Hong Kong and the 10000 Buddha.

So today I decided to go up to the 10,000 Buddha temple in Northern Hong Kong, located in Sha Tin, it’s relatively new. I was up quite late in the day and decided to try a vegetarian buffet restaurant I had researched.

Ahimsa buffet is about a 5-10 minute walk from Fortress Hill subway.  For around £6.50 you can eat all you like from an amazing variety of vegetarian dishes. They were all so tasty especially the deep fried things!

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Once I had gorged on all this amazing food I took the subway from Fortress Hill all the way up to Sha Tin, and after getting a little lost in a huge mall I was heading in the right direction. Past a weird Snoopy theme park, it’s around 10 minutes to get to the base of the hill that the temple is located on, and started the walk up.

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Unfortunately my navigation skills failed me again and instead of climbing up to the temple, I realised I was wandering aimlessly around a cemetery. The views were amazing from up there and it was an interesting place to see, but I suddenly felt very exposed as a tourist in what is quite a sacred place. I descended back down as quickly as possible before eventually finding the correct path up to the temple.

Although it is called the 10,000 Buddha temple, there are apparently over 12,000 Buddha statues in total! It’s around 430 steps to get up to the temple, but the walk is amazing as you go past all these different gold Buddhas.

At the top of the hill, the temple complex spreads out before you, it’s okay but I definitely enjoyed the walk up/down more than the actual top. There was nothing there that made me go wow, or anything different from a myriad of other temples I’ve seen on my travels. I did however get a nice cold drink and sit looking out over Hong Kong for a while before leaving.

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I’m not sure the temple is worth the trek out unless you’re in HK for a good amount of time and looking for something different to do. I’m happy I tried it out and it probable would’ve been a better experience if I hadn’t got lost and spent so much time there. It was getting on in the afternoon and I had to get back down to causeway bay. I had heard about a dragon festival that was happening that night with a parade. So I took the subway all the way back, picked up some bubble tea and amazing cake on the way and after getting off at Tin Hau, I walked up to watch the Tai Hang fire dragon dance.

Originally the people of Tai Hang performed the dragon dance to ward off a spell of bad luck that they were experiencing, but as the village got swallowed up by the City, the dragon has kept on dancing. The streets were so crowded and it was hard to get a good viewing spot, but after about 30 minutes the dragon finally arrived! Covered in incense so the streets filled with a sweet smelling smoke and accompanied by a full musical extravaganza.

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As you can see it’s crowded but also it was a lot of fun, everyone around me were enjoying themselves and it was a great spectacle to witness. I love it when you just happen to be somewhere when a festival or event is happening. I really liked the festival that continued over in Victoria Park too, with lots of interesting light spectacles and food trucks.

This was a great way to end my trip to Hong Kong, it was somewhere I was really looking forward to but I left unsure as to whether I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. I walked along to Causeway bay and after a very indecisive 20 minutes of aimless wandering/looking for food I ended up eating whatever veggie options I could find in Mcdonalds. I finished my night watching Arsenal in the pub next door to my hotel and then packed up my stuff ready to hit up my next destination…..Taiwan!!

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Hong Kong and Tian Tan Buddha

Today I was off to check out one of the biggest tourist sights of Hong Kong, Tian Tan Buddha! To get there you take the subway out to Tung Chung, from here you can either hike or take the cable car. I chose to take the cable car and treat myself to the glass bottomed booth. On reflection I wish I had prepared and hiked to the Buddha and taken the cable car back. The walking route looked really cool, I’m not sure how long it would take but the scenery was amazing from the car as we flew over the bay and up into the mountains.

On arrival you wander through a touristy village area with shops and restaurants, before you pass under a lovely archway and past statues of the Chinese Animal signs for each year. This leads to a huge square with steps heading straight up to the huge bronze statue of Buddha. It was completed in 1993 and symbolises the close relationship between man and nature.

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It’s pretty impressive, there are quite a few steps to get up to the base of the Buddha, but there’s a small art gallery underneath with air con which I used to cool down. The Buddha is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues that represent the six perfections that are necessary for enlightenment.Not only is the Buddha amazing, but the 360 views you get of Lantau Island and out towards the airport.I had such a good time here and would definitely recommend it! I took the cable car back down after looking for souvenirs in the village, and took the subway back into the City.

My next stop took me to East Tsim Tsa Tsui stop, where Bruce Lee was only a short walk away! Usually found on the Avenue of stars, it was being renovated when I visited and all the famous statues and hand prints are now found at the nearby Garden of stars. There are also other famous statues and handprints from Chinese stars such as Jackie Chan and MIchelle Yeoh. This is a fun thing to do in the City and something I was really excited to see and get a selfie with Bruce!

From here I headed to Nathan Rd, this is one of the main shopping streets with smaller roads interconnecting more shops, restaurants and malls. So I wandered around here for a while, picking up some ubiquitous bubble waffles and bubble tea. I ordered chocolate waffles and matcha tea and both were super tasty. I wasn’t sure where to go next so I checked Google maps and noticed a cartoon avenue! Similar to the avenue of stars, this avenue is filled with famous Hong Kong comic stars with the iconic pig Mcdull being the most recognisable. This was definitely a fun little side adventure and it took me out of the heat of the City and into Kowloon park, it’s a green oasis amid the bustling, chaotic streets surrounding it. There are a couple of nice little ponds and fountains and the shade was beautiful and cool. It would definitely be great to grab some street food from one of the many vendors on Nathan Rd and retire to the park for a little picnic.

