I thought it was the world’s largest seated Buddha.
Then I thought it was the world’s largest seated bronze Buddha.
Then I learned that it is actually the world’s largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha.
Well, they may have had to put a lot of qualifiers in front of it, but the sheer enormity of this Buddha statue is nevertheless impressive.
Put here on Lantau Island in 1989, it’s (apparently as of late) become quite the commercial attraction.
I doubt that’s what the Buddhist monks had intended or envisioned when they put the Buddha statue here. The “village” and Gondola leading up to the Buddha statue are something of the Antithesis of what Buddhism aims to achieve… freedom from worldly cares and desires.
Instead, the village comes complete with several chain restaurants, a movie theater where they show the film “Walking with Buddha” (we didn’t go to see it), and a place where you can pay to have your child’s picture taken next to a plastic Banyan Tree (the kind of tree under which Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment.
However, past the new village (designed to look old), a visit to both the monastery and then a climb up the stairs to the giant Buddha are absolutely worth the trip.
At the monastery, we heard the monks chanting. That was very neat. The sound however, was broken up by the construction going on. They are building a new monastery here which they are working on now. It will be called the temple of 10,000 Buddhas.
For HKD$200, you can get your name on a brick. For HKD$3,000,000, you can get your name on a dragon column… plus some other benefits. Hey, 10,000 Buddhas don’t come cheap.
Since they are part of the holy ground of the monastery, there are a couple of restaurants serving only Vegetarian choices, both for the meal and the dessert.
We went to one restaurant thinking we would be able to order noodles, but instead had the set menu, which didn’t include the noodles we were quite excited to try. The food was alright, but definitely had been prepared for masses of people.
Ah well. There’s always next time… you know, the next time we are in Hong Kong, take the MTR (subway) to Lantau Island, and catch the Gondola up the hill to see the world’s largest outdoor bronze seated Buddha.
It was impressive to see.
On the way back down on the Gondola, we met 2 couples from Shenzhen, China, who had come to Hong Kong for the day. The number of Chinese Tourists in their own country is something that has surprised me, both in Hong Kong and Macau. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I have been.
When you go to take the gondola to the giant Buddha on top of the hill on Lantau island, let me offer you two pieces of advice:
– Book your tickets online (and print out the receipt – takes you directly to the front of the line).
– Go to the bronze Buddha on weekdays. The lines to go up to the top and to come back down on Saturday were over an hour on each side.