Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Path to Enlightenment . . . or not

Largest Outdoor Buddha

We took a ferry to nearby Lantau Island to see the the
largest outdoor buddha in the world, cast in bronze
and over 40 meters high. We had a dry day for the
first time in ages so we set out, enjoying a clear
view of the island and downtown from the ferry.

Upon docking we transferred to a bus that passed the pretty
shores facing Hong Kong's downtown then gradually
wound it's way up into the mountains, where the buddha
sits with a bird'seye view of the area. Yet the
higher we went, the less we saw. You could say that
we followed the path to enlightenment, but did not
really find it. When we got off the bus, to our
disappointment, we were shrouded in a thick fog. We
had no clue where the buddha was, though it loomed
impressively above us. The fog cleared briefly, and
we could actually see the whole buddha for a time, but
if we'd looked away we could have easily missed it.
Can't say we exactly saw the light.

Buddha in the Mist

Below the buddha, we followed the path of wisdom, but
not being able to read Chinese, we missed most of the
wisdom imparted there! Oh well.

Path to Wisdom

As we hiked up the path, we had a nice 20 second view,
just long enough to convince us to return on a clear day,
but then the fog rolled back in again. Next to the path of wisdom
is a hike up to Lantau Peak, which on a nicer day
would be fun to do, but didn't make a lot of sense
that day, especially as there was still the Po Lin
Buddhist Monastery to explore.

Monastery Entrance

The Monastery is a complex of attractive temples and buildings built in
1921. Incense burned both inside and outside the
temples as at any temple. In Hong Kong, when I detect
the smell of incense I've learned to look around for
the temple that is sure to be close by. The incense
helped us to use our noses to locate the temple in the

Inside the Temple

The grounds and buildings offered a pleasant
enclave and we enjoyed some tea and dim sum snacks
included in the price for the museum. As we rested in
the grounds I had to laugh when I saw a monk talking
on a cell phone and then spotted another reviewing his
digital photographs. I guess in Hong Kong those are
considered bare necessities.

Monk in the Monastery Grounds

It was still fun to go visit the giant buddha and
monastery, though we'll have to return on a day when
we can see it from afar and appreciate the gorgeous
view we hear is visible up there. There is more great
hiking on the island besides Lantau Peak, as well as a
cave, a temple and another monastery nearby to lure us
back, plus the ferry ride is a pleasant outing.

Brief Clearing