Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong


Day 11

Today was the day Michelle and I planned to do our own separate things. Michelle needed a day to her self to just relax, sleep in and not worry about doing sight seeing or anything like that. So while she stayed at the hotel I planned on heading out to Lantau Island!
Lantau Island is home to the Big Buddha and is nearby to a bunch of other islands, but the Big Buddha is the main attraction.

We headed down to breakfast together and got a fairly nice surprise. Instead of getting directed to a couch and table like normal, we were directed another way behind the bar and pointed in the direction of heaven… or at least a heaven themed function room! It was all white and silver, with fancy chairs, the table was like a big patterned mirror, there was a framed tv and a ceiling that looked like liquid light!

We got pretty excited and didn’t even know they had themes function rooms! We had to take a look around only to find another 2 rooms.
Right across the hall was hell, which was pretty dark, everything was black and red and there was blood spatters underneath the floor tiles in the entrance.

Just down the hall was the last themed room - Eden. This was Michelle’s favourite. Everything was green and white with “lovely” couches and a swinging chair, the carpet looked like grass and there was a table and chairs surrounded by vines of flowers hanging from the ceiling. Apparently some of the staff go in there when its quite to take a break and relax.

After breakfast I did a bit of research to see how to get to Lantau Island. It was actually quite simple just by looking at the map of the MTR lines. Google told me I needed to get off at Tung Chung station on Lantau Island, which was at the end of the Tung Chung line. Our hotel is pretty close to the MTR station which is on a different line (The Tsuen Wan line), so I headed there and hopped on a train to Lai King station, where I could change trains to get on the Tung Chung line, which would take me all the way to Lantau Island - just 2 trains, I take more to get to work everyday!

When I got off at Lantau Island, it was like I arrived in Melbourne Central. There were shops everywhere and quite a few people. From there I followed the signs to the cable cars. The Big Buddha seems like its on a smaller island off Lantau Island because we cross a bit of water, but its not. From the ground it looked like the cable cars went quite far! (Look into the distance on top of the mountains on the left side of the photo below)

The queue seemed reasonable, until it turned a corner and it was alot bigger than I thought it was. After a little while the ticket counter was in sight where I learned that for a little bit extra I could ride in a crystal cabin - which is just like a normal cable car cabin, except with a glass floor! The return ticket was only $169 HKD (just over $20 AUD), so I couldn’t say no to that. Once I got my ticket I followed the signs only to face yet another queue! This time there were 2 queues, one for the standard cabin and one for the crystal cabin. Unfortunately the crystal cabin queue took a bit longer. This line was probably the longest so far.

Finally got into a “crystal cabin” and was on my way to the Big Buddha (aka “Tian Tan Buddha”). The Big Buddha is still located on Lantau Island, but it is surrounded with a lot of park lands. The cable car basically cuts straight over these forests and with the glass floor gives a really nice view!

While I was riding over to the Big Buddha, we went past alot of natural forests with a fairly small, winding foot path following the cable car lines. I also met a couple from Vancouver (sort of pictured above) in the cabin and after some friendly chatting they offered to take a photo of me with the Buddha in the background :)

After the cable car turned a couple of times, we eventually landed at our destination. There was alot of people, shops and (at least what looked like) temples. After walking past all the little gift shops, food stalls and more traditional looking features like the wishing tree, I got to a large open area with lots of statues and arch ways before noticing the steps that lead to the Big Buddha! Wikipedia tells me I climbed 268 steps to reach the top - it was quite tiring :)

At the top you can walk around and through this giant marvel, but sadly the inside is not quite as nice as it has more gift shops in there :( The Buddha is so big that you can pretty much see it from any part of this area, it just towers over everything! After some photos I headed back down the steps to check out the rest of the area.

At the bottom there is a number of temples, shrines and gardens. There are also alot of statues and pits for people to place there incense candles and pray. It is actually a pretty pleasant place to walk through :)

Every so often some sort of ceremony would be performed and just like the Muslim temples in KL, the sound of the prayers could be heard from almost anywhere in the area. There were alot of people burning incense and praying everywhere I looked and not just in the temples.