Next on my little tour was Chungking mansions, known as one of the cheapest places to live in Hong Kong it’s filled with a multiculturalism rarely seen. Although it’s mostly residential, you can find various restaurants from around the world here, lots of electronic and clothing stores and foreign exchange offices. I actually thought it was the more famous and instagrammable Montane Mansion and I wandered around for a while trying to find the iconic view of the apartments. I soon realised I was mistaken but I bought a couple of T shirts and the diversity of the shops was really interesting.

My next location is a must for anyone visiting Hong Kong, it’s cheap, easy to do and you get amazing views and a fun little boat ride, it is of course the star ferry! The area around Tsim Sha Tsui pier is nice to have a little wander, with the old railway clock tower and nice views of Hong Kong Island. The actual ferry costs HK$2.70 for a top deck seat which is definitely worth the little ride. I did think I would be on one of the red sailed junk boats at first so don’t be disappointed! It also helped that the ferry would take me back over to the Central ferry pier and HK island.

I enjoyed sailing across Kowloon bay and it was great to get shots of both sides of Hong Kong, it’s such a huge City, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many skyscrapers clustered together. I arrived back on the island and relaxed back on the pier for a little while thinking about what to do next and enjoying the cool sea breeze.

After a pretty full day I decided to take a nap and then get ready to go out in the evening, I wasn’t sure where to head and then remembered the Temple Street night market up on the mainland was meant to be a cool place. So I got ready and took the subway to Jordan, which is just a short walk from the markets. It feels like a different place on the mainland, busier, more neon lights and signs everywhere and maybe a bit more of how I imagine the rest of China would be in the Cities.

The markets were good, with loads and loads and loooaaddss of souvenirs, clothes, and electronics etc, there are also plenty of restaurants surrounding it to have dinner. I struggled finding anywhere that did anything vegetarian however, so I decided to go back to the island and try some of the gay bars out. I started off at T:ME bar which was a nice little place and had a cool vibe. I asked someone there where else they’d recommend and found myself in FLM, this place reminded me a bit more of somewhere I’d find back home in Manchester. So I googled and found a place over by Lan Kwai Fong, Petticoat Lane is a pretty cool venue and space, I liked the outside terrace area and after enjoying a couple of (pricey) beers I went back over to Causeway Bay and got some yummy veg dim sum and hit the sack.

Hong Kong and Victoria Peak.

After leaving Hanoi it was a short flight to Hong Kong, it’s so easy to get into the centre using the airport Xpress. I wasn’t feeling too great but I had booked a night at the Metropark at causeway bay earlier in the year so I was excited to have some more luxury.

I checked in and immediately took in the stunning views over Hong Kong Island at Victoria bay. I loved it and the rooftop pool was incredible! I decided I would go up Victoria peak for the sunset and off I went, stuffed full of anti-flu meds, I took the Subway.

It’s so easy to take the underground, you can get a 24hr pass or pay stop to stop. I went to central and then started the ascent to the tram that would hopefully take me up to the peak. Unfortunately I got a bit lost, my map apps wouldn’t work in between the big buildings, I felt like crap and it was so humid I couldn’t stop sweating.

So by the time I eventually found the tram, and realising I had walked halfway up the peak before walking back down, the queue was huge and I knew I wouldn’t make it for sunset. I was annoyed because it was a clear day and I had read they can be few and far between in Hong Kong.

I decided to make the most of it so walked along the harbour side and watched the old junks with their red sails ferry around the water. I got some Durian ice cream, I thought I would try it and it was not a good idea, definitely an acquired taste!

Night started to fall and I took the Ferris wheel near the ferry port to get an amazing view of the City. It was so cheap too, the HSBC building was the best but all the lights were insane!

I walked back along the harbour watching the lights on the mainland. I took the Subway back to causeway bay and found a dumpling shop, got a load of veggie dumplings, a few soft drinks, then found moon cake at another store.

I took it all back to my hotel, and devoured it while looking out over the City. I wasn’t sure what to think of Hong Kong after my first day, but I was looking forward to exploring more over the next few days.

I woke up the next day feeling worse than ever, with a definite case of tonsillitis. So I went to the shop and got salt, proceeded to drink gallons of water and did a load of salt rinses. I tried to enjoy the pool again but it wasn’t the same, I also had to check out of the hotel and into a tiny cheap one in the centre of causeway bay.

It was the smallest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in, but it was only ÂŁ20 and the location was amazing. I stopped and had lunch nearby waiting for check in time, I was frustrated because I had lost almost a full day, but I forced myself out, and managed to get to the Victoria peak tram in time for sunset.

It’s a fun journey, very touristy but the views you get at the top are spectacular. I took a couple of the City by day, then enjoyed a gorgeous sunset over the mountains and sea before the main event. Hong Kong lights up at night in an incredible way, and Victoria peak is one of the best places to enjoy it.

Once I had taken it all in, I headed back down on the tram and wandered towards the central-mid-level escalators, the longest ones in the world! It spans 800 metres and it’s a great way to see the City without having to do the leg work, and I found a random art installation at the top of the escalators.

I found some cool street art around this area too, which I definitely want expecting. I finished the night with a beer and some more veggie dumplings. Tomorrow I was up early to head over to the big Buddha and explore mainland HK.