Caleruega Retreat Center (Nasugbu, Batangas)

Dominicum (Caleruega Retreat Center)

After a filling lunch at Josephine’s Restaurant in Tagaytay City, Mark, Jandy, Vicky, Marc, Bryan and I opted to go on a sightseeing trip.  Back on Mark’s Starex van, we traveled a further 15.7 kms. (25 mins.) to the town of Nasugbu, in the adjoining province of Batangas, where we were to visit the much hyped up retreat center and wedding venue called Caleruega. Designed by Arch. Yolanda D. Reyes (Dean of UST’s College of Architecture) and built in 1995, Caleruega was set up as a venue for retreats and seminars of the Dominican institutions.

Mark (center) and Vicky (right) exploring the grounds

 

The much-publicized wedding of Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong gave Caleruega its early exposure and, today, it is a lovely setting for an out of town wedding for brides and grooms.  Even movies and television ads producers have taken notice.

United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) 1996 Design Award in Architecture

From the highway, we turned into of a long, rough, bumpy and isolated road, at the end of which is the sprawling, 8-hectare property owned by the Dominican Fathers. We parked our van just outside.  Past brick-paved rotunda and fountain is the Dominicum (which we mistook to be a chapel), the receiving hall for visitors and those having their retreats at the place.

Perched atop an elevation with a 21 steps leading up to it, its two level Moorish and Spanish-style facade has a segmental arched main entrance flanked by square pilasters and niches with statues of Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Sienna, both doctors of the church, at the ground level.

Stairway leading up to the Dominicum

The main entrance is topped, at the second level, by a semicircular arched window with the stained glass image of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican order.  This window is flanked by smaller semicircular arched windows with stained glass images of his father’s coat-of-arms on the left and his mother’s coat-of-arms on the right.

Stained glass window depicting St. Dominic

The four square pilasters (two reaching up to the pediment) are topped by pineapple (probably hinting at its proximity to Tagaytay)-shaped finials.  The undulating pediment has a bell-gable (espadana) at the center.

Grand stairway

Inside is a grand, elegantly curving staircase (unfortunately, off limits to visitors), a gift house (where one can buy souvenir shirts, trinkets and religious items) on the left, a mess hall on the right and a corridor that leads to the gardens.

Mess hall

From the Dominicum, pathways, following the natural curves and slope of the hill, lead us into a garden bursting with color and life. It was easy to fall in love with the serenity and beauty of this gorgeous retreat sanctuary with its abundant and colorful varieties of flowers, lush plants and trees and walking paths.

In the comforting company of nature, one can sit on solitary park benches, found in niches, and gaze at the 180-degree view of cobalt-blue skies,  the rolling, verdant hills and mountains and the plains. Caleruega’s tag line, “Closer to Nature, Closer to God,” is a fitting description of this nourishing sanctuary.

Lining the pathway are functional dormitories, cottages and overnight guests plus an interesting gazekubo, a conference hall that mixes the elements of a gazebo and a bahay kubo, with adobe stone walls roof made with once brown pawid (now green with small plant growth).

Gazekubo

The many signs and symbols of the Dominicans were abundantly integrated into the architecture.  The motif of the Dominican star (Joanna of Aza, St. Dominic’s mother, saw a star on her son’s forehead, a sign that he would eventually spread light to the world), as well as the sun, can be consistently seen in the refreshing fountain on the driveway, capiz windows, grilles and even inside cottages in the retreat center.

There were also viewing decks where one can witness the stunning show and the magical moment of the sun setting between the two rugged peaks of Batulao (incidentally, the name Batulao is derived from the words bato, meaning “stone,” and “ilaw or “light”), creating the perfect mood for love. St. Dominic’s Point, another beautiful vantage point, has a statue of St. Dominic, his feet lined with a star formation of fuchsia plants.  Rosary Lane, framed by the rolling hills of Mt. Batulao, has a statue of the Mother and Child sitting in prayer, each clutching a rosary.

At the peak was the famed, stunning and quaint Transfiguration Chapel with its Moorish-style facade done in red brick and painted concrete. When we arrived, a wedding was ongoing inside the chapel.  Patterned after the original Caleruega Chapel in Spain, it can fit only 150 people.  Its door has a brass sculpture of seven grapevines (symbolizing the Seven Sacraments).

Transfiguration Chapel

The chapel’s interior, finished with varnished wood and painted concrete, has a lectern with Biblical images of the mustard seed while the tabernacle has a burning bush design.  The altar, made from a carved tree trunk, signifies the Stem of Jesse in the Book of Isaiah. The birds, at the communion table, symbolize God’s providence.

The chapel interior with its centerpiece stained glass window featuring the Transfiguration – Moses on the left, Jesus at center and the prophet Elijah at the right

The stained glass windows of the chapel, giving a very soft and warm glow to the interior (an atmosphere conducive for prayers and reflections), were impressive. On the facade is the seal of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. Inside is the centerpiece of the church floor to ceiling stained glass of the figures of Transfiguration (Jesus, Moses and Elijah).

The author at the Transfiguration Chapel

In front of the chapel is “Thy Will Be Done,” a metal sculpture with arms outstretched done by Baguio City artist Benhur Villanueva. Surrounding the chapel are carefully selected plants and trees (the planted pine trees even mimic the Mediterranean setting where St. Dominic was born in 1170 in Caleruega in Old Castile).

Thy Will Be Done (Benhur Villanueva)

Caleruega is a lovely, quiet and soothing addition to the 39 Catholic houses (retreat houses, formation houses, seminaries and contemplative groups) tucked along Tagaytay Ridge as well as over a dozen Christian lay communities and prayer houses.

Caleruega Retreat Center: Bgry. Kaylaway, Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas.  Mobile number: (0921) 270-9890 and (0921) 830-4226.  E-mail: caleruega_philippines@yahoo.com. Open daily, 8 AM – 12 noon and 1 – 5 PM. A mass is held every Sunday at 11 AM.

How to Get There:
Coming from Tagaytay City, board a Nasugbu bound bus and ask the driver to drop you off at Evercrest where there’s a tricycle station.  Here, you can hire a tricycle for a two-way trip to Caleruega.

