Sunday, May 01, 2011

Seeing the Tian Tan Buddha

On Saturday I went to see the Tian Tan (or Big) Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island in Hong Kong.

I’m so glad I went. To get to the Big Buddha you can take a bus or a cable car. I took a bus roundtrip – not sure yet about getting in a cable car.

About midway through the bus ride I turned to my right and saw the Big Buddha. We were still a ways away, but the statue (not sure if I should call it a statue or structure – it is so big) was easy to see.

I won’t pretend to do a travelogue about it. You can read more about the site here and here.

Actually, I wish I had read more before I went to visit. For instance, I didn’t know about the Heart Sutra on the Wisdom Path – so I stopped before I got there. I want to go back to see that. I’m thankful that I’ll probably have another chance to visit before I leave Hong Kong.

This is the largest Buddha statue in the world. I walked up the more than 200 steps to see it and also go inside the structure beneath the statue. Inside there is a relic from Gautama Buddha’s remains and historic artwork and inscriptions as well as information and history about Buddha and the statue.

I took many photos outside. Photos are prohibited inside the structure beneath the Buddha. It is very interested to be there and see the mix of tourists and Buddhists. Especially seeing people stop in front of various statues, kneeling, and lighting incense. I was continually reminded that this is a religious site and experience for many people and more than another tourist site.

Throughout the area there are signs reminding people that no alcoholic beverages or meat are allowed. So if you go and take a picnic, remember that.

There are two vegetarian restaurants there and a vegetarian snack bar. I really enjoyed the vegetarian lunch I had. The stir fry of vegetables and cashews was so brightly colored – the way fresh vegetables that haven’t been cooked to death are supposed to look. Asparagus, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms made for a wonderful lunch. There were also spring rolls, soup, more mushrooms, a green that I don’t know the name of, but was thankful for. I didn’t take pictures of the food because of the no pictures signs in so many places. I wasn’t sure if pictures were allowed there or not.

I almost didn’t go to the Big Buddha on Saturday. It was a little rainy and overcast and I thought it wouldn’t be a good viewing day. Then I decided that if I put off the trip until a good weather day, I might miss it altogether. When I got there it was fine – not rainy and only a little overcast. It would have been fine if it was raining also. I can’t control everything and I don’t want to miss life waiting on the perfect conditions.

The day didn’t go just as planned. And it was wonderful.

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