My wife and I have travelled to Hong Kong several times, both for business and pleasure. We usually stay on the Kowloon side of the city. Over the years, we have made many friends in Hong Kong as well. We love everything this city has to offer, may it be eating street food, or walking down the busy Nathan Road or then shopping in one of the amazing malls they have or even hopping on a ferry and going over to Macau and spending time at some the most amazing hotels in the world.
The trip in March of 2015 was a little different. We decided to do some site seeing in Hong Kong. We had 3 days and wanted to make the most out of it. The concierge at our hotel recommended, we take the MTR (Subway Train) and go to Lantau Island. This is the same island, where the Hong Kong International Airport is located. The Lantau Island is the largest of all the Islands in and surrounding Hong Kong.
So, we took the MTR and got off at Tung Chung Station. From there, we took the Ngong Ping Cable Car. The cable car offers breath taking views of the island, ocean around it as well as the airport. The ride takes about 25 minutes and you reach the Po Lin Monastery. This monastery become popular when the Big Buddha was constructed in 1993. Its about 34 meters high and faces in the direction of Mainland China.
We reached the base of the Big Buddha. This is where the interesting part of this story begins. To reach the Big Buddha, you must climb stairs. There is no easier way to get up except for climbing the stairs. I don’t remember the exact number of steps, but they were closer to 300. I looked at my wife and asked her if we could just take a picture from the base and make our way back to Hong Kong. She wanted to climb up and visit the Big Buddha. So, we start climbing. In about 20 minutes, she was all the way, waving at me. I was huffing and puffing, trying to make my way up. I sat down after every few steps. I could see all the Chinese Pilgrims laughing at me, as they zoomed past me. It took me about an hour to get to the top. By the time, I reached the top, I was so exhausted, that I was in no mood for pictures. I sat in a quiet area and enjoyed the cool breeze. Once, I was able to catch my breath, I looked around and the Big Buddha was majestic. We took a lot of pictures.
We then started making our way back to the base, which was a lot easier, as we were going down the steps. When we reached mid-way, we say 10 – 15 locals running up the stairs to reach the Buddha. Of our curiosity, I asked one of the security guards as to why these people were running up the stairs (remember- I could barely make it up the steps). He told us there is a charity race to reach the top once a week. These people were part of the race. I did not have any further questions for the polite security guard, who gave us an equally polite smile. We made our way to the base and then back to the train station.
In the train, I told my wife, may be some day, I will run up to the Big Buddha as part of this charity race. What say?