Ten Commandments Building (Baguio City, Benguet)

Dominican Hill in Baguio City is now famous for two things – the century-old, haunted Diplomat Hotel Ruins and the newer, giant Ten Commandments Building. This new tourist attraction in Baguio, right beside the Diplomat Hotel ruins, serves as a symbol that drives away evil spirits.

Check out “Diplomat Hotel Ruins

Front view of building

This A-shaped, 12.19 m. high “prayer building” has two slanting slabs of stone carved with the imposing 152.90 sq. m. (1,645.8 sq. ft.) Bible’s Ten Commandments (a copy of the rules supposedly handed down by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai) that broke the Guinness World Records as the world’s first and tallest facility that features the Ten Commandments.

Concrete slab carved with the Ten Commandments

This PhP5.5-million building was commissioned last February 2011 by Nueva Vizcaya businesswoman Grace Galindez-Gupana, chief executive officer of ABS Gen Herbs International Corp. and founder of  the Kingdom of Jerusalem Halleluyah Foundation International (KOJHF, a religious group), and built by contractors from Nueva Ecija. The Ten Commandments building topped her previous world record, attained in 2009, when she built a similar 65 sq. m. tablet on a hill outside Manila.

It was turned over to the city government in July 2011 and officially unveiled on October 26 in the presence of  Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, Menashe Bar-On (Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines), Minister Abraham Okoliko of the Nigerian embassy and the Guinness representative Vic Fabellana. The Israeli ambassador also led a “tree planting” of an authentic Jerusalem-grown olive tree in front of the Ten Commandments building. It houses an altar and a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

Gupana, who seems to have a penchant for setting world records, claims her company now holds seven records, including developing the world’s largest national flag (an 18,847-sq. m. Israeli banner which can cover an area of two football fields) unveiled at the Baguio Athletic Bowl; producing the longest banner (composed of giant flags representing the Philippines, Israel and the two Koreas); the longest drawing of the Biblical serpent, dragon and beast mentioned in the Book of Revelations (5 kms. long and 7 m. wide), and the largest blood pressure checkup session that gathered 2,302 people and organizing the largest diabetes screening session for 503 people, the largest blood identification session involving 260 people, and the largest cholesterol test session for 527 people. The authenticity of these world records could not be independently confirmed.

Replica of the Ark of the Covenant

Ten Commandments Building: Dominican Hill Property, Diplomat Road, Brgy. Dominican Hill-Mirador, Baguio City, 2600 Benguet

Diplomat Hotel Ruins (Baguio City, Benguet)

The author outside the Diplomat Hotel Ruins

The Dominican Hill Retreat House, an abandoned structure atop Dominican Hill commonly known as the Diplomat Hotel, is a favorite spot for photography, airsoft tournaments, film making, wedding receptions and photography, cosplay photoshoots and many more. In spite of it being in ruin, almost every tourist that goes to the City of Pines makes it a point to visit this place because it is one of the most panoramic and picturesque spots in the city. However, due to its brutal and grim World War II history, it is considered by paranormal believers to be haunted.

The century-old Diplomat Hotel Ruins. At far right is the Ten Commandments Building

The building had its beginnings in May 1911 when American friars of the Dominican Order (or Order of Preachers), along with a few Spanish members, made plans for the construction of a vacation house for them and the nuns of their order in Baguio. A 17-hectare hill property was first acquired from Americans who reside in Baguio. The hill where the building was to stand was christened as “Dominican Hill.”

Plaque installed by the National Historical Commission

The building was designed by Fr. Roque Ruaño, O.P., a civil engineer and one of the members of the order.  He was the same architect of the main building of the current campus of the University of Santo Tomas.

The cross at the front of the hotel. Below it is a bas relief of a probable Dominican shield with a crown on top and a dangling rosary

Construction, said to have started in 1913, was supervised by Fr. Ruano himself. On May 23, 1915, it was then inaugurated. At the time of its construction, it was considered the grandest and most expensive stone structure in the city.

Prayer Mountain and Tourism Center

On June 1915, to take advantage of tax exemptions, the order set up a seminary named Colegio del Santissimo Rosario.  However, due to the very small enrollment (only 6 students enrolled in 1917), the school closed two years later and the building was reverted to its original use.

Baroque scroll ornamentation at jambs and the top of the main entrance

During World War II, the people fleeing from the Japanese sought refuge within its walls. Because of its commanding view of the city, the Japanese Imperial Army turned the compound into their headquarters and garrison. Within the courtyard and its grounds, the Kempeitai (Japanese secret police) committed barbaric acts such as torture, rape and decapitation of priests and nuns, as well as refugees.

The rehabilitated west wing of the building

On April 1945, during the liberation of the Philippines, the American forces bombed the place, partially hitting the right wing of the building while Japanese forces committed suicide. Between 1945 and 1947, the building underwent restoration.

The east wing of the building

In 1973, Diplomat Hotels, Inc. acquired ownership of the property and thoroughly remodeled the interior into a 33-bedroom hotel, all the while retaining the unique features and Dominican ambiance (the large white cross and the emblem was retained) which were earlier established by the Dominican friars.

Fireplace at hotel lobby. Tony Agpaoa is said to haunt this area

The hotel was managed by Baguio-based entrepreneur Antonio Agapito “Tony” C. Agpaoa, the sensational and controversial faith healer (later branded as a hoax by many) famous for psychic surgery who claimed to perform surgery with his bare hands without anesthetic.  The hotel became the haven of his patients that came mostly from abroad and they stayed here while being healed.

Multi-tiered fountain at Courtyard No. 1. Babies and little children were said to have been murdered here during the war

In the 1980s, Agpaoa suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with brain hemorrhage. On January 1982, the 42 year old Agpaoa died of his ailments. Since his death, the hotel ceased operations and was abandoned. Following its abandonment, the place was looted and sacked.

Similar fountain at Courtyard No. 2

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, formerly known as the Ministry of Human Settlements, took over the ownership of the hotel. The Presidential Management Staff (PMS) came next.  During the June 16, 1990 Luzon earthquake, the building also sustained significant damage.

