In the far far east, rising out of the sea and the mist lies the island of Lantau......
Enough being a novelist!
Lantau has become mainstream since Hong Kong moved the international airport out to a man-made island off its north coast. The main town is Tung Chung, the highway and MTR cross it to/from the airport. From Tung Chung there is a really long cable car (gondola) ride to Ngong Ping. This is relatively expensive and being thrifty, I decided instead to take a ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau and the bus to Ngong Ping.
At Ngong Ping is the Tian Tan Buddha. It is one of the five largest Buddha statues in China.
The Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. The Buddha is 34 metres tall, and I'll take their word for it that it weighs 250 metric tons. 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 (temptresses!).
It reputedly can even be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day - not that you get many of those in Hong Kong! But is was a bit clearer on Lantau than in Hong Kong on the same day. And I did see it from the bus passing the main reservoir on the south side of the island.
Visitors have to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha, you will see photos of a lady who knelt on every step to give praise to Buddha!
The Tian Tan Buddha appears serene and his right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction. The Buddha faces north, which makes it hard to get a good photo against the sun, but helps in at least one photo I took, see the last one.
At the base of the hill on which the Big Buddha sits is the Po Lin Monastery. It is known as the "Buddhist Kingdom in the South". The monastery was built by three Zen masters in 1920, but in recent times they added the great hall - you can spot which one this is in the photos. The main temples have painted vermilion interiors with dragons and other Chinese mythical figures on the walls and ceilings in stone carvings. There is also a vegetarian restaurant.
It seems to be a fairly thriving complex for tourism as well.
In fact there is a contest going on between this temple and the one at Man Fat Sze (see page) in Sha Tin, known as the temple of 10,000 Buddhas. Lo Pin now claim 10,800+ Buddhas.
Ahh! The competition between temples! Something I never knew existed, but of course they want to attract sponsors who pay a lot for a private plaque or Buddha dedicated to their family health and well being.