same amount of time. We had a good view of the Big Buddha on the way out of the terminus, and below us we saw some brave people actually hiking up the mountain along the Ngong Ping trail. As we crested the last major hill before descending to the terminus, we had a really nice view of the airport and the town around Tung Chung station.
Once off the cable car we went into Citygate Outlets for a late lunch in the mall's food court. By this time I was feeling pretty crappy, so we got back on the MTR and headed back into town. I crashed early, but Clem went back out to Kowloon Public Pier see the Chinese New Year fireworks; I wish I'd been able to go with him.
Next up: our last day in Hong Kong.
Previously: Arrival; Day 1; Day 2