Exhibit at west wing

The property on the hill (currently named as Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park) was conveyed to the City Government of Baguio in April 2004 and, on April 5, 2005, was declared a National Historical Site through TCT No. T-85948.

Grand stairway leading to second floor

The entire property was declared as a historical site through City Resolution No. 168, series of 2013. The Deed of Conveyance and City Resolutions provided for the rehabilitation of the old building and the development of the property into a park by obligating the city.

One of the 33 hotel rooms

It is now under the maintenance of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO). In May 2012, as part of the development of Baguio Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park as a preserved heritage site and to promote tourism, two new function halls for weddings, training and workshops in the hotel’s west wing were inaugurated. On September 1, 2014, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared it as an Important Cultural Property. 

Still intact bathtub at bathroom of one of the hotel rooms.

This 2-storey building, an example of classic Baroque architectural design with its striking details and admirable design, is a fusion of European church design, blended with local materials and motifs. Its rusticated facade has a porte cochere over a driveway.

The author

The ground floor, with semicircular arched windows, and the second floor, with rectangular windows, are separated by a horizontal cornice. The cornice, at the roof deck level, is located above corbels.

Headless ghosts of nuns and priests are said to haunt these hallways.

Planned out as a castle complete with crenelations, it has a massive fortress-like character. This is also the first hotel in the country, and even in Asia, to have a cross on its gabled main entrance. From this stone crucifix on the roof deck, a panoramic view of the city can be seen. Its roof also has water collecting devices. Inside are two courtyards, both with multi-tiered fountains.

Second floor hallway.  Note the still intact, circa 1970s crazy-cut marble flooring.  Floor beams are supported by decorative coorbels

If ghosts, spirits and the paranormal tickle your fancy, then this so famously haunted, eerie, bleak and abandoned building is definitely for you.  Considered as one of the most haunted places in Baguio City and the Philippines, even since the Diplomat Hotel was open, employees and guests would report hearing strange and eerie noises coming from the building and seeing headless ghosts, with their heads on a platter, constantly roaming the hallways.

Secondary stairway

However, even after the hotel shut down, those sightings would continue.  The people living nearby were often disturbed at night by sounds coming from the Dominican Hill. They would hear banging of doors and windows, clattering of dishes, voices of screaming people who seem to be agonizing, as well as rattling and clanging sounds alternating with total silence.  Adding to the eerie atmosphere is the derelict condition of the hotel.

Fireplace at east wing

As previously mentioned, during the World War II, numerous nuns and priests (forced to serve as helpers for the soldiers) were beheaded here and this is believed to be the reason why headless apparitions are often seen, during the night, inside the hotel. Crying coming from kids and babies, a common noise, are attributed to the massacre of numerous children done at the fountain.

Roof deck

Others say these are the restless spirits of Agpaoa and his patients.  Many years ago, a fire broke out in a portion of the hotel and several guests who were then staying at the hotel were trapped inside and died.  According to one of its caretakers, a woman who used to work there as a nurse committed suicide, for unknown reasons, by jumping from the rooftop where the cross is situated.

Cross seen from the roof deck.  A nurse was said to have jumped to her death at this area

A lot of documentaries have been written about this mysterious hotel.  It was featured on television programs such as Magandang Gabi, Bayan‘s 2004 Halloween Special, AHA! and Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho. Right beside the Diplomat Hotel ruins, is the fairly recent, A-shaped Ten Commandments Building, a “prayer building” which serves as a symbol that drives away evil spirits.

Check out “Ten Commandments Building

 

View of Baguio City from Diplomat Hotel Ruins

Diplomat Hotel: Dominican Hill, Diplomat Road, Brgy. Dominican Hill-Mirador,  Baguio City, 2600 Benguet. Open 6 AM – 6 PM.

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto (Baguio City, Benguet)

The author at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto (or simply the Grotto or Lourdes Grotto), a Catholic shrine and place of prayer and meditation, is one of the most popular attractions in Baguio City.  Located on Mirador (meaning “prospect point”) Hill, in the western part of the city, this very familiar and much photographed spot is particularly crowded on Sundays and during Holy Week, when pilgrims and devotees come to seek the blessing of the Virgin Mary.

The 252-step stairway leading up to the grotto

Visitors to this popular tourist destination have increased in numbers over the years. On Good Friday, it is estimated that about 10,000 people visit the grotto.  To reach the shrine, visitors must climb 252 steps or drive a light vehicle up a winding and steep paved road. When you reach the top of the stairs, it is traditional to light a candle.

The century-old Lourdes Grotto, an integral adjunct of the Mirador Jesuit Villa, was constructed in 1913 at the initiative of Fr. José Algue, S.J., the director of the Manila Observatory. It was made of the same limestone, probably gathered on Mirador Hill, and was built, in slow stages, by Jesuit scholastics (seminarians), brothers and fathers, usually during the summer when Jesuits on vacation would augment the community’s population.

Jandy at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

The stairway, from the grotto to the foot of the hills, was completed five years later. The steps began as stones laid on the ground but was later covered with cement.

Candle gallery

Prayer area for devotees

Inside the grotto is a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The image, of polychromed molave, was carved by noted sculptor Isabelo Tampingco, whose name is inscribed (“I. Tampingco Manila 1913”) at the back of the statue. Above the statue are inscribed the Latin words Tota Pulchra Es Maria (“You are beautiful Mary,” part of an old Catholic prayer of the same title). An excellent view of the city can be had from the grotto.

View of Baguio City

On March 2007, work began on the grotto’s upper most section. For the convenience of pilgrims, the upper most landing was extended by more than 150 sq. m. and handicap access was provided. The stairs leading up to the grotto, damaged during the July 16, 1990 Luzon earthquake, was repaired and a center rail added for the convenience of the elderly.

Kapilya Nina Hesus at Maria

Within the shrine is the Kapilya nina Hesus at Maria (Chapel of Jesus and Mary).  Commonly known as the Lourdes Grotto Chapel, inside is an image of the Divine Mercy on the left and Our Lady of Lourdes on the right.

Interior of Kapilya Nina Hesus at Maria. On the left is the statue of the Divine Mercy while on the right is the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes

Also within the grounds is The Shrine of The Risen Lord, a big statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms.  Made on the spot by skilled sculptors from Black Nazarene Enterprises (the sculpture atelier of Bernie Caber), it was dedicated on February 11, 2008, the 150th anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous.

