I have now been onboard for the world cruise for six weeks and have been to eight countries and three continents! It seems like I have been away for much longer as I have seen so much in a short period of time.
We were in Hong Kong for two days, which is much longer than most ports we stop in, so I made the most of it by going on tours, so I packed in as much as I could. Hong Kong can be over whelming if you are not sure what you want to see, I knew I had to see the Big Buddha and see the city sites.
I have been to Hong Kong many times before but only seen the shops, markets and restaurants! This time I needed to see the sights!
On the first day, I went to Lantau Island to see Po Lin Monastery. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Po Lin Monastery to see the Big Buddha, so it is a lot of time travelling, but it is worth it when you get there.
The Big Buddha (real name Tian Tan Buddha) is 34 meters tall to give you an idea of how big it is and it is made of bronze and weighs over 250 metric tonnes and it is made of 202 bronze pieces. It is one of the five largest Buddha statues in China.
To get close to the Buddha you need to walk up 268 steps, but we were lucky and we didn’t have to as our coach took us up!
The Big Buddha symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. The Big Buddha’s hands have a meaning; the right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction and the left-hand rests open on his lap in a gesture of generosity.
The Big Buddha faces north and this is unique as most of the great Buddha statues face south. Surrounding the Buddha are six smaller bronze statues called the ‘Six Devas’ they each have a different pose offering flowers, incense, a lamp, ointment, fruit and music to the Buddha. Our guide told us that it brings good fortune to walk around the Buddha in a clockwise direction, so I did!
When we walked towards the monastery there were twelve statues of Generals representing the Chinese zodiac signs. The monastery was beautiful in the style of typical Asian architecture with the tiled roof with curving corners and the bright colours. Inside was the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddha’s which were golden Buddha’s and porcelain Buddha’s, breath-taking to see.
We had lunch in the grand dining room at the monastery which was a vegetarian lunch as Buddhist’s do not eat meat. The meal was delicious we had; sweetcorn, mushroom & tofu soup, fried tofu, vegetables, broccoli and sweetcorn, vegetable spring rolls, tofu and peppers, rice and sweet buns (like a doughnut). It is amazing the type of vegetarian dishes you can prepare, it gave me food for thought, excuse the pun!
There were water buffalos walking freely around the monastery. They walk right up to you as they just want to be fed! Beside the Po Lin Monastery is the Ngong Ping cultural themed village that has food outlets (including Starbucks!) gift shops and free Wi-Fi to post your photos of the Big Buddha!
On the way to Po Lin Monastery, we stopped at Tai O a traditional fishing village. The houses were on stilts in the water and this was how life was like a century ago, now only the old and children live here as there is no work or as a temporary living. It takes 5.2 years to get a government home closer to the city. Living in Hong Kong is very expensive and the average apartment costs over a million dollars or as our guide said over one minion! Loved her accent! So, a lot of people cannot afford to buy or rent so they wait to be given government housing and then they pay a very low monthly rent.
Back to the fishing village! They were selling all types of dried fish, our guide said you cannot smell fish, you could! The smell was like a pet shop smell! As I’m writing this I can smell it now! Also, they were selling Chinese-style doughnuts, local food, fruit and vegetables and chopsticks.
There was a very old temple in the village the ‘Kwan Tai Temple’ originally built in the reign of Hong Zhi of the Ming Dynasty between 1488 – 1505. The temple honours the God of War and Righteousness.
We also stopped at Cheung Sha Beach which was a white sandy beach, beautiful and unspoilt. The funny thing there was the signs, it said no fishing, but everyone on the beach was fishing!
Our guide was quite a character, she spoke in the third person ‘Mai said’ and her broken English and pronunciation were great! You wan a quiz? The official languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese and English.
That evening I went for dinner with my husband and we ate in a French restaurant! Hong Kong has every kind of restaurant so you can eat whatever your taste buds desire. We stayed very close to the ship and went into the cruise terminal, but the Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong is very different to most cruise ship terminals. It is a shopper paradise and food haven. From Gucci to Prada to Marks and Spencer’s! Then you can walk out onto Nathan Road (3 miles long) that has more 2000 shops they call it ‘Golden Miles’. There they have all the designer shops, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Cartier, etc.
We went to Epure which was a rooftop restaurant overlooking the harbour the food was excellent, I recommend it. I had the Foie Gras, Lobster Spaghetti and chocolate and vanilla ice cream and we had wine flight with the meal and finished with green tea.
Every evening at 8.00pm there is a light show ‘The Symphony of Lights’ in the harbour. The skyscrapers light up and laser beams come out of the buildings, it’s a spectacular show.
On the second day, I went on a city tour. First, we drove through the city up to Victoria Peak located 1805 feet above sea level to view the panoramic views of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon Peninsula. Hong Kong has the second largest number of skyscrapers in the world, so it was quite a view and of course, there was a shopping mall up there! They love their shops in Hong Kong!
After getting our photos of the view we took the tram back down to continue the tour. The tramway has been running for 129 years, the trams have just changed design over the years. The ride was very quick, just 5 minutes, but it was steep and it felt strange, going downhill backwards in virtually an 180* angle!
We then drove to Aberdeen village to go for a ride on a sampan junk boat. This was where the water people lived aboard their junk boats called sampans (flat-bottomed boats). Now there are not many, years ago, there were lots of people living there.
We toured the inner harbour on a sampan and saw the floating restaurants and the high rising building around the harbour. The boat was literally made of junk!
Then it was time to see Stanley Market, the oldest market in Hong Kong. It is partly indoors and outdoors. It is full of Chinese style souvenirs, tacky gifts, clothes, artwork, electronics, jewellery, watches, toys and food outlets. The market is in Stanley Bay and outside of the market is a beautiful waterfront.
Hong Kong translates to ‘fragrant harbour’ it is an amazing city to visit. I can’t wait to come back and explore more.
Love Lucy xx