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.