Monday, October 26, 2009

HK with my mom and dad

I've spent the last few days in HK with my mom and dad.
Seeing the city through tourist eyes forces you to take advantage of what's on your doorstep. I've always been pretty lazy when it comes to the city I live in. I usually spend my time off in HK sleeping and recovering from the latest trip
I know there's stuff out there to see, but you don't go and have a look unless someone comes to visit.
We went to Big Buddha on Lantu Island.
I've been before and posted about it here.
To get there you take the MTR ( subway) on the Tung Chung line right to the end (the orange line).
This looks a long way on the map but only takes about 30 minutes from the central station (the start of the line). The fare costs $20.50 HK ( about $2.80). From there you take a 35 minute cable car ride ( a bit more pricey at $140 HK return-roughly $25). It was pretty hazy on the day we went so there aren't any pictures on this post though I snapped a few the last time I was there. Visiting the Big guy is free though you can pay $60HK and get a veggie meal served by the monks if that's your thing.

Between you and the Statue is a little "village" which is built to appear authentic but isn't. A Starbucks , various souvenir shops and a naff theatre complete with artificial Banyan tree ( much photographed) are strategically placed to get between you and your cash whilst you head for the sight you've come all this way to see.

Is it all a bit tacky?
It is a little, but in a "I'm a tourist so what the hell" fun kind of way.

The steps leading up to the Buddha are steep and there are 268 of them. A winding access road for buses and the less fit give people a less rigorous option though when I was there the elderly and infirm were gamely toughing it out.
The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. The Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. It is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues known as "The Offering of the Six Devas" and are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.[1]
The Buddha is 34 metres (110 ft) tall, weighs 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was the world's tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007.[2] It reputedly can even be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day. Visitors have to climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha, though the site also features a small winding road to the Buddha for vehicles to accommodate the handicapped.
The Tian Tan Buddha appears serene and dignified. His right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction. His left hand rests on his lap in a gesture of giving dhana. The Buddha faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south.
In addition, there are 3 floors beneath the Buddha statue: The Hall of Universe, The Hall of Benevolent Merit, and The Hall of Remembrance. One of the most renowned features inside is a
relic of Gautama Buddha, consisting of some of his alleged cremated remains. There is a huge carved bell inscribed with images of Buddhas in the show room. It was designed to ring every seven minutes, 108 times a day, symbolising the release of 108 kinds of human vexations.

So says Wiki and as I couldn't say it better myself; I cut and pasted.

We also visited the Botanic Gardens. The weather was pleasant and it was a pleasure. Outside of the autumn, I think a walk around would be tough work. It has a small zoo and is a sizable green space integrated into the heart of the city. When you live in HK you often whisk along in the back of taxis along bridges and over passes and wonder what sort of urban hell is down below.

Its actually rather pleasent.

We also went to one of the many markets in HK.
As is usual they are often specialising in one or two things with a good measure of "light industrial workshops mixed in. The market that we went too was just off Hollywood Road (known for upmarket antiques) and had a decidedly "cultural Revolutionary era kitch.
There was the occasional "rude" exhibit in case you got bored with the Red Guard imagery.
My parents are heading off on a two week cruise through Asia and we spent the last day together on the Kowloon side of HK in the Star Ferry area walking along the waterfront and enjoying the rather temperate 25 degree weather.
I had a great time with them.
They're back in two weeks and we're going to Beijing to see the Forbidden City and Great Wall in mid November.
I'm presently in Singapore and am doing a bit of a dash across Asia this week but will be home for the weekend.
I hope all is well with you where ever you may be.
Stay well

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