On the 5th day (22nd Jan 2018) of my Hong Kong trip, we went to Lantau Island to escape the bustling city life.
We took the MTR to Tung Chung station. As most of the passengers alighted at Sunny Bay station, the station before Tung Chung station, to go to Disneyland Hong Kong, the train was practically empty by the time we reached our destination.
After a tolerable wait in the queue at the cable car station, along with many other tourists, we were ferried over the mountains in the cable car towards, “Ngong Ping Village“. The duration of our cable car ride was a little too long for comfort because of how high we were suspended in the air; I was secretly glad we did not opt for the “Crystal Cabin” with the see through flooring. It was another hazy day; we could not see very far, but that only added more charm to scenery.
When we arrived at the extremely touristy “Ngong Ping Village”, we stopped for a little refreshment and as it was beginning to be a really sunny day, Constant Companion RR bought a hat for additional protection against the UV rays. In a local shop in the back alley, away from the main stretch of road, I tried Hong Kong style curry fish balls for the first time. Boy, were those fish balls spicy! It was that kind of spiciness that hits you after you have swallowed your bite, then lingers around to continue burning. I was taken back by the intensity of its heat; it was vastly different with what I had imagined and I am not a fan of spicy food.
Leaving “Ngong Ping Village”, we proceeded to “Po Lin Monastery“. I enjoyed the large empty space (there were cows wandering around) before the main monastery. At the temple, as there were plenty of tourists like us, there was hardly any sense of serenity which is commonly associated with places of worship. Spent about an hour here, admiring the architecture and took some experimental 360° pictures (completely forgotten to take any normal pictures), before heading to another of Lantau Island’s attractions, “Tian Tan Buddha“.
Not unlike the first time I was at “Tian Tan Buddha”, Constant Companion RR and I ascended the long flight of stairs, all 268 steps, to get the top where you have a beautiful view of Lantau Island and South China Sea. Our climb to reach the giant Buddha statue was hindered by the crowds who paused midway to take a picture or two. At the top, it was more photo taking while catching our breath. Again, I was too distracted with the 360° camera that I did not take any conventional pictures here.
After descending down the same flight of 268 steps, RR and I hopped on a local taxi and to the fishing town of Tai-O. The road to Tai-O was narrow and windy which reminded me of Jiufen, Taiwan. On top of that, as the taxi we hired was quite old with aging suspension, the ride was bumpy as well.
Life in Tai-O seems to go by in a slow and laid-back pace. RR and I leisurely wandered around, exploring and snapping pictures. The houses on stilts are one of the attractions of this fishing village; there is a sort of chaotic beauty to the environment. Do be careful not to trespass into a resident’s private property while exploring. There were a lot of locally produced sea food products, most famous being their shrimp paste. Since neither RR nor I do our own cooking, we did not make any purchase.
I thought we would have a scrumptious seafood meal in Tai-O, but since we were not hungry enough, we only did some light snacking. We had a mochi ball filled with grounded peanut and sesame. It was a tasty (I like all things glutinous rice) and messy snack. RR had a bottle of green bean and barley beverage which must have left quite a good impression on RR, as RR made a couple of attempts to search for the same/ similar drink elsewhere throughout our Hong Kong trip.
Lastly, we had a “Tai-O Donut”. By chance, we came upon the shop with a standing sign board outside, advertising the pastry. The shop attendant claimed that it is very famous and can be found nowhere else. Interested, I bought one from the lady. In a brown paper bag, she handled me a hot (fresh out of the fryer), golden pastry coated in sugar. “Tai-O Donut” was quite delightful. Flaky exterior with a soft and chewy interior, the pastry is sweet from the coarse sugar coated outside and has a hint of butter and eggs.
With the sun setting, RR and I caught the bus all the way back to Tung Chung station. The bus ride felt surprisingly short but it was only because we fell asleep for most of the way, exhausted from being on our feet the entire day.
Our day trip to Lantau Island has added a satisfying and different “dimension” to our overall Hong Kong experience.