Walkway leading to The Shrine of the Risen Lord

The statue will be the culmination of a planned outdoor Stations of the Cross whose bas reliefs will also be designed by Bernie Caber.  It will begin near the parking area at the vehicular entrance of Mirador Hill and will follow a penitential path through the rock formations of Mirador Hill.

Shrine of the Risen Lord

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto: Dominican Hill Rd., Mirador Hill, Baguio City, 2600 Benguet. Open daily, 6 AM – 7:30 PM.

How to Get There: From Zandueta St. (Baguio Central District), jeepneys travel to Lourdes or Dominican Hills.

Po Lin Monastery (Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

The author at the courtyard of Po Lin Monastery

After our visit to the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha), we proceeded to the nearby Po Lin Monastery,Buddhist monastery located on level Ngong Ping Plateau, between the lush, green Lantau Peak and Lei Nak Peak.  The wooden bracelets sold near the Big Buddha statue (an extension of the monastery) are made at Po Lin (translated as “precious lotus”).

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View of Po Lin Monastery from Tian Tan Buddha

Founded in 1906 by three monks visiting from Jiangsu Province on the Chinese mainland, it was initially known simply as “The Big Hut” (大茅蓬 Tai Mao Pung) but was renamed to its present name in 1924.

In 1918, three nuns ordained at this monastery established a private nunnery, dedicated to Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy), called Chi Chuk Lam (紫竹林) on Lantau’s Lower Keung Hill (下羌山). In the 1950s, there were about 20 jushi and nuns residing there but, today, only an elderly abbess remains. On June 2013, the site was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hall of the Heavenly Kings

Hall of the Heavenly Kings

We spent some time admiring the architecture of the structures of this orderly Buddhist monastery complex which houses many Buddhist scriptures.

Kyle, Jandy and Cheska at the courtyard of Po Lin Monastery

Its many halls (Da Xiong Bao Dian, the Maitreya Hall, the Hall of Ti-tsang Bodhisattva, the Weituo Hall, the Banruo Hall, the Sutra-Collection Hall) and prominent architectural buildings and structures sit tightly on the north-eastern to south-western axis, overlooking the South China Sea. On the south side of the axis are the Po Lin Hall and the facility for ceremonial and religious activities.

Hall of Bodhisattva Skanda.  On the upper level is the Hall of Great Hero while on the lower level is the Hall of Arhats

San Men (Mountain Gate) leads up to the Hall of Bodhisattva Skanda, the Main Shrine Hall of Buddha, and the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas.  In symmetrical arrangements on the flanks are the Bell Tower (houses a 1,000 kg. bronze bell) and the Drum Tower, the Hall of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, the Meditation Hall, the Dining Hall and the Sangha Hall.

Hall of Great Hero (off limits to visitors)

These edifices enclose and create roomy space and airy courtyards. The Hall of Ti-tsang Bodhisattva houses an approximately 200 kg. (441 lb.) bronze statue of Ti-tsang Bodhisattva.

Hall of Arhats

Hall of Arhats

In its effort in spreading Buddhism and in moving forward towards globalization, the monastery has changed its architectural concept from local southern China to that of Beijing palatial design.  The seven-span Hall of Bodhisattva Skanda, completed in 1970, adopted the architectural design of the Ming and Qing’s Dynasty palaces.

Its double-eaved gable roof, made of yellow-glazed tiles, has a ridge decorated with zoomorphic ornaments, dragons, phoenixes and animal patterns. Coiled granite dragons, carved in the Minnan style, can be seen on the front and the back of the hall.

Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas

On the other hand, the incredibly ornate Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, which went on the drawing board in 2000 and was completed in 2014, adopted the classical architectural concepts of the Song Dynasty.

Koi Pond

Covering an area of more than 6,000 sq. m., it now enshrines more than 100 statues and has a shrine hall, an exhibition hall, a meditation hall, an abbot’s chamber, a scripture library and other multi-functional facilities.

Bell Tower

The Great Hall of Treasure (Da Xiong Bao Diane) enshrines three bronze statues of the Buddha (Sakyamuni, Dipamkarara and Maitreya, representing his past, present and future lives). Many visitors here join in praying and giving offerings at the temple.

Drum Tower

Interior of Drum Tower

For those who fancy typical, good quality vegetarian cuisine, the monastery also has a vegetarian kitchen where a multi-course lunch can cost you up to HK$138.  Dishes are served at the dining hall and at the Fat Ho Memorial Hall. Opposite the dining hall, snacks such as salty dimsum, steamed cakes, spring water bean curd, glutinous rice dumplings with mango filling and noodles are sold.

Fat Ho Memorial Hall

Near the giant Tian Tan Buddha and the monastery is the Ngong Ping Village and Ngong Ping 360, a gondola lift running between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping.

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Deli Vegetarian Cafe

Po Lin Monastery: Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2985 5248.  Fax: +852 2985 5600.  E-mail: info@plm.org.hk.  Website: www.plm.org.hk.  Open daily, 8AM to 6PM. The Vegetarian Kitchen is open daily from 11:30AM to 4:30 PM  (7 PM on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays).

Tian Tan Buddha (Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

Tian Tan Buddha Statue

The majestic Big Buddha statue, sitting atop the peak of 479 m. high Mount Muk Yue, is sited near Po Lin Monastery.  At ground level, the statue was quite a formidable and imposing sight. Together with many other tourists, we were huffing and puffing on our way up, only catching our breath at a number of stair landings. The view of Lantau Island, the 934 m. (3,064 ft.) Lantau Peak and the South China Sea from the top was ’breathtaking.

Check out “Po Lin Monastery

This large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, a major center of Buddhism in Hong Kong and a popular tourist attraction, symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.  The statue, skillfully mastered and conceptualized by the artist to shape the perfect design of the Buddha statue that we see today, was a culmination of the characteristics of Buddhist sculptural art of the Sui and Tang Dynasties (when Buddhism was at its prime).

