It didn’t take long for me to find Hong Kong’s claustrophobic feeling of the skyscrapers to get too much, and my lack of interest in shopping required me to finding something further afield. The weather wasn’t ideal for hiking, which is a shame as there are some interesting routes on the islands.
So I decided more temples was in order. I headed to Ngong Ping to see the Big Buddha, and though I was initially disappointed to find the cable car wasn’t working I was eventually thankful. It meant it was a bit quieter and my first impression hadn’t been tarnished by departing the cable car into yet another shopping area.
Catching a local bus instead provided me with the opportunity to see the wildness that still exists on Lantau island. I’m sure had the cable car been working and the mist not enveloping the island I would have got this view from the sky looking down, but it felt more authentic to see it from a local bus.
I have to be honest here, I was disappointed upon reaching Ngong Ping and its touristy shopping area which had some how managed to turn Buddhism into a theme park attraction. Having visited smaller Chinese temples and just left Cambodia with its spiritual temples, I was not that impressed to see Buddhism becoming so touristy. This wasn’t just a popular temple that had become a tourist attraction, but created as a tourist attraction.
That said the Buddha was beautiful, and though the temple was quiet and void of worshippers it was beautiful too. Despite the weather I also walked the Wisdom path with its 38 wooden columns representing the heart sutra.
I needed somewhere quieter to escape so headed back to the metro station and caught the metro to Nan Lian Nunnery and garden. Despite its proximity to yet another shopping mall and busy roads, the garden was truly serene.
From here I headed on the metro to nearby Sik Sik Wong Tai Sin Temple, which is entirely Taoist. It was a stark contrast to the quiet of the nunnery and I was greeted by throngs of worshippers, clouds of incense and bus loads of Chinese tourists. If you believe in I-Ching or just fancy something a bit different, Taoists have a strong belief in fortune telling and there are a lot of fortune tellers surrounding the temple.
The final temple I visited was the Ten Thousand Buddha temple at Sha Tin. Amazing, but a bit garish with its golden Buddha in different poses lining the path to the top of the hill and the temple.
I finished my trip to Hong Kong with an overpriced trip up Sky 100 tower to see the view over the harbour. Expensive, but worth it for a final night experience, seeing the lights of the harbour from above.