Some people consider Macau as Asia’s bootleg Las Vegas with its multitude of casinos and its dizzying nightlife. But, in fact, it deserves much more credit. When I first set foot (for a 4-hour visit) back in February 2009, I was immediately intrigued by its contrasts – the juxtaposition of its colonial architecture with its seizure-inducing neon lights. The Catholic influences are evident, but so is the atmosphere of worldliness. How can devotion and debauchery co-exist in one tiny territory? I was hooked.
Those sentiments were revived after my second visit yesterday. As for Marga, it was an overwhelming case of first-timer’s wanderlust.
Pardon me, but I’d rather not elaborate on yesterday’s Shenzhen snafu. Let’s just say that obtaining a Mainland visa on the same day turned out to be not as easy breezy as portrayed in most travel blogs (Language barrier = 50, Us =0). I’ll stop there. At the minimum, we did get a glimpse of the Mainland and, in the process, witness the hustle and bustle of the SAR’s northernmost tip.
Our luck shifted to a more favorable direction later on (Sorry, Murphy’s Law. We refuse to cave in). Amidst our exasperation, Marga decided to take us to Ngong Ping in Lantau,which we originally intended to do the day before. See, that’s the beauty of this place’s commute system. You get to travel its opposite ends in less than two hours. Lantau, by the way, is the island that occupies HK’s southwestern tip. It also houses Hong Kong Disneyland and Hong Kong International Airport.
Despite our less-than-congenial Indian co-passengers, coupled with the gondola’s occasional, violent swaying, the 25-minute cable carride was extremely breathtaking. It really was the more viable transportation mode, compared to the other option: a two-hour bus ride along a zig-zaggy route. As it was, we already lost enough precious hours.
Soon enough, I got to see why Marga considers this her favorite spot in HK. Upon reaching Ngong Ping Village, we wasted no time in making our way to the peak’s most renowned structure, the colossal Tian Tian Buddha. Completed in 1993, this 34-foot behemoth towers over the vicinity, as if watching over the island’s inhabitants. Ascending the 268 steps was more manageable than expected, thanks in part to the cool weather. Up close, the enormity of the statue was overwhelming, but at the same time, soothing.
To cap off our visit, we strolled to the adjacent monastery for more sightseeing before catching the last cable car at 6:30pm.
It wasn’t a smooth ride, thanks to the strong January winds. Thankfully, the majestic view of Tung Chung provided enough comfort.
A blanket of fog enveloping the tip of Lantau Peak, as the view of the Tian Tian Buddha beckons
A rather cold reception from one of the vicinity’s many statues
Marga doing her signature pose in front of the entryway
The 268 steps leading to the gigantic Buddha
32 meters of serenity: The Tian Tian Buddha up close
Everyone gets a worm’s eye view by default.
2 out of 6 statues that comprise “The Offering of the Six Devas”, a representation of devotees presenting offerings to the Tian Tian Buddah
The Po Lin Monastery may look diminutive from here…
I never had the chance to try out Tim Ho Wan, the Dim Sum Specialists when it landed on Philippine shores last year. The queues scared me. But, I’m glad I finally managed to do so today – in its place of origin, no less!
This is my second visit in a span of six months, fourth in total. This time, I’m here to accompany my friend and fellow Southern B Marga. We are loving the weather. It’s the ideal balance between chilly and balmy that we’ve come to associate with this region during this time of year.