Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weekend Getaway: Ngong Ping 360, Hong Kong (May 2013)

I finally found a willing travel partner to visit Lantau with me using the Ngong Ping 360.  (Most of my friends are not the outdoor adventure type.)  We had a great time and I highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to the Lantau island.

For those of you who are worrying about the safety factor of the cable car, the most recent accident (that I am aware of) happened in January 2012.  Click here.  I also found this article pretty useful.  I believe the company takes the safety of the passengers very seriously and that incident didn't hinder me to ride the cable car.  However, if you are the risk adverse type, you should carefully consider all your options.

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I didn't research much about the different ticket packages offered or the most cost effective way to do this day trip. It was an ad hoc decision and we bought our tickets at a booth next to the cable car after we arrived in Tung Chung.  (We rode the MTR Tung Chung Line from the Hong Kong Station.)

The ticket retails for HKD$200 per adult per the website but I swear I paid less than that... Maybe they increased the price recently?  Regardless, I think this is an excellent deal!  The day pass includes a one-day standard cable car from Tung Chung to Lantau Island (approx. 30 minutes), unlimited bus rides on the New Lantau Bus lines, and a Tai O Boat Excursion!  If you are lucky, you will even see the Chinese White Dolphins (中華白海豚) during your boat excursion!  In addition, it also includes a free dessert voucher to be exchanged in the Ngong Ping Village.

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I assumed the lines weren't too bad (?) on the day of our visit.  Yet, we still waited approximately 45 minutes until it's our turn on the cable car.  (I made sure we all used the restrooms before boarding the cable car...)

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I imagine the view to be even better on a sunny day but then again I am glad it's not sunny.  I can see why people are scared of the cable car accident... it's a long ride!  (5.7 km to be exact!)  It will not be fun if you are trapped in the cable car.  (We shared the car with a family with a baby... good thing s/he did not cry...)

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Just when we wonder if anyone walks the trail below,
we spotted hikers!
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After almost 30 minutes on the cable car,
we finally see the Big Buddha.
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We used our voucher at Honeymoon Desserts
The voucher is for a fixed menu item and must be enjoyed as a "take-out".
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The Ngong Ping Village is very artificial in my opinion so we skimmed through it.
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There were displays of the cable cars of different countries.
This on looks like Ultraman to me
The Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery is one of our main attractions of the day.

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Random shops along the road towards the Big Buddha
all the dogs here are so well-behaved... maybe because they are all under the watch of Buddha?
All the dogs here are so well-tempered.
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Some of them behave more like cats in my opinion!
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the translations are horrid
The translations are classic.
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You can purchase the meal ticket at the Po Lin Monastary at the Big Buddha
We decided to try the "general" menu.  It's all vegetarian dishes.
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The stairs (260+ steps) almost took my breath away.
This buddha faces north, which is not the norm.    Why does it face north?  I had to resolve to Google for an answer:  http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/highlight-attractions/top-10/the-big-buddha-po-lin-monastery.jsp  http://www.plm.org.hk/eng/b
The Big Buddha
Did you know The Big Buddha actually faces North?

To find out more about the history of the Buddha statue, click here and here.
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There is a sign that reads "do not throw coins" in English and Chinese  Guess what everyone is doing?  Throwing coins!
There is a sign that reads "do not throw coins" in English and Chinese.
Guess what everyone is doing?  Throwing coins!
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Po Lin Monastery is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist sanctums in Hong Kong.
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Trying the vegetarian food at the monastery... I wasn't expecting them to offer me the stalks of mushrooms...
I know it's going to be all vegetarian dishes...
... but I wasn't expecting them to offer me the stalks of mushrooms.
The food was good until we find "extra protein" (an insect) in one of the dishes...  Good thing we are not true vegetarians / vegans, otherwise we would have committed murder...  we didn't make a big fuzz about it but the lady who came to collect the dish
Make sure to dig through your food to ensure there is no "extra ingredient" in your dishes
We found a dead insect when we were almost done with our food :/
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Heading to Tai O next!

taking the bus to Tai O
Taking the bus to Tai O
Check the bus schedule to avoid unnecessary wait times.
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Tai O is a fishing town located on the western side of Lantau Island in Hong Kong
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It looks very similar to Sai Kung, Cheung Chau and the other fishing towns in Hong Kong.
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One thing that soon caught our eyes is the dried fish maws (花膠) hanging everywhere!
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I have heard Tai O is famous for such delicacies...
Fish maw is a rich source for collagen.
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As it was getting late, we head straight to the dock to enjoy our boat excursion.
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There is no pre-set sail schedule for the boats.
The leave the dock only when the boat is at capacity.
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The stilt houses are an attraction of Tai O.
a burned down house from just a few days ago
That one was recently burn down.
Interesting since it's located right next to the water.
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These houses remind me a lot of Inle Lake, Myanmar.
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The balcony is for sun-dried fish!
can you spot the cat?
Finally spotted a cat!
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Local fishing
on a clear day, you could see Macau from here
You can see Macau from here on a sunny day.
Didn't see any white dolphins that day but it was a good ride.
You could also see the Chinese White Dolphins if you are lucky.
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Oh well, we saw neither :/
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After our boat excursion, we continued to explore the village.
These puffer fish ornaments are real
These puffer fish ornaments are made from the real fish.
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local snacks
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My friend bought an abalone from here.
She noted it's quite tasty.
grilled fresh seafood - Juita tried the abalone and said it was delicious
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Fish roe and other dried squid and seafood.
You picked what you want and they will grill it for you.
Dried fish roe
We tried the fish roe.  Not bad.
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More cats!
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My friend and I keep pondering about the possible heat dissipation system used in these houses. 
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Trees that look like a catapult.
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More and more cats!
Well, now I believe this is a fishing town.
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Hi kitty!
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Somebody's yard.
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jackfruits!
Jackfruit tree!



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the cats must be very happy here... they roam around and gets to eat fish everyday...
I found this kitty sitting right beneath the dried fish...
It must be glorious to be a cat here.
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He got a bag full of shrimp and other goodies from the sea!
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taking the bus back to the city center - a 40-minutes ride in the hilly roads... i got motion sickness
Time to go home... we are exhausted!

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