Friday, April 28, 2017

Hong Kong | Day Three

Tai O Fishing Village

The stilt houses of Tai O

Nathan and Charlotte trying some grilled octopus

Trying to spot dolphins on a short hike from the village


graves set into the mountainside

  Since we were in Hong Kong for only 5 nights, we wanted to make sure we explored as much as possible of this massive metropolis. Before we arrived, I started researching what there is to see and do in Hong Kong, and I learnt that there are actually several areas that make up Hong Kong, including Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong Island, and several other islands off the coast. The two most visited islands of Hong Kong are probably Lamma Island, which I blogged about last, and Lantau Island, home to the famous Tai O fishing village, and the Big Buddha. There is also a cable car that runs from Tung Chung, a city on Lantau Island, to Po Lin Monastery, which is where the Big Buddha is located. Unfortunately for us, the cable car wasn't running while we were visiting, due to maintenance on the cable line. There are still bus connections running all over the island though, so we decided to visit anyway.

We started our day by taking the ferry across from Central in Hong Kong, to Mui Wo, a town on the island. We then had to take a bus from there to Tai O village. The village is set among the mountains, on the western coast of Lantau, and is a traditional fishing village, which has now become popular for tourists who come to try the dried fish, and photograph the stilt houses standing up in the water.
The village is quite pretty with the mountains in the background, but it is very touristy, and all the shops set up in the village are all selling the same types of dried fish, and the same souvenirs. We have also seen stilt houses already in a lot of places in Vietnam and Cambodia, so this wasn't a particularly unique sight. However, we knew there must be something more to this village, and we were right.

Keep walking past the crowds of tourists, past the fish markets, past the people trying to sell you a boat tour, and you will find a path leading up to a set of stairs. There are hardly any tourists up here, and you will wonder why, as this surely must be the best part of Tai O? The stairs led us to an amazing viewpoint of the ocean in front of us, and the mountains behind us, with graves and tombs set into the mountainside. Apparently this spot is also a good dolphin watching place, but we did not see any. I did manage to trip on the stairs going down though, and gave myself a bloody, grazed knee 😝

At Ngong Ping village

The Big Buddha

the Big Buddha covered by clouds

Baby has a nap

Po Lin Monastery

Amazing vine covered trees

After exploring Tai O, we then took another bus to Ngong Ping village, where the Big Buddha, and Po Lin Monastery are located. Tian Tan Buddha, as it is formally known as, is a bronze buddha statue sitting at 34m high on top of a mountain, with 268 steps to climb up to the base of the statue. When we visited, the entire village was basically inside a cloud, and the clouds would occasionally shift and allow us a view of the statue. It was a very interesting experience walking through the clouds!
While the Buddha statue is relatively new, being built in 1993 as a part of the monastery, the monastery itself was founded in 1906, and is beautifully surrounded by lush green trees.

The village next to the monastery is of course very touristy, but still quite pretty. We stopped and had lunch there, before taking a bus down to Tung Chung, where we caught the metro back to our airbnb. This was actually the first time we had taken the metro in Hong Kong, and we were pleasantly surprised by how clean the train was, and how organized the stations are. After traveling in SE Asia for so long, with practically zero public transport available, it sure was a nice change to experience a reliable form of public transport! Actually, the metro was so nice, and very fast, that we wished we had just taken it at the start of the day, rather than taking the ferry to the island. The metro is so convenient, and even on a weekend day it wasn't too crowded.

Thanks for reading :)
Hannah xx

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