Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Give me fresh air and breathtaking Buddhas

The cable car to Po Lin (Precious Lotus) monastery envelops us in the natural quiet of the mountainous Lantao Island in Hong Kong. It’s almost, well, enlightening, to look down over the city rush and not be a part of it.

Up and down we go, over Tung Chung Bay, the mountains and the valleys. The South China Sea stretches out and out in the clear light of this day. 25 minutes later we arrive in Ngong Ping Village. The fresh air is intoxicating.

An 80-foot-tall bronze Buddha overlooks the village and the monastery here. ‘Big Buddha,’ as he is known, is sitting in the lotus position and holds his hand up as though waving or offering a blessing. It evokes awe for the sheer size of it.

The Chinese style village here is somewhat commercialised but it doesn’t have that empty feeling that often goes with commercialism. The tea house offers traditional Chinese teas and tea sets, the shops sell soulful trinkets and even the ‘Monkey’s Tale Theatre’ seems worth a visit – the souvenir toys are gorgeous.

For those who want to know more about the story of Buddha, there is also a multimedia show that takes visitors through his journey to enlightenment.

My colleagues and I decide to enjoy the outdoors scenery instead. We climb the thousands of chairs up to the world’s biggest sitting Buddha and indulge in the free ice-cream, our reward for making it to the top.

The small museum features Chinese calligraphy depicting the wisdom of Buddha, as well as some precious relics. However, what interest me most are the enchanting view and the colourful Chinese monastery below. It’s really pretty.

In fact, I would have to say that I have only felt wow, wow and wow from the moment I got into that cable car today. From the flower tea and the fortune sticks to the traditional architecture, the dim sum and the glorious natural scenery over which the Buddha towers.

I know that I am moving much too fast at the moment to experience true peace and contentment, but for this one day I truly feel it.

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