Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
August 24, 2006
From journal Enticing Kowloon
February 9, 2006
At the first glance of a map, the New Territories may seem like the rural filler separating glamorous and exciting central Hong Kong from mainland China. Although for the most part these areas are residential areas where locals live their lives, there are some interesting things to see and do for the visitor who wants to experience another slice of Hong Kong.
The population of the New Territories has grown thanks to the planning of “New Towns” (yes, everything seems to be “new” in Hong Kong sometimes). One of them is Sha Tin, which has expanded to basically combine several old villages into a slightly less neon-fed version of central Hong Kong. Besides the shopping centers in Sha Tin (including an Ikea store) and the accompanying traffic, the former “sandy field” includes the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Sha Tin Racecourse, and the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery.
My visit to Sha Tin was centered on visiting the monastery, located a bit northwest of the Sha Tin KCR rail station. You will pass Pai Tau Village, a desperate attempt by locals to retain a small piece of the “old” Hong Kong that is rapidly disappearing thanks to continual expansion and modernization. These small buildings with quaint shops are dwarfed by the modern towers surrounding them, as well as the lush rolling hills of the landscape. You will also pass by the Po Fook Hill temple before stumbling upon the desired entrance path past a chain link fence with yellow signs pointing the way.
You will be hard-pressed to find a more colorful monastery complex than the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery. I did not count them, but it is said that there are around 12,800 large and small Buddha statues located on the grounds. The way leading to the monastery is lined on either side by life-size golden statues, each one with a distinct look. Most of the statues are reverently posed, but there are some bizarre and cartoonish ones with exaggerated expressions and features. Some have superhuman qualities, like an extra-long arm or stilt legs, while one figure is Bosch-like with little arms growing out of its eye sockets.
Once you get to the main monastery level, there are several buildings, including a bright-red pagoda with nine levels and, of course, a Buddha seated within each of the arched openings. Climb up the stairs inside the pagoda and peer over the statue shoulders to see the landscapes that the Buddhas are gazing at. On the grounds is the embalmed corpse of the founding monk, covered in gold leaf and creepily situated behind glass. Sometimes the place feels more like a theme park rather than the austere monastery you may have been expecting, but kids will probably enjoy the quirky and colorful features here as much as you do.
From journal Bill in China - HONG KONG (Outlying Areas)