Saturday, July 23, 2005

Big Buddha and Other Adventures

Big Buddha
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
The last two days in Hong Kong have been very fun, today especially. Yesterday we went up to Victoria Peak via the Tram. It was a spectacular view of the city, especially at night when all of the buildings lit up. You can click my flickr link on the left to see photos.

Today was a great time. We headed out for Lantau Island, west of Hong Kong Island. It took about an hour by ferry. Then we headed up by bus to the Po Lin Monastery, which is home of the Big Buddha in the picture. The monastery itself was very big, with lots of interesting buddha figures and a lot of places to light incense. I found myself wishing that I knew a bit more about buddhism so that I could understand what was going on. At around 1:30, the Monks gathered in the monestery and began chanting. It was very soothing to listen to. I wanted to take photos, but it wasn't allowed.

After the Po Lin Monastery, Gary and I decided to hike down to the small fishing village of Tai O on the west end of the island. About 10 minutes into the walk, a dog decided to tag along, and it never left our side for the entire hour and a half or so that it took to get there. Gary figures he's lost 5 pounds already from all of the walking we've been doing. The hike was beautiful. On the way we saw several more monasteries in the hills, some shacks and some HUGE spiders.

When we got to Tai O, we wandered through the markets and then headed for the stilt houses. A man from the village who was walking in our direction and who spoke English, gave us a tour of the town. The stilt houses were amazing to look at. Imagine about 10 city blocks worth of houses all on stilts, and all connected by homemade planks. I thinkg the houses were also homemade. One lady, as we were walking by wanted us to stop and look at her house because she was proud that it was brand new. It was a tin house with a tin roof and a wooden door. I can imagine what it must be like to sleep in there when it's raining. It was nice and shiny though, and you could tell it was new. Our guide told us that everyone in the town is very content to live there, and they all live long lives. The aged appartment complex was huge.

He took us to a temple and gave us incense to light, and said that we should pray for long life, good health and happiness. He told us that our marriage was destined from before birth, so we would be very happy together.

He also showed us a cemetery on a hillside . He said it is good Feng Shui to have the cemetery facing a mountain, but because of government rules, they now need to be cremated to save space.

I bought a bracelet from him before we left. It was just a cheap one, but I like it and he said the inscriptions on each bead are Buddhist Prayers.

All in all it was a great day. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and see the way people in small villages live. There were tourists galore at the Po Lin Monastery, but as far as I could tell, we were some of the few if any tourists in Tai O, and we were certainly the only ones who walked down from the monastery. There weren't really any sidewalks, and there were a few close calls dodging trucks that came whipping around corners.


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