While in Hong Kong last month, we went on a Semester at Sea FDP with Professor Jim Huffman and took the hour-long bus ride over to Lantau Island, the biggest of the Islands District isles and home to one of the world’s biggest airports—which sees many flights to Hong Kong arrive daily from major hubs all over the world—as well as Disneyland.
Our first stop was to the ancient fishing village of Tai O, where time seems to have halted.
It’s hard to believe this old, traditional village—where the houses still stand on stilts—is just a quick drive from the cosmopolitan hub of Hong Kong.
There are pink dolphins in the harbor here—allegedly, as I didn’t see any—and they run dolphin-watching tours out to see them. Though a few of my friends who have gone on such excursions say they look far more white than pink. Still, a dolphin is a dolphin is a dolphin, and pink or white, I wouldn’t have minded spotting a few.
Lantau Island is most famous for the Giant (or Tian Tan) Buddha; you can even go inside him where there’s a museum, gift shop and more. We opted not to take the 240 stairs up and rode right up to the entrance in the bus instead, before riding back down the hill and having lunch at the Po Lin Monastery.
Truth be told, I liked the other bronze statues surrounding Buddha more than I liked Buddha himself.
The monastery was way more of a circus than the traditional monastery I had envisioned, with countless tourist shops and bubble machines flanking the walkways and even a Starbucks.
My favorite part of the day came at the end when we took a cable car from the monastery area for nearly half an hour, all the way down to Hong Kong again. It was a cloudy day, but a beautiful view nonetheless.
I’m not sure Lantau Island is a necessity to see while in Hong Kong, but the views from the mountains sure were pretty, and it’s a calming break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
I never would have imagined a Starbucks in a monastery. Your photos are beautiful, as always.
cold rainy day and your pictures are still AMAZING. i dont understand it!!!! hehe. i definitely cant compete with your sunset/sunrise/sky photos with that Sigma 10-20mm lens of yours ;-)))))) nonetheless, thanks for a great photo friday. i LOVE that im following your footsteps this upcoming year tho!! thanks 4 posting about it so i can know waht to do! 😉 #inspired #KLchanneling
My go-to with cloudy day photos is turning them into black and white and having SVV do some tweaking in Lightroom! 😉
I think I like that picture of the mural best. There’s something oddly foreign yet oddly familiar about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Yeah, it’s like some American cartoon that I can’t think of either.
I wanted to take the cable cars so badly when we were there this summer… but they were under construction. I was also dying to see the pink dolphins, but bad weather prevented that as well!
Here is my version of Lantau Island: http://thewayfaringpeacock.blogspot.com/2011/10/would-you-look-at-that.html
I’ve done a lot of skiing over the past few years so I thought I was a bit over gondolas and cable cars, but this one was unlike any I’ve ever ridden before. Such amazing, changing views.
Such a different side of Hong Kong you’ve seen. It seems strange to think there are traditional stilt houses just a short distance from the bustle of the city. Please tell me you got a photo of the Starbucks at a monastery? I thought the tourists shops at Kek Lok Si in Penang were over the top but a Starbucks … that is just fabulous and sad at the same time.
I wish I had, but I was too rushed to get my own gelato a few doors down! =)
Hm, that large Buddha looks a bit overwhelming, doesn’t it?
(Also… there’s a Disneyland in Hong Kong now? Taking over the world next, they will be 🙂 )
There is! And sadly, I contemplated going in the mere three days we had, ha. (I’m a Disney fanatic. Though I heard it’s about a quarter of the size of the U.S. parks.)
Gorgeous, like always. 🙂
Doesn’t seem quite right to have a Starbucks at a monastery – although I expect I would have stopped for a latte if I was passing by. 🙂 Your photos are lovely, as always.
And every single person from our group was in line at the Starbucks, too! Should say a little something about the ship coffee 😉
Hard to believe that Starbucks has infiltrated even a Buddhist monastery .. .
Amazing pictures! I was a little surprised by the bubbles and stores everywhere too, but I couldn’t believe how absolutely stunning the setting was. Wish we could have gone closer to the statue but the little guys would not have lasted.
Yeah, you don’t see the Starbucks in all the photos you typically see of Lantau Island, do you? =)
The bubble machines were actually pretty fun, though!
Tourism seems to pay the bills everywhere.
I think the cable ride would have been my favorite part. The views are awesome.
I usually feel claustrophobic in those aerial cars, but this one had nice vents and a cool breeze and the most magnificent views!
One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in Po Lin Monastery! Sorry you didn’t see any pink dolphins. 🙁
The food was OK when we were there, but nothing special. Maybe it’s gotten way more touristy than when you were there?
I’m somewhat terrified of cable cars. I think I’ve been on one before, but I was pretty little and I think it was pretty scary and traumatic for little me. Still though, it’s a wonderful way to see some landscapes.
Wow, a photo of the Buddha with no people? It’s always packed! But I do agree, preferred the other statues to the main one.
There were a good amount of people there, but I just waiting patiently and snapped my camera the second the coast was clear! =)
That very first image reminds me of San Francisco! This is definitely a place on my “list” to go. Just discovered it last week so I’m glad you wrote about it now in more depth and showed photographs. It seems a fascinating place.
Ha, I hadn’t even thought of it before, even though I spent the last four years in San Francisco, but you’re totally right: It does look a LOT like the Bay Bridge (and is the seventh longest bridge in the world, I believe).
I think the buddha pictures are intense. Way cool, and different, Hong Kong seems to have some cool variety. Great pictures though!
I love how diverse Hong Kong is. I’ve just come back, and like you say it’s great how old fishing villages lie side by side with sky scrapers! Thanks for sharing your trip!