Our original plan for Day 2 was supposed to be Ngong Ping Village and the much talked about Nan Lian Gardens. Google Nan Lian Gardens and you will understand why it is popular. However, due to time constraints and aching feet, we decided to just go to Ngong Ping Village to have at least a cultural experience. Afterwards, we went to Mongkok to meet with Lolo’s business partners.
Oh, if you want to check out our itinerary for four days and four nights, here is our DIY itinerary.
Ngong Ping Village, Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha), and Ngong Ping Piazza
So Ngong Ping Village is this open-air village that is designed in the old and traditional way. I really thought it was a legit old village, but I later learned that it was created specifically for tourism. A lot of tourists go to visit the Big Buddha, so the Ngong Ping Village was designed to accommodate a large number of people. Because it was made for tourists, it has a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants.
Now there are two ways to go to Ngong Ping Village: one is by cable car or crystal cabin, and one is by bus. Both terminals are located in Tung Chung, which you can reach by MTR. So since we came from Tsim Sha Tsui, we just rode the MTR to Tung Chung Station (from TST, get off at Lai King and switch to Tung Chung line) and had brunch in the mall. The cable car and bus terminal are really near the mall and MTR station–you won’t miss it because there are a lot of signs (just one of the things I love about HK). They are also right beside each other.
We decided to take the bus because 1) it was waaay cheaper (only $17.20 vs $130–and that’s for the standard cabins only) ; and 2) the cable cars were under maintenance! The bus ride to Ngong Ping village from Tung Chung is around 40 minutes.
We first walked around Ngong Ping Village which is really nice. Though it is a bit disappointing that it wasn’t a real village, we still had a lot of fun just going around and checking out the different shops. There’s also the usual Subway and Starbucks in the village as well as big tea house called Li Nong Tea. There is also a “Walking with Buddha” attraction, Motion 360, and Stage 360. One of the shops I liked the most was one with artsy chopsticks. Photos weren’t allowed inside though, but trust me–the designs on those chopsticks were amazing.
Don’t worry, maps are there to guide you, right before you enter Ngong Ping Village or the Piazza! And yes, that is a braille map right there on the right of the bigger map.
It was very windy the day we were there. I saw a lot of photos of the Village and the Buddha with bright blue skies. The good thing was that it wasn’t hot, and it didn’t rain. I liked the drums lined up neatly on both sides of the small bridge near the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car terminal. Our dad was particularly drawn to the “Peace” one, which is so timely and relevant.
Near the drums and the Ngong Ping 360 terminal, is a wide viewing deck where you can (supposedly) get a stunning view of the Big Buddha facing sideways. I have seen photos taken from this angle and they are always majestic. However, due to the weather, we just stared off into fog. We could see his silhouette though, and he peeked once or twice during the few seconds that the fog let up.
Not to worry–we had already made up our mind to walk the grueling steps to see the Big Buddha up close. To go to the Big Buddha, we had to pass by Ngong Ping Piazza first, which I really enjoyed. It had this sort of ancient town feel, with all the grey-white structures coupled with the gloomy weather and fog.
There were lanterns, 40 all in all, lined up on both sides of the pathway. The pathway is called the Bodhi Path. I can only imagine what it must look like at night, and I think it would have looked lovely. There were also some statues, and upon taking a closer look, they were the Twelve Divine Generals–each one representing a time of the day and a Chinese Zodiac sign. Aside from the labels, you’ll be able to identify them because of the animals on their helmets.
Next we came across the Di Tan, or the Earth Temple. It faces the Po Lin Monastery and the stairs going up to the Big Buddha. Again, I’ve seen photos of the Di Tan looking gorgeous against a bright blue sky. But when we there there, it looked sort of eerie, and a bit magical too, because of the wind and the fog.
Here, the rest of the family stayed while Chiara, Bea, and I walked all 268 steps just to see the Big Buddha up close.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The steps were made for leisure walking with breaks in between. It was also pretty windy. At the top, there were a lot of people. Some were praying to the Buddha, but most were tourists trying to take a selfie with him. It was still very foggy up there and really cold. Now, there’s a small museum there with more info about Buddha.
We just stayed up there for around 10 minutes before heading back down. We decided to leave, though I still wanted to check out the Wisdom Path. By that time it was already around 3:00 PM so we decided not to go to Nan Lian Gardens anymore. I really wanted to check out Nan Lian because it looked so gorgeous in photos. But I guess we’ll just have to go back to HK again.
Instead, we went to Mongkok to meet with some of Lolo’s business partners. We planned to go to Mongkok the following day to go shopping as well. Basically we just walked around MOKO Mall, where their stores are, then they took us to a Kam Wah Cafe for some to-die-for pineapple buns and egg tarts! Omg.
We didn’t know that the cafe is really famous. So the pineapple bun doesn’t really have pineapple in it–but its top looks like one, hence the name. It’s crunchy outside but not too hard, and soft inside. They also served it with some butter in the middle and it was SOOOO good. We also had this drink that was a mixture of milk tea and coffee. Interesting taste.
So there you have it, the complete e-tour of our Day 2. Though we weren’t able to go to Nan Lian, we had a lot of fun with Lolo’s business partners who were very fun and accommodating.
Next time I go to HK though, it’s Nan Lian for sure. But I’ll definitely look for Kam Wah Cafe again.