Taking 12 years to plan and build, this bronze Buddha statue, an outstanding piece in Buddhist sculptural art in recent history, is now a major landmark in Hong Kong attracting numerous local and overseas Buddhists and visitors.  It symbolizes the stability of Hong Kong, prosperity of China and peace on earth.

The author at the foot of the stairs leading up to the Buddha

The Big Buddha Statue, combining traditional bronze art with modern science and technology, embodies the harmonious resonance of Buddhist spirit and modern civilization – a solemn epitome of human beings’ continuous and unyielding pursuit of moral happiness and peace on earth.

Grace (near left), Cheska (fifth from left), Bryan (sixth from left) and Kyle (right) making their way up the stairs

Here’s the timeline of the statues construction:

  • In 1974, the government granted Po Lin Monastery 6,567 sq. m. of land in Mount Muk Yue, at a nominal premium, for the building of the Buddha statue.
  • On December 26, 1981, the Committee for the Construction of the Tian Tan Buddha Statue was formally established, by Po Lin Monastery, to coordinate the project, including the artistic design and concept of the statue, building materials and details of construction.
  • On April 1982, the work on the 1:5 scale, 5 m. high plaster model of the statue, fashioned by Ms. Hou Jinhui of the Guangzhou Institute of Fine Arts, was started.
  • On February 1984, the plaster model was completed, the draft of which had been revisited eight times, following discussions and consultations with the artist responsible for the conceptual design of the statue.
  • On September 26, 1986, the plaster model of the statue was shipped to Nanjing from Guangzhou.
  • On April 1989, the bronze pieces were transported to Hong Kong by sea.
  • On October 13, 1989, the last bronze piece of the statue was put in place and a solemn topping ceremony was held on the same day.
  • On December 29, 1993, which the Chinese reckon as the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment, the statue was inaugurated, with monks from around the world invited to the opening ceremony. Also taking part in the proceedings were distinguished visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Halfway up the stairs

The project was divided into six stages, with Nanjing Chengguang Machinery Plant of the China Astronautics Science and Technology Consultant Corporation principally carrying out the actual casting, finishing and assembly of the Buddha statue.  During the overall project design stage, over 5,000 drawings and 300 technical documents were produced within less than three months. The daily and monthly work progress for the subsequent three years was mapped out and prepared by system analysis.

Bronze incense censer

The enlargement, carried out by the technical staff through a special “survey-controlled box enlargement method,” involved the use of stereoscopic photography to find out the position of the statue in space.  When over 3,900 coordinate points were established, the computer was then used to calculate the enlargement. At the same time, to form the inner frame of the statue, a traditional method of using boxes which were stacked up in layers was used. Then plaster was applied to the outer surface, producing a 1:1 scale model.

The body of the statue, cast in 202 bronze pieces after careful studies and surveying, was supported by an inner steel framework and fixed by connecting bolts. Auxiliary supports were used to connect the bronze pieces to the main framework.  The bronze pieces had thicknesses ranging from 10 to 13 mm. and the error margin of each cast piece was less than 3 mm..  Precision molds were prepared according to the different shapes of the pieces.

After overcoming numerous difficulties, the professional staff, in an effort to portray fully the splendor of Buddha Sakyamuni and to achieve a perfect artistic design, managed to finally cast the face of the Buddha in a single piece. To rehearse for the on-site assembly, a trial assembly was carried out in the plant where any problems that might occur on site were detected and solved.

View of Po Lin Monastery

The Buddha statue was trial assembled separately in three sections (upper, middle and the lower) and various necessary adjustments and trimmings were made to the bronze pieces plus initial mechanical finishing was also carried out.

Jandy with the Big Buddha in the background

On arrival at Lantau Island, the very large face piece and two other large bronze pieces were safely transported up to Mount Muk Yue with the help of the Transport Department who provided a large lorry and two large cranes (which sandwiched the lorry in the middle) for this arduous journey up the winding and narrow roads on the island. The arduous task of assembly and welding (the length of weld was over 5 kms.) of the statue was carried out, in open air, from bottom upwards in eight layers.

To ensure that the Buddha statue would not be damaged by strong winds, calculations on the wind pressure, imposed load and material strength of the various parts of the statue were conducted the specialists using computers and the Beijing Institute of Aerodynamics specially created a testing model, utilizing the wind tunnel employed for satellites and rockets, to conduct unidirectional as well as multi-directional wind tests on the statue as a whole and on the various parts.

The Offering of the Six Devas

The optimal coating for the surface coloring of the statue, carefully studied for over a year, was selected from various formulas for surface coloring.  Oozing an air of classical simplicity and solemn dignity, it is not susceptible to fading because of corrosion due to the exposure to the elements.

One of the halls inside the podium

Here are some interesting trivia regarding the statue:

  • The design of the statue was based on the 32 laksanas (“physical marks” of the Buddha as described in the sutras).
  • The Tian Tan Buddha is one of the five large Buddha statues in China and is the biggest sitting Buddha statue built outdoor.
  • The statue was named The Big Buddha because its base is a model of the Earthly Mount of Tian Tan (or Altar of Heaven), the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
  • Enthroned on a lotus on top of a three-platform altar, it is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas,” symbolizing the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment.  They are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit and music to the Buddha.
  • Every feature of the Buddha statue has a symbolic meaning of religious significance. The face, measuring 4.3 m. by 5.8 m., with a thickness of 13 mm. and a weight of 5 metric tons, was modeled after the Buddha Vairocana of the Longmen Grottoes for its fullness and serene beauty. The clothes and headgear had their inspiration from the soft and smooth flowing lines of the Buddha Sakyamuni image in Cave 360 of the Mogao Caves.
  • For the building of the Buddha statue, the original idea was to use reinforced concrete. However, due to artistic requirements, structural problems as well as the anticipated difficulties in quality and cost control, bronze was finally chosen as the building material.
  • The Big Buddha is 34 m. (112 ft.) tall, weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons) and was constructed from 202 bronze pieces.
  • Reputedly the figure can be seen across the bay from as far away as Macau on a clear day.
  • In addition to its exterior components, there is a strong steel framework inside to support the heavy load.
  • Visitors have to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha. However, to accommodate the handicapped, the site also features a small winding road for vehicles.
  • The Buddha’s raised right hand represents the removal of affliction while the left hand, resting open on his lap, is in a gesture of generosity.
  • The statue faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south.
  • One of the statue’s most renowned features inside is a relic of Gautama Buddha, consisting of some of his alleged cremated Only visitors who purchase an offering for the Buddha are allowed to see the relic, entering to leave it there.
  • On October 18, 1999, the Hong Kong Post Office issued a definitive issue of landmark stamps, of which the HK$2.50 value depicts The Big Buddha.
  • In 2000, the Big Buddha Statue was elected as the fourth of the 10 Engineering Wonders in Hong Kong (the others, all public works projects, are the Lantau Link, the Hong Kong International Airport Passenger Terminal and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Extension). Of the projects in the private sector, the Big Buddha Stature came as the first.
  • On May 22, 2012, it was also featured on the HK$3 value of the Five Festival set, this one celebrating the birth of Sakyamuni Buddha. The MTR corporation also issued a souvenir ticket featuring a photograph of the statue.

