It was nice to wake up in a familiar hotel, and once again the iClub assigned us a room with a great view of the bay. We also had an interesting view of some fellows strapping together bamboo scaffolding on a job site across the street. Duncan monitored them closely and we were both pleased to see they wore proper sit harnesses and were tethered to bolts in the concrete. It would have been even better if their tools were tethered too.
After that show we made our way to the Central Piers to catch the ferry to Mui Wo, which is on Lantau Island. After docking at Silvermine Bay we caught the bus up to the Nong Ping Plateau. It was a fast and furious ride that followed switchbacks up and down the mountainsides while also curving along (and occasionally skimming) the rugged coastline.
Along the way we spotted a busy village, some beaches, a large reservoir, a few resorts and not one but two heavily reinforced prisons. Otherwise we were limited to the jungle on either side of the road with but a few quick peeks through the brush as we neared the top.
It was only after leaving the bus that we caught a glimpse of our primary objective, the Tian Tan Buddha, the largest seated bronze Buddha in the world. While much smaller and much younger than the Le Shan Buddha we visited last year, this Big Buddha is rather impressive. Seated at the top of a peak Tian Tan can be seen from as far away as Macau.
The approach from the bus drop off has been dressed up a lot since I was there with Hunter and Aidan in 2007. There is now a wide boulevard lined with sculptures of the 12 Divine Generals. Each one represents an animal from the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac and also represents two hours of a day. I don’t know if the two-hour angle is traditional, but it is new to me.
We next walked up the 260 steps to the three-tiered lotus-leaf base on which Tian Tan is seated. Once again, we were reminded of the benefits of making fitness a retirement priority.
The upper landing features six stone statues of Bodhisattvas, which are Buddhist deities which are revered for helping mortals reach enlightenment. Inside this structure there is a small prayer hall, some revered relics of a mortal who reached Enlightenment (aka a Buddha), some lovely artworks (no photos allowed) and many niches for cremains and/or offerings.
After waking down the steps we crossed the grounds to enjoy the set-menu lunch as included in our ticket to Tian Tan. The food served at the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant was delicious, abundant and nourishing too.
Po Lin was originally a small house of worship founded by three monks. The Great Hall in the main temple was built in the 1920's, the Tian Tan Buddha was unveiled in 1993 and most recently a massive structure known as the Hall of the Ten Thousand Buddhas has been built behind the original main shrine. We could peak in and listen to monks and other people chanting but as usual photos were not permitted. This was fine by me as the exquisite exteriors provided ample options for colourful compositions.