on September 5, 2006
I had visited Hong Kong many times before but each time something came up and my trip to the Tian Tan Buddha was cancelled. I’m sure there is some kind of parable in that experience but just as I am a bad vegetarian, I am also a bad Buddhist.The bus (No 2) trip to the top has a few scenic points along the way with views of the ocean and not so scenic points of the sewage plant and a prison. The location of the prison was a bit cruel – on the hill next to the ocean with Hong Kong in the distance so that sitting in your cell looking at beauty and freedom would be hell. I stepped off the bus and wondered if I should ask someone where the Big Buddha was. Luckily I looked to the right before asking. Damn, that’s a big Buddha. Twenty six meters (85 feet) high on top of a three story building at the top of the peak the Buddha is unmissable (and the world’s largest sitting Buddha). I stopped and admired the style of his pose. His curly hair signifies wisdom and long ear lobes happiness. The right hand with the palm forward is to indicate the end of human suffering and the left hand in his lap facing upwards is to show that all humans deserve happiness. Up the stairs, fourteen at a time with a rest in between only when required. The view from the top is quite beautiful and I only wished that the location wasn’t so ‘touristy’ as I felt I should have stopped for a quiet moment of contemplation. No luck with kids from about sixteen different cultures running around. Now I’m sure there’s another parable there…If you choose to pay admission, you can go inside the statue to view the wood prints, a huge engraved bell and the relic of Sakyamuni (otherwise known as Buddha) which is said to be a piece of his cremated remains.The relic is the size of grain of rice and is so protected that you can’t even see it. You can only ‘view’ the relic through an enlarged photo. I couldn’t help laughing (great big Buddha, little piece of Buddha).The highest balcony offers the best views and brings you above the noise of the crowds. I couldn’t quite manage contemplation but I did get about seven seconds of reflection. After walking down the stairs to the Po Lin monastery I visited the tea garden and what felt like a hundred temples each with its own statue of Buddha. I encourage you to explore because just when I thought I had gone to the edge of the monastery I found another chapel and another Buddha. I couldn’t find the "Wisdom Path" (the last lesson I’m sure I missed) which leads to a very large Heart Sutra wooden inscription to symbolize infinity. But I wasn’t too heart broken as I know I will return again.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009