We got off of our eight hour flight, tired, groggy, and in desperate need of nap. When we got to our hotel, we were dismayed to learn that our rooms weren’t ready. So instead of taking a quick two hour nap in our hotel beds, we settled for an uncomfortable two hour nap on the lobby sofas. Eventually, we were allowed into our rooms, but we barely had time to brush our teeth before we were being called back down to the lobby so that we could visit the Big Buddha.
To get to Big Buddha we had to ride the metro to the Ngong Ping 360. Ngong Ping 360 is a cable car that takes people up the mountains and to the Ngong Ping Village where you can walk to Big Buddha. The cable car was just big enough to fit six people before slowly rattling up the mountain. Our group of 48 was divided into 12 teams of 4. I was placed in a team with another girl, Nisha, and two boys who both shared the name Gary.
Initially, I was hesitant to get inside of the cable car. Every time it moved, it would swing dangerously from side to side. Not to mention that if anything goes wrong, you don’t have too many options for a quick escape route. Reluctantly, I followed my group inside of the cable car. I was ready to spend the entire trip shaking in fear, but once the cable car rose above the mountain, I was captivated.
Seeing Hong Kong spread out beneath us was mesmerizing. We all crowded the windows hoping to catch a picture good enough to be shared on Instagram (or Snapchat). The forest covered mountain and the blue sea were perfect backdrops for selfies. As we climbed higher and higher, we could see a small path beneath us with the occasional hiker. Eventually, we managed to tear our eyes away from the hiker just as the outline of Big Buddha appeared.
Even miles away, Buddha looked…well, big. He sits comfortably on top of his mountain, calmly gazing down on anyone who is brave enough to trek some 400 something stairs to greet him. Despite being far away from his gaze, I still had the urge to drop to my knees and start praying.
The cable car came to an awkward stop (actually, it just slowed down, and everyone had to hop out) at the entrance to the Ngong Ping village. My small group of four reunited with the rest of the 48, and we began to head into town.
A quick note about the village. Dogs and cows are literally everywhere. The same way that New Yorkers pass about 500 pigeons (and rats) on their way home, these villagers casually walk by infinite amounts of stray dogs and cows. Although, the dogs and cows are way more friendly than New York pigeons. They barely move when tourists start petting them, and a few of them even posed for a couple of pictures.
Once our guide managed to get everyone to stop petting the stray dogs, we began our trek up the 268 steps. Halfway up those steps, I could feel every muscle in my body start to burn. I was huffing and puffing, and after a quick glance at my friends, I quickly realized that I was the only person being affected by the ridiculous amount of stairs. When we finally reached the top, I immediately had to buy a bottle of water and take a seat somewhere (awful, I know).
After catching my breath, I began looking around. The view was amazing. You could see the sea and a few small islands in the distance. Everywhere you looked, you were surrounded by thick, green trees. And the fog had started to lift so that the sun seemed to be beaming down onto Buddha’s massive form.
We quickly ate lunch, then headed back to the cable cars so that we could begin exploring the city. Unfortunately, the line for the cable cars were so long that by the time we got down, there wasn’t time to do anything except head for the mall. After our brief mall visit, we headed down to the Hong Kong light show. The show did have upbeat music, but the lights were underwhelming. It was impossible to discern which lights were a part of the show and which lights were just… there. Overall, it wasn’t too bad of a day.