Lantau Island, Hong Kong was one of the surprises of The Grey Traveller‘s trip East, the highlight being Tai O village on the north west coast.
Being time short I took our hotel concierge’s advice and caught the train to Tung Chung Station from Kowloon. Not having the right notes for the automatic ticket dispenser, the helpful rail staff made sure I had the right tickets and I was super impressed with the spacious station and ease and efficiency of this local transport.
On arrival in Lantau I was met by a herd of ceramic elephants………yes you did read me right! ……and they were too cute not to stop and pose with!
Which one is your favourite? I wonder if they are still there?
I then hit touristville in a big way, I joined a very long queue to buy tickets and then an even longer queue to hop on the aerial ride to see the Big Buddha. To be honest I hate being herded but sometimes you have to go with the tourist flow if you want to see something. I bit my lip but to be fair it was worth the pain big time.
I bought a 360 Sky – Land – Sea Day Pass which did exactly what was written on the tin. The cable strings out from Tung Chung across the sea and then gradualy climbs up to Ngong Ping Village which is nearly in the clouds. It gave me a taste of 21st century from one side looking down on the International Airport, to times past where pathways were scratched out of the hillsides for walkers or should I say trekkers to the Buddha….I didn’t see anyone on that pathway this time and can only imagine the hours it would take with so many stops for rest and refreshment.
At the village I was a bit stunned by the Disneyesque ‘show’ of the story of Buddha but that aside I loved the views of and from this huge icon. There are stalls, shops and cafes to make more than an hour or two of this stop off. Some people had bought an ‘all in’ ticket to eat inside the Buddha………erm it surprised me too!
You can also catch a glimpse of the monastery in the clouds ( Po Lin ) and certainly the clouds dropped down on us a little in the short time I was there. If I had the time I would have liked to have seen more of it….the monastery not the cloud cover!
My ticket choice gave us a bus ride to Tai O where I was overwhelmed with the cultural change from Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Descendants of the Tanka people live in this stilted fishing village and must be overwhelmed themselves by the groups of strangers exclaiming at their way of life, staring at their piles of dried fish and quaint alleyways.
A boat trip took us around the harbour inlet where we looked up at the quirky homes and businesses of these people. The boat pilot then proudly took us out of the harbour so we could catch a glimpse of the pink dolphin. Flipper proved cheeky and clearly loved his audience but didn’t stay long enough above sea level for me to get a clear enough shot…but to see him was enough for our boat load.
I wandered around the village a little wide eyed looking at the mounds of dried fish on sale and the wacky three wheeler bikes which were the local transport.
The high light for me was sitting on a verandah of a cafe overlooking an inlet, drinking coffee from heart shaped cups.
A cliche I am not ashamed to blog about…I left my heart in Tai O village amongst those stilted homes and friendly, gentle people of another time.