“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared”
Ni hao! After an amazing time spent in Tokyo, admiring the beautiful Sakura it was time to pack our bags and head off to Hong Kong.
Our base this time was at the Novotel Hong Kong Citygate Hotel on Lantau Island only a 10 minute free shuttle ride away from the International airport and close to the local metro system.
As our stay was only short we had decided to pack a few activities in, one of those being a visit to the 10,000 Buddha Monastery.
I had visions of getting to the summit of a hill somewhere and behold there would be 10,000 Buddha’s together!
My husband is very good when it comes to planning our transport needs anywhere overseas, as we quite enjoy catching public transport, and this time was no exception. So we caught the metro (MRT) from Tung Chung to Lai King, transferred at Prince Edward station, then hopped on the Green line to Kowloon and transferred again onto the Blue line to Sha Tin, our final destination.
(One thing I would like to mention, is that while I was standing up on the train, I noticed how young people and even older adults would gladly give up their seats for the elderly people that were standing. It was so heartening to see because in my culture we are raised and encouraged to do this as well. So to show thoughtfulness, kindness and respect towards our elder’s is obviously the foundation of many other cultures too).
So, as we alighted at Sha tin station and were looking around to find the exit, an elderly Chinese gentleman came towards us and asked us if we knew how to spell a simple English word; and although I thought this was random I was more than happy to help and he was very grateful. Little did I know that this gentleman would play a pivotal part in our day.
Anyway, all we knew was that we had to exit the station and find the “off the path” way to navigate our way to the Monastery. We found some stairs which led to a school and a guy in broken English waved to us to follow the path below.
Honestly, we were a bit sceptical because it looked out of place, no people were around and it led past some people’s homes and we didn’t want to be rude and just cruise on by.
Unsure as to what to do, we just waited and then luckily two more couples came along and they were obviously lost just like us. Funnily, there is comfort in numbers.
Long story short, one of the couples spoke Chinese and managed to find out where we needed to go and gestured for us to follow them. So passed the rows of small white house’s we went before a town square came into view. There were people everywhere! Most were buying flowers, I assumed to give as offerings to Buddha.
I’m thinking “great we must be on the right track – just follow the crowds”! So we did and at the end of “Pai Tau” Street there was a lovely green and white temple gate with two ornate lion figures out the front.
I felt happy and disappointed all at the same time. There were long queues of people (4-5 person’s wide) snaking along and around a path that disappeared and wound its way back up again, the lines seemed to go on forever; not to mention the people waiting for escalators heading to the top of this temple.
I was deflated.
Not knowing what to do, hubby and I watched and waited and were going to turn around and go back to our hotel.
Then, I noticed the little old Chinese man from the metro station and finding some kahuna’s I went up to him and politely asked what was happening and if this was the 10,000 Buddha Monastery?
He remembered me and replied in his broken English that today was a public holiday and that people came to pay their respects at the temple.
He seemed confused about the Monastery, but said “I am meeting my cousin soon and will ask him where the Monastery is”.
Again, long story short, he told me “today is your lucky day, we will meet my cousin and he will show you the way”.
Just for a split-second the paranoid side of me kicked in and I thought “please God don’t let this be a trick and we get kidnapped!” (Fortunately it was unwarranted).
We followed him across the street amongst a throng of people and towards the IFC Building – where sure enough we were introduced to his cousin; who kindly pointed out that we just needed to follow the footpath straight ahead and around the corner.
I was so grateful to them, enthusiastically shook their hands and thanked them in their mother tongue “Xie xie”! (Thank you). I’m proud to say that elicited some smiles and a “very good and my pleasure” from our newly acquainted elderly Chinese friend.
(Sadly, in my excited haste I did not get their names and my apology but thank you both so much dear sirs, your kindness to two visiting strangers will never be forgotten. Blessings to you both!).
Everything was back on track, then in just mere minutes we had found the humble entry to the 10,000 Buddha Monastery.
There it was, an ascending footpath to the top and lined on both sides with golden Buddha’s each with their own defining stance, facial expressions, robes and character. Such an amazing sight to see.
Then the hard work began and the never-ending climb upwards. I, like many other visitors of all ages were simply fascinated and in awe.
On the way up there were nice, compact seating available for people to literally catch their breath. I’m not ashamed to say that I took a break there, after some slight wheezing (boy, I really need to get fit!). It was during this rest break that I was motivated to continue on when I saw an elderly Chinese lady in maybe her early 90’s slowly climbing the steps with the help of a young family member.
Seeing this determined lady both shamed and inspired me to keeping moving these Maori legs as I saw the end and my reward in sight.
We had finally reached the monastery! High five!
My senses were fully alert as I heard the rhythmic chorus of chanting before the Prayer Hall came into view. Then I smelt a light waft of smoke coming from the burning incense; and also the visual explosion of colour as I saw all of the many different immaculately designed figurines and Deities.
In particular, I noticed the beautiful and serene statue of “Quan Yin” in a flowing white robe and who is (as I understand) regarded by the Chinese as the “Goddess of Mercy and Compassion”.
There is such a serenity and a vibrancy when you reach the monastery and even as I climbed all of the many steps, I had an epiphany that perhaps Buddha was teaching me a lesson in both patience and fortitude (and I mean no disrespect when I say that and if anything I say it in truth and with reverence).
It was such an overwhelming spiritual experience for me, as I took in all of the amazing views carved through and perched on top of a hill that over looked the city of Hong Kong.
If you are ever in Hong Kong – I would highly recommend visiting the 10,000 Buddha Monastery as both a cultural, spiritual (and definitely a fitness) experience.
Xie xie nimen!