|Big Buddha, Lantau Island|
Every day I read the papers this week, I check first for updates on the political situation in Hong Kong. The protesters’ pro-democracy demonstrations are showing no signs of abating, and the Chinese government and police are showing no signs of giving way to their demands. I’ve been reminded once again what a privilege it is to travel, and to feel a connection with the people and places in the news.
While the world waits to see what will happen next, I can’t help but think of our own trip to Hong Kong, six years ago:
At 15 hours in length, the flight to Hong Kong was the longest we’ve ever taken. And we were experiencing jet lag and general exhaustion after we landed. But there was no discussion about going to bed early – we had to stay up until 8:00 to watch the famous Symphony of Lights show. A combination of coloured lights, search lights and laser beams from both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island created a beautiful light show over Victoria Harbour. Every night, a local radio station plays the accompanying music, and we listened on the radio as we watched the show from our hotel room. The Salisbury YMCA (actually a hotel, not a traditional Y) is located next to the ultra-chic Peninsula, and had the same wonderful views for a fraction of the price.
The following morning, we set off to explore. We took the Star Ferry across the harbour to Hong Kong Island to visit Victoria Peak. The views over the island, Kowloon and the harbour were stunning, which is why this is one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a house. The most expensive houses in the Peak have sold for as much as $80 – $100 million. Not being in the market, we simply enjoyed the view, and the hazy but temperate weather.
Next we travelled to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha. The statue and an adjacent monastery are a focal point of Buddhism in Hong Kong, and a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists from all over the world. The 268 steps to reach the top were well worth the effort to admire the statue from up close and to enjoy a great view.
The six smaller statues that surround the Buddha offer gifts representing charity, morality, patience, enthusiasm, wisdom and meditation.
Hong Kong was our first stop on a trip to China, so part of the adventure was learning to use chopsticks. Whether they were used with two hands to eat noodles, or one hand to eat grilled cheese, there was no end to the amusement they provided. (Note the Orange Fanta in the second photo. For my youngest daughter, one of the joys of travelling was getting to drink orange pop, a treat we don’t usually buy at home. Orange Fanta has helped us cope with jet lag issues on several continents.)
|Kowloon’s Gold Mile (Nathan Road) at night|
As I remember an evening spent walking down the energetic but peaceful Nathan Road, my thoughts go out to the protesters, in hopes that that their request for electoral reform will be heard, and that no lives will be lost.