Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday in Hong Kong--and we've been LIED TO!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

By the weather man, that is!  We've been following the weather forecast for Hong Kong, and according to Accu-Weather (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one!) today was supposed to be fairly sunny and nice.  Based on that information, we planned a day trip to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. It was a little foggy when we left Hong Kong, but we thought the fog would lift as the day started.  Oh, the best laid plans...........

We did get an early start this morning--as we were both wide awake at 1:30 am!  That gave us plenty of time to plan our day, map out our routes and walk to the market to get our breakfast.  We left Hong Kong a little before 8 am,  taking the MTR for the long journey out to Lantou Island.  Several line changes and about an hour later, we pulled in to the last stop on the line-Tung Chung.  Strangely enough, the metro exited right into a big outlet mall!

We were a little early to buy our cable car tickets, so we found a Starbucks and relaxed for a few minutes.  Soon we found the ticket office, and waited in a small line to buy our tickets for the Ngong Ping Crystal Cable Car ride up to the top.

It was still a little foggy as we started up, but not too bad. Here we are all settled in for the ride:

It's about a 25 minute, 3 mile long trip to the Big Buddha and  Po Lin Monastery.  The scenery  is beautiful.  Here are a few shots along the way:

 This picture below was taken through the glass bottom of the gondola as we crossed a narrow straight:

David sitting on the floor!  Although the view was great from the glass bottom, I felt just a little queasy.  It's a loooong ways down!

There is actually a road back to the monastery and we could have taken a bus, but the cable car was a lot more fun!  There is also a hiking path all the way back through the forest--complete with many, many steep stairs to climb--no thanks!
Here's the hiking path:

Our first glimpse of the Big Buddha:

A little info on the Big Buddha:

It's a fairly new statue, completed in 1993.  It's 112 feet tall, and is one of the tallest seated Buddhas in the world.

After we "disembarked" our gondola, it was a short walk to the loooong staircase leading up to Buddha--268 steps to be exact:

 Here we are at the bottom of the steps:

The view from the top was nice, and would have been REALLY nice if the fog would have lifted:

Here I am at the highest level we could climb:

A couple of close up shots:

We walked through the small gallery/museum at the top.  There were several nice watercolor paintings and scrolls, but no English translations so we were a bit in the dark.  Of course, the exit from the gallery went through a gift shop!  I found a little something for you there, Jeanne!  Sure wish you two were here with us, you'd love this!

As we came out of the gallery and started back down the stops, we felt a few rain drops.  Then a few more, and soon it was just pouring!  So much for mostly sunny today!  Oh, well--that's what umbrellas are for!

Our small admission price (about 4 US dollars each) to the gallery also included lunch at the monastery.
We'd worked up an appetite after that climb, so we hiked back down those 268 steps in the pouring rain and walked to the monastery for lunch.  We each had a couple of dim sum and a plate of noodles with cabbage, a nice satisfying lunch.

Notice that they gave us forks--no chopsticks were offered!

Here's our view during lunch, the side courtyard of the Po Lin Monastery:

The front of Po Lin Monastery.  We weren't able to go inside, as it was undergoing renovations.

It was a quick walk back down to the tram station, we even stopped along the way in a couple of gift shops.  Hmmmmm-I wonder what we found for Matt?

Here's the view on the way back down--clouds and more clouds.  In other words--NO view!

Our plan for the rest of the afternoon was to head back into Hong Kong and visit the Chi Lin Nunnery. and the Nan Lian Gardens.  We'd then go to the Temple Street Night Market and have street food for dinner. We were hoping it wasn't raining in town, but no such luck. If anything, it was raining even harder!

Here's beautiful Chi Lin Nunnery in the pouring rain:

The grounds of the nunnery were filled with hundreds of bonsai and lotus ponds with fountains.  The nunnery was founded in 1934, and the building is styled after Tang Dynasty designs.  It is built entirely of bamboo and wood, and not a single iron nail is used.  We could hear soft chanting throughout the temple, which added a relaxing sound to the misty views.   The interior of the nunnery was very pretty, but  no pictures allowed--sorry.

The Nan Lian Gardens is right near the Nunnery, so we did a quick stroll through in the rain.  These  gardens are said to be the most beautiful spot in Hong Kong, and I can surely believe it.  It was stunning! Here's the one picture I took--it was raining too hard to get out the camera!