As the place was so scenic, I couldn’t resist pulling out the macro lens and trying to capture just how nice the environment was.

After spending some more time looking around and taking photos, I got some snacks and headed back to the cable car station. I saw the huge line and got a little disappointed, but this time it seemed like the crystal cabin line went alot quicker than the standard cabin line and I basically skipped the whole queue :)

On the ride back I met a very nice family in the cabin. No one was speaking English, but a there were a couple of times it didn’t really sound like Chinese, and I was quite proud to be able to determine that the language I was hearing was actually Japanese - normally I’m not very good at picking this sort of thing.

They were a group of 4: 1 man, 2 women and 1 older lady. One of the women and the man were a couple and were really nice, he was Japanese, she was Chinese and they lived in Japan. They were here with his grandmother (the older lady) visiting Hong Kong to see her sister (the other woman). We got along pretty well and were comparing Melbourne to where they are from in Japan and contrasting that with Hong Kong. When we landed back at the cable car station, we said farewell and I started to head towards the MTR station.

On the way there was a water feature and all these kids were laughing and playing in the jets. It was pretty funny, one of the kids was kinda of walking through the water making all the other kids laugh and he had a bit of an audience, so I stopped to have a snack and watch his antics.

I got back to the MTR station and went back the way I came. As I was changing trains at the interchange station at Lai King I happened to bump in to the family I had met on the cable car and continued our conversation only to find out they are staying in Tsim Sha Tsui aswell. When we got to our familiar TST station I asked a stranger to take a photo of all of us, and they got one with their camera too.
As a parting gift, the lady (pictured on the right, who is married to the Japanese guy) gave me a snack that they had bought and absolutely loved!

I got home and told Michelle about my adventure and opened the snack I got from the group on the train. From what I could tell it had (at least) flavours of coconut and peanut and was really sweet and soft. They were really good :)

Especially after that delicious snack, we decided to go get some dinner on (or around) Nathan road and then head back to get ready to go out because tonight she Michelle had planned to meet David Wong (the photographer from yesterday) for a photo shoot.
Originally he was going to come over to our hotel room, but because he just returned from a China and was really tired, he asked us to go to his studio/shop in central. As he was just some random stranger asking to take photos of Michelle at his place, Michelle felt a bit safer if I came along as well. Michelle packed a bunch of clothes and we caught a cab to Central.

When we got there we could tell he was quite tired, but he still wanted to go ahead with everything, so we had a bit of a chat about what they were going to do and I he showed me a couple of photography specific things before he set up and started shooting. Michelle looked like she was having fun. David’s wife runs the fashion shop side of the business and so Michelle had a pretty big variety of outfits to choose from.

As the shoot was going on, David felt that while I was watching the photos wouldn’t be as natural, so I sat around the corner and waited a while, then it was smoko time and I went outside with Michelle. She told me that David still felt like it would be better if I wasn’t there, and that it would probably take quite a while, so to save me from getting bored and to make David feel more comfortable it would be better for me to leave them there for a while.

Michelle said she now felt comfortable staying there alone, but she didn’t want me to go back to the hotel, so we came to the agreement that I would wait a while and if I couldn’t keep myself amused for the whole time I would give them a call to check up and then go back to the hotel.

I headed off and took a walk through Soho where there was lots of people partying and getting rowdy, which I didn’t really want to get involved with, so I ended up at a “Pacific Coffee” shop which had a couple of computers with free internet access for customers. So I bought a hot chocolate and continued on with my blogs.

This is where I met the notorious “Facebook Roadblock”. Because I was using a public computer, Facebook detected suspicious behaviour and blocked my account. To unblock it I had to follow quite a lengthy process of identifying myself and proving that I know who my friends are by looking at some sample photos from my albums.

After a few hours since leaving Michelle at David’s, I was tired and decided it was time to go home. By this stage it was after midnight and I wasn’t sure if the MTR was still running, so as I walked over to the station to investigate I called Michelle to check how long she would be and she said she would probably be a while, so I headed home. The trains had stopped by this time, so then the hunt was on for a taxi and after walking around for a while I found one and got home. After a little bit more blogging I went to bed.