View of Lantau Island and South China Sea

There are three floors beneath the statue – Hall of the Universe, Hall of Benevolent Merit and Hall of Remembrance.   In the show room, there’s a huge carved bell, inscribed with images of Buddhas and designed to ring every 7 minutes, 108 (symbolizing the release of 108 kinds of human vexations) times a day.

View of Lantau Peak

Tian Tan Buddha: Ngong Ping Rd., Ngong PingLantau Island, Hong Kong. The Buddha (as well as Po Lin Monastery) are open daily, 10 AM to 5 PM. Access to the outside of the Buddha is free of charge, but there is an admission fee to go inside the Buddha.

How to Get There: Visitors can reach the site by bus or taxi, travelling first to Mui Wo (also known as “Silvermine Bay”) via ferry from the Outlying Islands piers in Central (pier No. 6) or to Tung Chung station via the MTR, or via the 25-min. Ngong Ping 360 gondola lift between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping. Visitors may then travel to and from the Buddha via the Mui Wo ↔ Ngong Ping (NLB No. 2) and Tung Chung ↔ Ngong Ping (NLB No. 23) bus routes.

Ngong Ping Piazza (Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

New Pai Lau of Ngong Ping Piazza

During our cable car ride to Ngong Ping Village, we already saw the huge Tian Tan Buddha (also called the Big Buddha) statue sitting on the side of the mountain and, after our return from our visit to Tai O Fishing Village, we proceeded to go there.  Along the way, we had to traverse the length of the 1.5-hectare Ngong Ping Piazza.

The author at Bodhi Path

The piazza, where visitors could get started and tour to observe the religions and nature of Ngong Ping, connects with Po Lin Monasterythe Big BuddhaNgong Ping Cable CarNgong Ping Village and the Wisdom Path, a landing with 38 impressive, 8-10 m. high wooden rectangular beams, each beam inscribed with Chinese scriptures that  make up the prayers of the Heart Sutra, one of the most popular Buddhist prayers.

Check out “Po Lin MonasteryTian Tan BuddhaNgong Ping 360 and Ngong Ping Village

This intensely Buddhist piazza has four main components – New Pai Lau (built to reflect the northern architectural style of Qing Dynasty); Bodhi Path; Di Tan (Altar of Earth); and a Chinese landscaped garden constructed to echo with the design of Po Lin Monastery.

Stone statue of General Mihira

As we left Ngong Ping Village, we walked through the New Pai Lau, the towering ornamental archway to Bodhi Path, the central walkway paved with lotus tiles, where we were surrounded by Chinese structures that emit an aura of antiquity, appreciating the stone statues of the 1.8 m. high “Twelve Divine Generals” (each weighing about 1 ton) as well as 40 lotus-shaped stone lanterns installed on both sides.

Stone statue of General Anila

The “Twelve Divine Generals,” the protectors of the Healing Buddha, are also guardians of the hours of the day, each responsible for a two-hour period.

Di Tan at Ngong Ping Piazza

In addition, they represent the twelve Chinese zodiac signs, as denoted by the different zodiac signs on their crowns. Di Tan, the open space of Po Lin Monastery, is primarily tiled with grey granite paving. The four lotus ponds, built on the perimeter, facilitate the staging of religious ceremonies and rituals held from time to time.

Tai O Fishing Village (Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

Entrance to Tai O Fishing Village

From the Ngong Ping Village, we walked towards the bus terminal and boarded Bus 21 which leaves about every hour or so for Tai O (Chinese: 大澳) Fishing Village, a short 15-min. (6.7- km). drive via the Lantau Trail Section 4 and Tai O Rd.

Check out “Ngong Ping Village

This quaint and picturesque fishing town is partly located on an island of the same name on the western side of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. Despite damage by a large fire in July 2000, Tai O is still a tourist spot for both foreigners and residents of other parts of Hong Kong.

The village’s name, meaning “large inlet,” refers to the outlet for Tai O Creek and Tai O River which merges as it moves through Tai O. On the southwest part of Lantau Island, the Tai O River splits to the north (as Tai O Creek) and west.  At this fork lies the island referred to as Tai O.

The village is located mostly on the banks of the Tai O River. Two pedestrian bridges cross the river on its northern and western forks. The western and northern parts of the island, facing the South China Sea, are uninhabited.

For a short time, Tai O was once occupied by Portuguese during the Battle of Tamao (a naval battle, in 1521, where the Ming imperial navy defeated a Portuguese fleet led by Diogo Calvo).

Souvenir items

In 1729, a fort was built at nearby Fan Lau  to protect shipping on the Pearl River. When the British came to Hong Kong, Tai O was then known as a village of the Tanka, a community of fisher folk who’ve, for generations, built their houses on stilts above the tidal flats of Lantau Island.

Dried squid

During and after the Chinese Civil War, Tai O became a primary entry point for illegal immigration for those (mostly Cantonese) escaping from the People’s Republic of China, some of whom stayed in Tai O.  Tai O also attracted people from other Hong Kong ethnic groups, including Hoklo (Hokkien) and Hakka.

