Big Big Buddha

I don’t usually love doing the run-of-the-mill, guidebook “musts” because I often find them overcrowded and overrated. I prefer more of an osmosis approach to traveling-absorbing the culture by walking the streets, meeting locals, and eating the most authentic food around. But sometimes you have to do the typical tourist stuff out of obligation. In Hong Kong, this meant a visit to Big Buddha. Kaela and I didn’t know much about this attraction, except that is was a giant Buddha statue up on a hill, but as it turns out thats pretty much all there was to it–Big Buddha sitting on a hill. Located on Lantau Island, it was a trek to get there. Since we couldn’t afford the $80 cable car, we took a 40 minute bus ride up a windy hill where hoards of people greeted us at the top. The streets were lined with tourist shops full of overpriced souvenirs with useless functions. We walked up a harsh staircase to get a close look at the anticlimactic statue. Maybe it would have been different if Buddha meant something to us, but to a Christian and a Jew it was just a cross-legged statue. As we went to catch the bus back, we saw the sign for the gondola ride down and realized it was $80 Hong Kong dollars, which is around the equivalent of only $10 US. One of many moments of complete retardation when it comes to calculating exchange rates (but to our defense, we are changing currency weekly). We eagerly boarded the “crystal” cable car, where plexiglass on every surface, including the floor, left us with a completely unobstructed view of the panoramic scene. Despite the haze that hugged Hong Kong like a layer of unshedable  skin, the view was spectacular. We drifted down to the city below, watching the skyscrapers grow taller and the ripples in the giant bay come into focus. All the while, Big Buddha sat watching us from his plateaued perch, fading slowly into the distance.


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