Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hong Kong - Big Buddha

After traveling for 24 hours and going without stopping for two days, I decided I needed to sleep in and not have a jam-packed day. Sara and I took it easy in the morning with a delicious brunch at Waygnu Lounge with her friend, Chris. I forgot just how good smoked salmon, with a mound of cream cheese on a warm bagel is!

Then Sara and I headed out to Lantau, which is about a 40-minute metro ride outside the city. Lantau is a hot tourist spot with the cable car ride across the island, traditional fishing villages, boat rides, monasteries, hiking and the Tian Tan Buddha or better known as “Big Buddha.” Unfortunately, we arrived at the peak touring hour on a Saturday so we had to wait for a bus. After another 40-minute ride we made it to Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha.

Statue of Liberty only 12,968 km away!

I didn’t do my homework beforehand; therefore I thought the Big Buddha was an ancient, amazing wonder of the world. Little did I know. Turns out it was built around 1993 by the MTR metro company to attract tourists. Well, it worked!

However, the statue still has a magnificent aura about it. I greatly enjoyed getting up close and personal view of it after climbing 412 steps. And it gave a magnificent view over the island!

Once we made it back down to the bottom, we wandered around the Po Lin Monastery. However, a majority of it is under construction. We didn’t spend much time wandering. Instead we bought postcards and tea. Then we walked through the Ngong Ping Village, another tourist trap. It’s a newly built shopping and restaurant area masked as a village experience. There’s even a Starbucks! Sara and I weren’t interested in shopping. We passed through to get to the cable cars. In the process, we stumbled upon a Korean comedy cooking act. It only caught our attention for a few seconds.

One of the best parts of the day was riding the cable cars. I’m usually a scardy cat when it comes to heights but I sucked it up to take in the breathtaking views of the island. It’s about a 25 minute ride through the mountains and over the water back to the metro station. Every minute was worth it!

By then it was around 5pm, so we headed back to the city. I parted ways with Sara to meet up with Will and his side of Hong Kong. He gave me a tour of his humble abode, the Mariner’s Club. You can learn more about it on his blog post. Then we headed to get Vietnamese food. I tried Pho Noodles and ate mussels. Another scrumptious meal!

The rest of the night was filled with catching up and some wonderful friend time! We headed up to the highest bar in the world, Ozone. First, you take an elevator from the Ritz Carlton lobby to the 103rd floor. Then you transfer to another elevator to go up to the 118th floor. Finally, you transfer to Ozone’s personal elevator, which I forgot the floor number. It was high! Your ears pop as you go up each elevator.

The ceiling above the escalator on the way up to the Ritz Carlton lobby.

Hong Kong skyline looking minuscule with the reflection of the bar on top. 
My drink was called the Sweet Life! Couldn't agree more.
We arrived just in time to sit on their outdoor deck and watch the light show, which occurs on Hong Kong Island every night at 8pm. The city looked like tiny building blocks from where we were sitting. Crazy!

Ozone is a place where you only get one drink because of the price. I think you pay more for the atmosphere and experience. The next stop was an Irish Pub where we watched some good ole English football and I drank my first Guinness. Finally, we walked over to the Avenue of Stars to take in the city skyline at night. It’s pretty remarkable. And to think it was all built in the past 60 or 70 years!

It was the perfect ending to another great day in Hong Kong. While the day wasn’t jam-packed I got to have great, quality time with friends!

Thanks for reading!

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