Once upon a time, a man started off on a journey, leaving behind all the things that have today become the levers of our survival – things such as desire, family, love, happiness, achievement. He did not intend to create history. He did not intend to found a religion. He did not intend to be followed. Nor did he intend to be a god. However, his journey of self exploration and the eventual discovery of the within sowed the seeds of what he, I am sure, would have never expected. The world knows him as the selfless, the enlightened, the sacred, the humble, the gentle – the Buddha. And, my journey to explore the stories of Hong Kong began with a visit to the second largest (at the time of this writing) embodiment by man of the god Buddha.

The Big Buddha, also known as the Tian Tan Buddha, is located at Ngong Ping on the Lantau island. There are many ways of reaching the Big Buddha. One could take a train or a bus. The exciting method to me would, however, be the other two that I know of. If there is a fifth way to reach, please let me know. The other two methods are – Cable Ride and the Hike. The hiking trip to the Buddha is definitely on my bucket list. This time, however, it was the cable ride. Unaware at first that cable ride is a part of the itinerary led to further excitement and butterflies in the stomach, when I came to know about the eventual plan of sitting in cabins suspended more than 100 feet above the ground and water bodies. The cable ride from above the mountains and the landscapes is definitely one of those moments that go down as “been there done that” in one’s autobiography. Rolling above the peaks, climbing besides the Hong Kong international airport, and in between the various peaks and mountains in the region, the cable ride takes 25 minutes to reach from one end to another, as one looks down to the civilization growing below. Once on the Ngong Ping village, the area could be divided into various sections such as food and beverages, souvenir and shops, attractions such as Action 360 and Motion 360, and the walk and climb to the Big Buddha.

The first attraction that we attended was Walk with The Big Buddha. This show captures the essence of the Buddha and the origin and making of the legend. After the enchanting story of how it all began, I attended two more shows – Action 360, delivered through a world class stage set-up, highlights the history and aura of the Hong Kong movie industry, and Motion 360,  which gave a 5D experience to the audience. Post this, nearing sunset, we made the small walk and climb to the Big Buddha.  Finally, it was a time to pay a visit to the shops around that offer a plethora of culture embodied in various creative artifacts. The food village hosts a wide range of satisfactions catering to the palate of the visitors.

Meanwhile, time did what it does best. It flew by. It was already the ending lights of the day and the dawn of dusk. It was time to get back in the cable car. However, this time, the ride was about to be a thrilling, but not at all scary, experience.  By the time the return travel on the cable car started, the moon was smiling upon us as it polished the gentle Buddha in distance. The wingtips on the aircraft landing nearby were a symbol of getting back to the civilization from the nature’s arms. The clear starry sky reminded me of the great scientist William Herschel’s notion of the sky being full of ghosts (stars). As we rolled back, three sounds accompanied us – that of the cool wind ventilating through the cabin, the rolling of the cabin over the cables, and the silence as we looked at the breathtaking view ahead of us – at the horizon of the darkness was the golden line that grew up vertically – the city.

Ironically, the Buddha left the civilization, went into nothingness, found singularity and became a legend. It was the reverse for everybody back on that cabin as we bid good bye to the Big Buddha, for now.

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Itinerary:

  1. Bus no. E23 from Whampoa to Tung Chung Crescent.
  2. Reached Tung Chung Crescent by 2:20PM
  3. Walk to the Cable Ride point
  4. Took the 360 Ngong Ping 360 Ticket that covers The Big Buddha, Walk with Buddha, Action 360, And Motion 360
  5. Cable car ride to Ngong Ping village
  6. Reached Ngong Ping village.
  7. Did the Walk with Buddha
  8. Did the Action 360
  9. Walked to the Big Buddha
  10. Visited a few souvenir shops
  11.  Did the Motion 360
  12. Return Cable Ride (the last cable rise on this day was at 6:30 PM
  13. One can cover the entire agenda in 4 to 5 hours. However, the plan would be fast paced. To spend some time in the evening, one may look at reaching the Cable car boarding point by 1 PM. December is the best time.

Vegan alert: Pack some food with yourselves if you are a vegan.