Hiking to the Big Buddha was something G and I always wanted ever since our first visit to the Big Buddha by cable car in 2011. But I did not want to do it with just the two of us so in 2013 we talked Mike and Tom (who were visiting us for the week in Hong Kong) into the hike by promising that we would all get a massage afterwards at The Four Seasons.
I knew the hike would not be easy but I had no idea how tough it was to hike in the hot and humid weather under the midday sun. The toughest part was finding the start of the path to the Big Buddha after we exited the Tung Chung MTR. I found directions off of this website, but unfortunately the swamp she described was filled to make way for a hospital so we got extremely lost. I thought we were never going to find it because nobody we came across knew how to hike to the Big Buddha. But G was determined and pushed to go forward. After 2 and 1/2 hours of wandering around Tung Chung we finally found the start of the hike.
I think this was one hour in of getting lost. We wound up in a small fishing village where we could see the cable cars in the distance. It reminded me of villages in China.
We tried a different path and wound up in the middle of nowhere…
Circled around again and passed a housing estate which was on the way to some temple that was part of a heritage trail. We figured at worst we could hike the heritage trail so we followed that path.
And somehow we found this green bridge which lead to the start of hike as described by RunLily. I was worn out at this point already, we had been walking around in the hot humid weather for the past 2 and 1/2 hours with a 15lb backpack. I had no idea if I was going to make it up the first hill because I knew it was a straight climb up and not a winding path. Note where the cable car station is, that was the first peak we needed to climb followed by 5 more. Much of the trail to the Big Buddha is directly under the cable car path.
Climbing the first hill seemed endless. There was no railing and the path was steep. I was wondering how could I possibly finish this path when there are 6 more after this one? It did not help that the path was not shaded and the sun was quite strong as was the air pollution. I think it took us 40 minutes to get to the top of this hill with numerous stops in between.
But the view was almost worth it if I wasn’t so terrified of falling off the mountain.
Going down the first peak. The wooden stairs were shaky and not good for those with a fear of heights like Tom and I. We were so high up that I kept my eyes away from the cliff side. I was very discouraged at this point but did not want to back out because it was scarier to go back than it was to continue.
I think this is was somewhere around the second peak. The sun was getting to me and I remember I had to lay down for at least 10 minutes before I could proceed. Mike was doing push ups because he wanted to keep his heart rate up. He was kind enough to carry my backpack for the reminder of the hike. This is also where Tom got the inspiration to solider on because Mike was doing push ups while Tom was exhausted. Currently Tom is in amazing shape and bikes all around New York and does bouldering.
Without the extra 15lbs on my back, I was able to continue. It also helped that the trail got easier. Like life, if one works harder in the beginning then it will be smoother passage later.
The Big Buddha is within sight! Only a couple of more hills to go.
We were all pretty tired but excited to be finally eating lunch at 2pm after starting the hike at 8am in the morning! A vegetarian fest at the Po Lin monastery hit the spot. It is nice to go back to a place where the food never changes. I first ate at the Po Lin monastery in 1999, and it is still the same fare today.
I am not a Buddhist but I do respect all religions. I know that there must be some greater power out there, but not sure what. As I grow older, I realize how important it is to do the right thing, help others, and give back to society.
Gand I gazing at the path that took us 3 and 1/2 hours to complete.
Cooling down with a shaved ice at Food Republic inside the Citygate Outlets at Tung Chun. Afterwards we headed to the Four Seasons where we indulged in a 90 minute massage. The massage did wonders for all of us as none of us was sore the next day.
Overall: The hike was amazing! I highly recommend it for those that are in decent shape in cooler weather. I would do this again for sure!
Till next time.