Well, we got up early and went downstairs to meet the guide for our 1/2 day tour of Hong Kong - no one came! This was booked a couple of days ago whilst we were in Shanghai but after the concierge rang the Hong Kong tour operator for us, they said we were supposed to meet at another hotel? I checked all the documentation but nothing suggests that at all so I reckon they just forgot! Anyway, after rearranging the tour for tomorrow morning and a bit of chill time in the room, we decided to go on an afternoon tour to Langtau Island. We're being picked up at 1.30pm.
Langtau Island -
Basically, it's an island mountain range in the sea!
It's twice the size of Hong Kong island and it's highest peak is 934m, twice the height of Victoria Peak.
We got there, from Hong Kong island, via a 25 minute ride in a really high gondola called the Ngong Ping 360. The ride was over both sea and land and within the first few hundred yards we were about 150 ft up looking down on about 40 fisherman in bamboo hats wading out in the low tide collecting what I'm guessing must have been cockles and/or shrimps, maybe even scallops. With being so high we could see the disturbed sand where they had been walking through the water, like winding roads out from the shore line that traced the steps of each individual and ended in a sand cloud about 10ft in diameter with the fisherman stood right in the middle of it.
As we approached the island, we could see some steps leading up to the start of a thin road. As we continued we could see the road meandered through the green trees making it's way up the mountain. The road leads to a Buddhist monastery called Po Lin Monastery.
The ride in the gondola was really enjoyable, (especially fun when I got up to take photos and it made the cabin shake a little - which made the lady from Brisbane who was in with us even more nervous and chatty...snigger, snigger)
The Po Lin Monastery -
Once at the top, we met a new guide called 'Queende' (and she really was a Queeny to) who took us up to the monastery.
There are some steps leading to the top of the mountain and at it's summit, looking down on the monastery sits an 85-foot high bronze Tian Tan Buddha ("Giant Buddha") statue that until recently was the world's largest seated bronze Buddha statue.
You can go inside the round pedestal that the Buddha sits on, there are 3 floors. On the bottom floor the walls are covered in tiles about 1 inch wide and 4 inches deep and they all have names on. Some are double size and also have photos of people on them. It turns out that each small tile is put up in recognition of a donation of at least HK$50,000. Apparently, some will have donated much more. I'm telling ya, there were thousands of these tiles covering all of the walls, no wonder they decided to make the giant buddha statue out of bronze.
On the top floor there is a donated 'relic' from India that was collected by a team of 70 people. It's a small gold bowl with some ash in! (I don't know why it took 70 of em, it didn't look heavy to me....)
After walking round the Giant Buddha we walked down to the monastery and looked around the temple. It was, as expected, very similar to the others we've seen but quite a bit smaller. There are only 25 monks that live at the monastery, however, 'Queeny' told me that they are all ex accountants and lawyers - the amount of money that I think this place must have coming in via donations every year, I can't say I'm surprised.
The Tai O Fishing Village.
After the monastry we went to Tai O, a fishing town on the northwest side of Lantau Island which is more than three hundred years old. The fisher people there live in really shabby looking stilt houses but inside them many now have flat screen tv's and aircon!
They could live on land if they wanted to but they choose not to, although as the younger generations become more adventurous and ambitious, many choose to leave the village after leaving school looking for different opportunities on land. Queeny told me that some send there children back to the village to be brought up by their grandparents.
The first things we saw in the fish market was dried shrimp. Queeny ate some to prove it was ok to eat - I tried some too - it was ok, tasted a bit stronger than prawns normally do but the main thing I noticed was how chewy it was. I didn't buy any! Walking around the market we saw loads of weird fish, both dried and wet, for sale.
One of the strangest things you can buy there (in my opinion) was dried fish swim bladders? The stalls had hundreds of them hung up. They came and different sizes and with different prices, some were well expensive. Whilst there I stopped in a tiny eating house to eat grilled oysters with cheese (yumsters) and then as we were leaving I picked up a skewer of scallops cooked on an open griddle - (more yumsters - apart from the little bit of sand and shell I found in my snack).
After the fish market we were driven to the ferry to make our way back to Hong Kong Island. On the way we saw cows wandering around. Some were on the pavement or even crossing the road. Apparently, wild cows here are free to roam as they wish! Mad as mad, they wouldn't last a week like this in the UK I'm sure, people would pinch them and fill their freezers I reckon!
The ferry was a pretty fast affair followed by a connecting trip on the Hong Kong to Kowloon ferry to get us back to within walking distance to our hotel.
On the way back we went via the Temple Street Market where Karron picked up a new bag to take on the plane as hand luggage because we've run outbox room because of the presents we've bought!
We were walking in the market till really late so tea ended up being a street style bratwurst sausage and a bubble waffle - jublee.