There is more to Hong Kong than skyscrapers and fast pace. We got to know the countryside and the side of the city that's a bit quieter than the rest of Central.
Day 3 and the walking wasn’t backing down! We headed to Lantau Island where the Tian Tan Buddha is. It’s the big bronze (was it??) Buddha bronze statue you see in postcards. Lantau is the biggest outlying island in Hong Kong and has the country feel on it – save for the humongous number of tourists though! We took the train to Tung Chung station and rode the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to the island itself. It lands you to Ngong Ping Village where you can walk to the Tian Tan and Po Lin Monastery (thousand Buddhas!)
Took us an hour or so to get to the island – including the time to queue for the cable car. Ngong Ping offers Standard Cabins and Crystal Cabins for HK$ 150 (US$ 20) and HK$235 (US$ 30) respectively. I am so glad we didn’t take the crystal cabin no matter how tempting it was. It will make you see how many hundreds of feet you’re high up. The Standard Cabin made me light in the head already and was thankful to see ground after. On the way back, I was a bit braver but still heights are not my strongest suit… so maybe no Crystal Cabin for me… ever!
There’s also a trail for hikers up to the Tian Tan Buddha. You may start by taking the ferry to Lantau from the pier at Central.
Throngs and throngs of tourists flock towards this part of Hong Kong as the Tian Tan Buddha is one of its most famous attractions. But there’s a laidback feel and you should feel comfortable enough to walk side by side them. Right beside the cable car station is Ngong Ping Village where there are a respectable lot of establishments to keep you from famishing yourself, or deprived of souvenirs.
One can easily spend a half day in Lantau, but there’s really nothing much to do there. Still, I really appreciated the calm break from the fast-paced city side. Very country mouse moment right there, folks! Now if you ask me, I believe that in every city there is a patch of quietness and it’ll just take you a little more strolling around… and a bit of research. Back in Wan Chai, we headed for the quiet yet really straightforward and downright artsy alley called the Star Street Precinct. The goal is: to pay homage to the Monocle store, and you know, get my monthly fix of read – which is cheaper by around PhP 200 elsewhere but Manila.
On our third day we were starting to feel the fatigue creep up, and we were in much need of a massage already. So off to Google to find the nearest to us. We found a small massage place which offers authentic Thai massage called Nirvana. It’s along the main drag in Wan Chai – Johnston Rd. – but may be a bit difficult to spot as it is in the nondescript Tung Fong building. The massage was a-ok, and the only masseur is a cute Thai guy *hihi*
A bit of a side story: we were strapped for cash because we didn’t anticipate our, errr… lack of resistance to purchase things. All’s good though since we brought our ATM cards but, boom! BPI requires you to call before to activate your ATM for international use. So if you plan, or even just for backup, save yourself from the hassles of roaming charges and call the bank (any, for that matter, just to be sure) before leaving. BPI was kind enough to expedite (usually takes a day, I guess) because we were really in dire need.
Oh well, what’s a trip without the misadventures? You only learn and become a better citizen of the world. And saves you the hassle on more important trips! Before that day ended, we rewarded ourself with fastfood (because, stress) and off to the Temple Street Night Market where we totally didn’t find anything interesting but saw the local life at night which was great – makeshift karaoke booths in the streets, hawkers, that escalated quickly porn DVDs and lots of sex toys.
I wish I brought mandals… there you go, another lesson!