We found a small cafe on the edge of the gardens and sat for a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee and tea.  We were feeling pretty soggy by now!  We re-evaluated our plans for the evening, and agreed that the night market probably wouldn't be much fun in the pouring rain.  Instead we hopped back on the MTR and went to our hotel for a much needed rest.  We decided that we'd have a quick dinner in our neighborhood and call it a day.

After relaxing for a couple of hours we were ready for dinner.  We turned left again out of the hotel lobby, walked around our interesting neighborhood, looking at some menus along the way.  Last night we'd noticed one small place that was very busy--the line was clear out into the street.  We thought that was a good sign and it didn't look too busy tonight, so we asked to see a menu.  The nice lady brought us a menu with a few odd English translations, and we found several dishes that looked interesting.

We sat down at a small table on the sidewalk.  This is very casual dining--a tiny rickety table with low plastic stools for chairs!

We looked over the menu, carefully choosing 3 dishes to share.  We let the nice lady know we were ready to order--and then the fun began!  Between our complete lack of Chinese language skills and her fractured English, we ended up thoroughly confused.  Luckily, I'd overheard a couple of young men speaking English at a table near us, and I asked them for help.  They were great!  As it turns out, she was trying to explain to us that not everything on the menu was available.  The nice young man graciously acted as a translator, and we ordered steamed spring river spinach with garlic, braised chicken in a pot with a soy sauce glaze and two bowls of rice. And a big bottle of Chinese beer to share!

Spring River Spinach.  This wasn't my favorite, I think the greens themselves were good, but I didn't care for the sauce.  David liked it, though.

Our pot of chicken--this was delicious!  The flavor of the sauce was wonderful, the chicken was moist, tender and so flavorful.  It was a little hard to eat, though.  They did furnish regular silverware, so that was helpful.

We happily munched our way through that pot of chicken, spooning that amazing sauce over our rice.  It was so good!  Soon we reached the bottom of the  pot, and look what David pulled out:  

A chicken foot--complete with toenails!  OMG! No wonder that sauce was so flavorful!
We'd seen chicken feet on menus, evidently they are considered quite a treat.  I do admire the fact that nothing is wasted.

Here's David chewing on that chicken foot.  He said there wasn't much meat--just skin, tendons and cartilage.  Quite flavorful, he said.

Me?  No thanks--I wasn't going anywhere near those chicken toenails!

After that interesting surprise in our chicken pot, we both felt an immediate need for a little palate cleanser.  We walked a couple of doors down to a small grocery and each bought an ice cream bar for desert.  I found a Mango Drumstick--pretty delicious!

We strolled along back to our hotel, happily eating our ice cream bars and talking about or wet and wonderful day in Hong Kong.  We had a good laugh about that surprise chicken foot-- I'm sure this won't be the last dining surprise we have in China!

Tomorrow in Hong Kong:  We are praying to the weather gods for no rain!  Tentative plan is a visit to the old walled city of Kat Hing Wai and a bus ride to Stanley Market.  Stay tuned!


  1. Just the sight of those 268 steps makes me tired. Honestly, it's about 258 steps too many for me! I'll gladly live vicariously through you on this one... lol.

    The glass-bottomed gondola is pretty cool, though. There's some beautiful scenerey around there.

    I'm kind of surprised that dad tried the chicken foot.

    P.S. I figured out the posting problem, obviously. Blogspot and Safari don't appear to be playing well together.

  2. Thought I commented twice but don't see them? Chicken feet gross- i hope you don't find anymore surprises in your soup bowls! Gondola ride was way to go! Sorry for the weather- it is still fantastic scenery though

  3. Chicken toenails...... Yum! Sorry you are having so much rain but I guess you can pretend that it's Chinese atmosphere :) I love the picture of David on the floor of the gondola - it's kind of surreal. Even the picture made me dizzy. And what beautiful gardens outside the nunnery. I'm so jealous of your adventures, but I love your pictures......

    Moving on to your next post......

  4. OMG...I finally see the chicken foot. And it was hanging out of David's mouth! LOL...gardens very beautiful. 268 steps to see the Buddha...and you did it too! I wonder how I would survive on travels like this. You both get up so early and go go go. I don't think I could hang. But I admire both of you. Glass bottomed gondola was fun. I wonder if that would have made me a little dizzy....but what an adventure.