We were all awake by about 6:00 am on our second day in Hong Kong, courtesy of jetlag! This was the morning view from our hotel room – Hong Kong is beautiful!
We got a relaxing start to the day, though, using our complimentary breakfast coupons for a hotel breakfast – it wasn’t as extravagant as the hotel breakfasts in China, but it was still pretty awesome!
We decided to go out to Lantau to see the monastery and Big Buddha there. There was a rather expensive day-tour option, but we figured we’d be able to get there ourselves and didn’t necessarily need for it to take all day. Danny researched the metro, and we opted for that. We could have gotten on at the stop right by our hotel, but then we would have had to transfer lines, and we weren’t sure how complicated that would be, so we decided instead to walk about a mile through the city to another station on the line we’d need to take to get out to Lantau.
Little did we know, that would be a bit more complex than we were anticipating! First we found a travel agency at which our hotel concierge had told us we could buy the cable car tickets, and we purchased them there to avoid the line at the site, and then we continued on our way walking. I actually really enjoyed walking through Hong Kong and seeing more of it. To me the city seems like an interesting mix of China, Europe, and New York City.
At one point we took a “shortcut” through a park – that ended up requiring us to double back and come out through the same entrance through which we’d come into the park. But it was a pleasant detour – we saw some of the older men and women doing their morning exercises and singing and enjoyed seeing the flowers and the turtles.
After that, it turned out to be rather a longer walk than we’d anticipated, though, and it was a walk that took us through a large construction site, and as we walked through the pedestrian path, all the construction workers were coming through and grabbing their lunches and were clearly a bit surprised to see us. When I stopped and asked someone, “Kowloon Station?” she nodded and pointed in the direction we were heading, so we just kept walking, not at all certain of our path!
Honestly, I think there’s great value in having experiences like that – being in a foreign country in which you don’t speak the language, being an ethnic minority, feeling somewhat out of place and knowing that you are, to some extent, at the mercy of strangers. And even in that experience, we knew we were so much less vulnerable than so many people in the world today. We have cash with us and access to more, and we carry US passports. There are millions of people in the world who face truly dangerous situations on a daily basis, and our experience was nothing like that. I still believe there is tremendous value in putting ourselves in situations in which we have experiences outside of those of our normal realm. It was also yet another reminder of the scariness of the situation FangFang is going to be facing so very soon. She’ll be handed over to orphanage officials, who will then hand her over to us, people she’s never met before and about whom she knows next to nothing. I pray we can assure her of our love and her safety early and that she begins to trust that we will care for her well.
Anyway, as we continued walking, we finally saw some signs indicating that we should turn right and began walking toward a large building, which we did with relief. However, when we entered, we saw…this:
It’s an ice skating rink! That was not what we were expecting! However, it turned out that if we walked around the ice skating rink and through the mall to which it was attached, we continued to see signs directing us toward Kowloon Station. We followed those and eventually arrived at the metro station. Phew! It actually was very easy to negotiate, so we bought our tickets out to Tung Chung, and the metro ride itself went very well. Our family dynamic was clearly interesting to some of the older passengers on the train who pointed at Madeleine CaiQun and stared at her and talked amongst themselves. She just stared right back 🙂
Once we got out to Tung Chung, we got in line for the cable cars. Looking at them, the prospect of riding on them is a bit anxiety-producing! It’s about a 25 minute ride up mountains, over water and trees and buildings. We opted not to pay extra for the cable cars with the clear bottoms!
At the top of the mountain, there are some restaurants and shops, and we were all hungry and chose a restaurant at which to eat before continuing any further. We enjoyed some squid ink pasta, teriyaki chicken ramen, fried pumpkin, and spring rolls.
Then we walked farther up toward the Buddhist monastery, encountering some oxen along the way. Honestly, we’re still not really sure about the connection there.
We looked around at the monastery first.
And then we headed up the steps toward the Big Buddha. Danny volunteered to carry Madeleine CaiQun up the stairs in the Tula after she announced that she was far too tired to climb them all! At the top we walked around the outside of the Buddha and went inside the lower level, where there is some history about its construction and about Buddhism and its practice there.
By that time it was getting close to evening, so we made the climb back down the stairs (this time with Mei Mei on my back) and then waited in line for our cable car back down the mountain.
This time we opted to take a metro all the way back to the stop near our hotel – definitely a good choice! By the time we got back, we were all wiped out. We had dinner at the restaurant at our hotel, and Madeleine CaiQun was ready for bed immediately thereafter.
Daniel and Sharon and I then worked on getting our luggage packed up again and making our plans for the next day.
It was a short visit to Hong Kong, only two days, but we had a really good time. We’re still on an early schedule, but we’ve – for the most part – adjusted pretty well to the time change, and it’s nice to have that behind us as we head toward meeting FangFang! And of course, it was great to get to see a part of the world we hadn’t experienced before and enjoy learning more about Hong Kong and its history.