on July 26, 2006
To reach Lantau Island from Kowloon and Hong Kong, there are a couple of options. The MTR Tung Chung line begins at the Central station in Hong Kong, making several stops in Kowloon and terminating at Ngong Ping on Lantau. Star Ferry to Hong Kong, Outlying Islands Ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau and bus 2 to Ngong Ping took 2 hours. Going by boat is worth the additional half-hour.The Giant Buddha/Tian Tan is the world’s tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. The lower floors, both inside and outside, are free. The other two require an additional fee, whose higher levels don’t provide any better view. Buddha resides atop a three-pedestal platform that is actually a three-story exhibition hall. Including the base the height of the Giant Buddha is 111 feet and weighs over 250 tons. It is a very imposing figure rising up from this island, and its grandeur isn't diminished by any nearby skyscrapers like those that you encounter on Hong Kong Island. You have no choice but to crane your neck to look straight up feeling dwarfed. Although it is open from dawn to dusk, it is a good idea to avoid the sun at its highest for photography reasons as well as the glare to your eyes.The Buddha isn’t very old; in fact, it was completed in 1993, 22 years in the making, following the construction of the large temple. On the other hand, the Po Lin Monastery dates back to 1924.Some of the features to take note of, an easy task considering the size, are the long ear lobes that indicate wisdom and happiness. The curled thick locks of hair are a sign of perfect wisdom. Long but plump fingers combine tenderness with strength. On his chest a swa sticker, for lack of a better term, represents endless virtues and compassion, a far cry from the symbol usually invokes.On the lower platform surrounding the statue are six divas. These bronze ladies are posed in half kneeling positions offering gifts to Buddha. Each of the following gifts offered has a special significance.Incense – precepts so actions will be aromaticFlowers – charityOintment – zealLamp – patienceFruits – meditation toward enlightenmentMusic – practice leads to wisdomNearby is Po Lin Monastery superbly located on the 520-meter high Ngong Ping Plateau surrounded by mountains with a skyline background. It is open from 9-6 and has a vegetarian restaurant on premise.
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