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Lantau island and Po Lin monastery

December 26, 2011

When I travelled to Hong Kong 17 years ago, the only way to reach the Po Lin monastery on Hong Kong’s largest island – Lantau – was via a 1 hour boat ride,  followed by 1 hour on a bus. With the construction of the new airport just of Lantau in 1998 you can now simply take the MTR from downtown to Lantau in 20 minutes. A short walk from the MTR station is the Ngong Ping cable car. The 5.7 km cable car ride will take you in 25 min across the island to the Nong Ping plateau and Po Lin monastery. The ride is quite an experience and on a clear day the view is amazing! If you don’t have a problem with heights you can take the crystal cabin (it has a glass floor) – I opted for the standard version 🙂 .  The Po Lin monastery is quite touristy but very much worth a visit. It features the Tian Tan Buddha, at 112 feet the largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue.  The statue houses a sacred bone relic of the Gautama Buddha and is therefore a well known pilgrimage site. If you would like to escape the crowds you can do so by following the signs to the wisdom path. A 15 min walk will lead you to this outdoor monument of 38 tall timber columns, engraved with the heart sutra. The columns are arranged in a figure 8 symbolizing infinity. Several hiking paths start there also and the scenery is beautiful. You can easily forget that this is part of Hong Kong.

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