Dried fish

Tai O used to be a very important trading and fishing port, but this is a thing of the past. Currently, while many residents still continue to fish, the fishing lifestyle in Tai O is dying out as it barely provides a subsistence income. Though there is a public school on the island, most of its young people move away when they come of age.  Today, tourism seems to be Tai O’s drawcard with the Stilt Village it’s biggest attraction.

The harbor

Upon arrival at the bus terminus, we walked towards the lively, traditional seafood market.  A feast for the eyes (but, perhaps, not the nose), we strolled through its stalls and alleys, checking out the live seafood tanks and the vast array of dried traditional salted fishshrimp paste, XO sauce, salted egg yolk, laogong bin (husband cake), vegetables (some of which we did not recognize), knick knacks and souvenirs (pearl jewelry) being sold at storefronts.

Boarding our kaido

At the booth of Tai O Boat Excursion Limited, we boarded one its kaidos (small ferry boats that accommodates around 10-12 people) that would take us on an approximately 20-min. tour (which we booked beforehand online) along the river, for a close up view, of activity surrounding the harbor and the daily life in the stilt houses and, then, for a short jaunt into the sea.

Stilt houses along the river

Our ride first took us for a look at the stilt houses (pang uks) right over the waterway. In spite of the houses’ dilapidated look, the village is still a quite scenic and enchanting photographer’s paradise.

The unusual but traditional stilt houses, with its pretty setting on the coast framed by the mountains, is predominant of the old Southern Chinese fishing villages and one of the few remaining places where you can still see them in Hong Kong.

Sun Ki Bridge

All interconnected, they form a tightly knit community that literally lives on the water. There are also cafes and restaurant alongside the river plus some old house boats.

Tai Chung Bridge

After riding around the stilt village, our boat then headed out to the harbor and open sea. Before heading out to sea, we passed underneath the Tai Chung Bridge, a manually operated steel pedestrian drawbridge spanning the narrow creek dividing the town which replaced, in October 1996, a  rope-drawn “ferry,” tended by local Tanka women for over 85 years, which used to be quite popular with visitors. The Sun Ki Bridge, completed in 1979, also connects the village to the mainland.

A pair of fishing boats

As we cruised along the harbor, we saw fishermen coming and going and cleaning and putting away catch and gear, all traces of what this active fishing port used to be. Out at sea, we saw some some beautiful cliffs and rock formations along the coastline of Lantau Island.

The coastline of Lantau Island

Many tourists also come to Tai O to see the sunset and, specifically, to take boat trips to see rare, endangered Chinese white dolphins (also known as “Pink Dolphins”) but it was too early for the former and we didn’t see any of the latter. From afar, we espied the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZMB), the cross-border mega bridge linking Lantau with Macau and Zhuhai which, incidentally, official opened on that day.

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZMB)

Though Tai O is known as the “Venice of Hong Kong” or “Venice of the Orient,” don’t expect too much of a comparison as its stilt house architecture is a far cry from that of the famous and romantic Italian city.

The author

With Lantau Island becoming much more accessible, through new transportation options, and the new influx of tourists to the Big Buddha and Ngong Ping area, things in Tai O are changing fast.  Though still very much a quaint fishing village, sooner or later Tai O cannot escape the inevitable phase of development that is bound to come. Still, Tai O was definitely worth the trip from Hong Kong.

How to Get There:

  • From Central, take the ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo, then Bus No. 1 to Tai O bus terminus. The bus journey takes approximately 50 minutes.
  • From Kowloon, the easiest way is to get there is taking the MTR to Tung Chung Station, then Bus No. 11 to Tai O. From Tung Chung Station Exit B, take Ngong Ping Cable Car to Ngong Ping Village (approximately 25 minutes) then take Bus No. 21 (HK$6.6 on weekdays, for single journeys, and HK14 on Sundays and public holidays) to Tai O terminus (approximately 20 minutes). Sometimes Bus No. 21 fills up quick so, instead of waiting for the next one, consider a taxi (the taxi stands are right next to the bus stop). The taxi ride costs about HK50.At the terminus, walk for around five minutes to the steel drawbridge and then take a stroll along the waterfront.
  • By New Lantau Bus, Tai O can be reached from Mui Wo(Bus No. 1, HK$12 on weekdays, for single journeys, and HK20 on Sundays and public holidays), Tung Chung (Bus No. 11, HK$12 on weekdays, for single journeys, and HK120 on Sundays and public holidays) and Ngong Ping (Bus No. 21).
  • There are ferry piers on Tai O, close to Tai O bus terminus. It operates daily as the following routes connecting Tai O with Tuen Mun(Tuen Mun Ferry Pier, service by Fortune Ferry), Tung Chung (Tung Chung New Development Ferry Pier, service by Fortune Ferry) and Sha Lo Wan (operated by Fortune Ferry).

Tai O Fishing Village: Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Boat rides are offered by the locals and you will have no trouble getting on one.  As soon as you get off the bus or as you walk around the market, you will find somebody peddling their services. The boats depart from many points, including the bridge and the main marina, but they all cover the same main spots.  Prices for the boat rides are negotiable.  You are expected to pay about HK20 per adult (half for children) but, the bigger your group, the more leverage you will have.

Ngong Ping Village (Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

Ngong Ping Village.  In the background in Lantau Peak while on the right is the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)

The terminus of our 5.5-km. long Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride  was Ngong Ping Village (Chinese: 昂坪; pinyin: Ángpíng; Jyutping: ngong4 ping4), located on a highland in the western part of Lantau IslandHong Kong. Lantau Peak, the second highest peak of Hong Kong, is at its southeast.

Check out “Ngong Ping 360

The arched entrance to Ngong Ping Village

When we arrived at the village, “360 Ultimate Masters Face-off: Shaolin vs Emei” kung fu show (running from September 29 to October 28) was ongoing.

360 Ultimate Masters Face-off

Featuring kung fu masters from Shaolin and Emei, they performed a marvelous mock up of a vigorous battle featuring three new weapons – the meteor hammer of Shaolin and the fans (an offensive and a defensive weapon) and long-tasselled sword (an aggressive but flexible weapon) of Emei.

Long-tasselled sword

The kung fu of Shaolin is said to be strong and powerful while Emei emphasizes softness and flexibility in their moves. Their battle is a fusion of Yin (Emei) and Yang(Shaolin).

