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Hong Kong: The Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, 360 Gondola and an Australian Interloper Called Shelby

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

A very large Buddha stature in Hong Kong
Tian Tan Buddha, Hong Kong

There are several ways to get to the mountain-top monument. Cars, taxis and buses are rare, but available. But the most fun way to visit the statue is by the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. This aerial funicular transports visitors from the Tung Chung line to Ngong Ping. The cable lines are 5.7 miles long and took 12 years to complete.

Ticket prices vary with two cabins, different time schedules and child and senior offers as well.weekdays 10-6. weekends 9:30-6. The company also offers season passes and other event tickets available.

Most importantly, you can book your cable car online. This is the most important bit of advice I can give for the whole of my trip to Asia. Book Ahead. I figured we could just rock up to the monument, look around and be back to the hotel in an hour. Well, we were in the line for the cable car for more than an hour, just to buy the tickets. After that, we joined a different queue to alight the car. This was the time I met Shelby.

Shelby was my daughter's newly invented overly-eager Australian alter-ego who regaled us of tales from the Outback far longer than the four hour adventure into the Po Lin Monastery complex. She knew a lot about spiders and snakes, but not too much about this giant Buddha.

The remote Po Lin Monastery, hidden away by lush mountains, became a popular attraction when the extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha) was erected in 1993.

Sitting 34 metres high and facing north, this majestic bronze Buddha is a huge tourist attraction and draws pilgrims from all over the world.

The eyes, lips, incline of the head and right hand, which is raised to deliver a blessing to all, combine to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Buddha. Climb the 268 steps for a closer look at this remarkable statue, and to enjoy the mountain and sea views surrounding it.

Opposite the statue, the Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. Home to many a devout monk, this monastery is rich with colourful manifestations of Buddhist iconography and its pleasant garden is alive with birdsong and flowery scents. You can also enjoy a meal at its popular vegetarian restaurant.

In the shadows of the statue, the small village of Ngong Ping benefits from the many visitors each day. Shops selling curios and souvenirs line the short winding streets, and 'by golly', as Shelby would say, there is even a Starbucks! That frappe on a very long and hot day were very welcome iced-cold calories.

Shelby from Melbourne. She's not cool with waiting in line. But she does like Foster's and shrimps on the barbi.

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