A Muslim, A Few Christians and the Big Buddha

 

We’ve been in Hong Kong just about 8 months now. So far we’ve had two guests: the first, a surprise visit in November from my big brother, the second my British friend Hibo whom I met in Abu Dhabi, she left last week.

In just a few days we’ll have our third guest – we’re seriously considering putting our third bedroom on Airbnb!

If you’re a fellow expat you know when you have guests in town you automatically become a city tour guide (my husband LOVES this part). One of the places we took Hibo was the Big Buddha. Instead of hiking to the Big Buddha, we decided to take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car.NP360_AttGuide_E_Aug2105_B-v2-1

Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car

We bought our tickets in advance, however the wait in line was still around 25-30 minutes. The Cable Car was a pretty cool experience, Levi loved it!  Next time we’ll definitely buy the season pass as it was a family day trip that we’ll more-than-likely do again. Not to mention, we’re only about a 15-20 minute walk to the Cable Car.

We shared the Cable Car with a couple from Australia and a family from Germany. They were kind and respectful – so I personally wouldn’t spend the money on the private cable car. We forgot to time the ride, but it seemed no more than a 20 minutes from departure to arrival. It wasn’t the clearest day, but the views were still quite beautiful. The Cable Car has several air pockets for fresh air – for me it was a bit windy so I was a little cold. I’m sure on hot and humid days those air pockets are awesome!

Ngong Ping Village

When we arrived at the Ngong Ping Village you immediately walk through a gift shop (as expected). We took a few photos and right away looked for somewhere to eat! There is a large outdoor open seating area where you can order your food from a variety of restaurants. We had lunch and people watched!

We happened to be there while a famous Singer and DJ, Albert Au had some sort of recording. In true Hibo fashion – she somehow got his attention and he ventured over to her for a little singing duo 🙂

 

As we walked toward the Po Lin Monastery, I noticed how calm and quiet it was. There were people everyone but it was still quite peaceful. We ran into a few cows, which are considered sacred. They roamed freely and there were plenty of signs reminding tourists “DO NOT FEED THE COWS”.

Funny enough, there was one cow that found his way to a very sweet lady and attempted to stick its head in her purse :). She shared later that it must have smelled an apple she stashed away.

Po Lin Monastery

By this time we were close to the Monastery, Levi was thoroughly enjoying himself – running around, laughing and playing as if he was at a park. My husband grabbed him, told him to quiet down and to be respectful of the people praying.  Our curious and observant 4 year old then took notice of the people praying and offering sacrifices. He began to ask my husband a slew of questions.

Hibo and I looked at each other with a slight grin and it was in that moment that I realized we were visiting more than just a tourist location, we were in a religious location for many and a place that would require an explanation for our son.

As a Christian family, with our Muslim friend, surrounded around Buddhist worshippers Levi asked, “Why does God let them worship the Buddha?”

My response, “well that’s the beauty of God Levi, He’s given everyone free will – to worship and believe whomever or whatever they want”.

His reply, in the courtyard of the Monastery – which was quite loud but warmed my heart, “well I worship Jesus, Jesus is my King!”

He looks to Hibo for approval and she offers him a big smile and says, “Well alright Levi!”

Part of raising a third culture kid is teaching him to LOVE!

We have Muslim friends, Atheist friends, etc. so as a third culture kid he’ll more than likely make plenty of Buddhist friends in Hong Kong. Visiting the Big Buddha was a surprising, yet wonderful opportunity to teach our son tolerance, respect and most importantly, LOVE.

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Big Buddha

Everything about the trip so far was very kid friendly! However, once you venture to the Big Buddha you’ll be greeted by stairs – like…a lot of stairs. This was fine for a 4 year old. It is not stroller friendly, and any kids younger than 3 will more than likely ask to be carried after the first 30 steps or so. Once you get to the top the views are beautiful and the ambiance is calming. Everyone has a camera out and I’m positive I photobombed at least 10-15 different people. Because it was so busy we decided to head down after about 15 minutes or so.

Tai O

We walked down from the Big Buddha and headed towards the bus station to grab the bus to Tai O – a fishing village. The bus from the Big Buddha to Tai O was about 15-20 minutes and by the time we got there we were all pretty tired.

We walked around the village, Levi was promised Chinese donuts so we grabbed a few then headed back to the bus station. We stayed in Tai O maybe 30 minutes as Hibo had a flight in a few hours. The ride back to the MTR was about 30-40 minutes. Levi fell asleep. The views during the ride back are quite beautiful, however it’s really difficult capturing a photo or video on the bus.

I look forward to going back to Tai O as I noticed a few places that I’d like to visit on a day when I have more time to spare.

For families, you can take a boat ride around the village houses and do a little dolphin viewing – it’s a total of around 20-25 minutes and you’ll have some great photo opportunities.

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Family Friendly

Overall, I’d say it was a great family day trip!

A few tips for families:

Bathrooms Restrooms Toilets: Cable Car location – the bathrooms were clean and easy to find. Ngong Ping Village – the bathrooms were clean, near the restaurants. Big Buddha – I didn’t go in, but my husband took Levi and he said they were ok. I’d suggest using the restroom near the restaurants. Tai O – I’ve never used the bathroom in Tai O but I’ve seen signs so I’m sure they have them.

Food: Ngong Ping Village – Next time I’ll pack a lunch and snacks for this trip. The food could be a lot better considering the restaurants are in a prime location. It was almost as if they know you have no other choice so they slightly slack off. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great.

With mixed feelings I’ll share that there is a Starbucks in the village. It was great for me as I wanted coffee but at the same time – it gets slightly annoying to see a Starbucks in a location so secluded – would have been cool if they had a local cafe instead.

There is a 711 for cold drinks, water and small snacks.

Tai O – I’ve never eaten in Tai O, I have grabbed a bottle of water. I would suggest ONLY buying water or drinks from one of the little stores and not within the village. My husband once bought a bottle of water and when he tasted it was basically sea water. So be careful!

There are a few places to eat in Tai O, next time I’ll check a few out and post about it!

Activities: Ngong Ping Village – Around the time we were walking near the Monastery Levi began to get quite bored. So I told him to walk around and see how many coins he could find in the dragon’s mouth. This search lasted long enough for my husband to continue taking photos of the Monastery. We could have also played “I spy” if he was still bored. But he was quite entertained most of the time.

Tai O – This is an area you need to always have your child’s hand! Between bikes, carts, cats, dogs, women cleaning fish, construction areas and unstable bridges it’s not the safest place to let your kids roam freely.

 

Some photos are courtesy of my hubby:  https://www.instagram.com/dnathanielphotography/

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