Fans of the Emei

The fairly new Ngong Ping Village, created at the top of the Ngong Ping plateau, was opened in 2005 together with other facilities and tourist attractions that include the Walking with the Buddha (Stage 360), the Monkey’s Tale Theatre and Ngong Ping Tea House, all built to accommodate the influx of tourists now flocking to the Tian Tan Buddha (or Big Buddha) and the Ngong Ping Cable Car.

This well appointed, 1.5-hectare open-air and culturally-themed village, built at along a “tourist corridor,” serves as the central point for the many highlights and tourist attractions in the area.

Blessing Drums

It has modern facilities, 6,000 sq. m. of shop space and an 18,600 sq. m. piazza between the cable car terminal and the Po Lin Monastery (a youth hostel is located near here), a quick 5-minute walk from the Village. A visit to the Tai O Fishing Village is a short 15-minute ride away from Ngong Ping Village.

Walking With Buddha Show Theater

This tourist trap is complete with a wide array of “themed” souvenir shops, tea houses as well as fast food outlets (Subway, Starbucks, etc.) offering both Western and Asian fare. Monkey’s Tale Theater and the Walking with Buddha Show are short 15-minute audio-visual, multimedia attractions that recount Buddha‘s legends and stories.  We chose to skip these shows and save on the extra ticket costs.

Monkey’s Tale Theater

It also serves as a transportation hub. The nearby Public Transport Interchange has bus lines and taxis for easily getting around to other parts of Lantau.

For visitors who expect to see something more “genuine” and less “commercialized,” it is, by no means, an “old village.” Though built in the old traditional Chinese architectural designs to mirror and uphold the cultural and spiritual veracity of the Ngong Ping area, it has somewhat of a theme park atmosphere and this is what disappoints some visitors. Unless you need to eat (we had a late lunch here), this was an attraction not particularly worth spending time at.

Ngong Ping Village: 111 Ngong Ping Rd, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.cChinese New Year, Christmas and the three days of Buddha’s birthday are among the most crowded days.

How to Get There:  Ngong Ping Village is connected, via the Ngong Ping Cable Car, to the Tung Chung lower terminal which is linked via the Tung Chung Station MTR to the rest of Hong Kong.

 

Ngong Ping 360 (Hong Kong)

On board the Ngong Ping 360 cable car.  L-R: Bryan, the author, Kyle, Jandy, Cheska and Grace

Our fourth day in Hong Kong was reserved for Ngong Ping 360, which consists of a continuous circulating bi-cable aerial ropeway gondola lift system (referred to by its operators as a “cable car”) ride and a themed Ngong Ping Village, plus its nearby sites such as the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha), Po Lin Monastery, and the Tai O Fishing Village .

Check out “Po Lin MonasteryTian Tan Buddha “Tai O Fishing Village,” and Ngong Ping Village

The long queue for tickets at Tung Chung Terminal

From Yau Ma Tei Station, we all took the Tsuen Wan line to Lai King where we transferred to the Tung Chung line (Orange Line) and got off at Tung Chung Station. As we all had an Octopus card (their equivalent of Singapore’s EZ-link card) plus Cheska easily found our way around on the MTR, getting there was a breeze. The whole trip took all of 40 mins., passing 9 stations along the way.

Getting our passes at the exclusive Klook VIP counter

Once we got to Tung Chung station, we followed the signage out of the station (Exit B).  Past Citygate Outlets, we found the Ngong Ping 360 cable car terminal. When we got there, the queue was long, with long waiting times, for those purchasing tickets on the spot even if this this was on a Wednesday afternoon. I could only imagine how bad it can get during peak periods. Lucky for us, Cheska used Klook to get us cheaper cable car tickets.  At the Klook VIP counter, she simply flashed the e-voucher to redeem our physical ticket.

At the shorter queue for Crystal Cabin passengers

Once again, in order to avoid long queues, Cheska got us round trip tickets costing HK$210 each on Klook versus HK$255 on the official Ngong Ping 360’s website (tickets available two weeks in advance) which Cheska found reliable and easy to use, especially with her mobile app.

A set of cable cars

Her choice of the crystal cabin (the cable car with a glass bottom) was deliberate as the snaking queue for the standard, non-glass-bottomed cabin, though a fair bit cheaper, tended to be far longer. This turned out to be true. Both sets of cabins circulate on the same cable but their passengers are segregated by queuing systems at both terminals.

Kyle seated on the transparent, 3-layer, 5 cm. thick glass bottom of our cable car

Past the queue, we got on the cable car.  As they usually try to fit in about 7–8 people per cabin (and standing room for another 7) and our group was smaller than that, a couple joined us in our cabin.

Yat Tung Estate on Lantau Island

It was to be a 25-minute, 5.7-km. (3.5 mi.) ride to Ngong Ping Village.  The system has a capacity of 3,500 people per hour in each direction.

Ngong Ping Cable Car Angle Station

The lift system runs across eight towers (including the stations) with five of the towers located within the country park. From Tung Chung Terminal, our cable car ran across Tung Chung Bay to Airport Island Angle Station on Chek Lap Kok, where it turns through about 60 degrees before returning across Tung Chung Bay.

Ngong Ping 360’s magnificent views

It then ran up the Lantau North Country Park to another angle station near Nei Lak Shan (Nei Lak Shan Angle Station), before finally descending to the Ngong Ping Terminal.

Hong Kong International Airport

It changed direction twice at the two angle stations, one on the south shore of Chek Lap Kok; the other west of Nei Lak Shan within the Lantau North Country Park.

Boardwalk at Lantau North Country Park

Waterfall at Lantau North Country Park

During the 25 minute journey, we had a stunning bird’s eye view, from our windows as well as from our transparent, three-layer 5 cm. thick glass floor, over the verdant landscape of North Lantau Country Park, the South China Sea, the southern shore of Hong Kong International Airport, the Tung Chung valley, Ngong Ping Plateau and surrounding terrain and waterways. As we approached Ngong Ping, we saw The Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.

Kaido cruising Tung Chung Bay

Ngong Ping Cable Car: Runs daily, 10 AM to 6 PM.