hongkong o1 :: breathtaking welcome

12:58 PM sians 0 Comments

day o1. 
the calming wonder of ngong ping. 

{ day o1 } ngong ping 360 • ngong ping village • tian tan buddha • poh lin monastery • wisdom path

i was psyched to do hong kong.


mid-november - taking the first kul-hkg flight out and after a relatively short wait for custom clearance (about 15 minutes), it was my first real taste of hong kong. 

[#protips] :: arrival

o1. hong kong octopus card: works as a prepaid convenience card for travel (for mtr, busses, etc), shop, dining and fun - purchasable from the kiosk to the right of the the tourism board information desk as you exit the custom checks or at the airport express train station connected to the airport at terminal two. card value is reloadable at any mtr customer service counters or even 7-11.

o2. data plan: after exiting the airport's arrival hall, there will be 1O1O shop to the right to get your phone data plan. if that's what you're going for , it;s a good idea get that out of the way first since the wait could take a pretty long time. (it took me almost 20-30 minutes) it is affordable (~ hkd 100) to stay connected to the internet + awesome up-to-date directions + insta uploads! ;)

o3. trip planning: approximately 20 minutes away by bus #s1 from the airport, the ngong ping cable car lower terminal (just across from the nearest mtr - tung chung station).. try planning out your trip to tian tan buddha either as the first item on your travel itinerary after arrival or the last before departure to save on travel time. 

o4. left baggage : located on level 3, terminal 2. the hourly rates are fixed by dimensions (no issues with carry on sizes) and and weight limited to 30 kg. passports are required for storage and pick up and the payment is done during pick up.

we quickened our pace since it was almost 2pm before we embarked on our 15 minute bus journey to ngong ping 360 cable car to get us all the way up the ngong ping village and our first destination.

the queue was long and we dreaded the wait but much to our surprise, it didn't take us long to get to the front of the line for tickets with the many available ticket counters. there is two options of cabins - standard and crystal (check #protip below!) you can pick for the 20 minute ride to get to the top of the plateau. 

ngong ping plateau is the home of the largest seated buddha statue in the world made out of bronze that stands sits tall at 34 meters high. it starts with ngong ping village, to the path that is flanked on both sides by the 12 divine generals that also leads to tian tan buddha as well as poh lin monastery and wisdom path.

ngong ping village has a collection of petite eateries, souvenir kiosks and attraction booths with a hint of culture.

despite our plans to have the iconic dishes here in ngong ping (read below!), we were so hungry that we picked up a quick snack at 7-11 and thus was our first meal in hong kong (somewhat a /facepalm moment, i know ><) interesting find was a lemon coca-cola and the beginning of {mh}'s love for cream soda.

--- {AWESOMESAUCE travel snippets of day o1} ---

one | the crystal cable car cabin where the bottom of the cabin is made out of glass -- imo, a MUST TRY. it puts the 360 into the ngong ping 360, a wonderful preview of the what's to come with beautiful views of sea and greeneries as we journeyed up to the upper terminal station in 20 minutes

[#protip] go 1+1 :: standard &crystal round trip cable car (hkd 210) to experience both. for those with fear of heights, crystal cabin may not be the way to go. the choice is yours - to ascent or descend via the crystal cabin. if you are planning to leave when the village closes, since the queue for the standard cabin could be really long (it took us almost an hour), picking the crystal cabin for the return trip might be a better option but make sure that there is still light out so you can experience the fullness of the 360 view.

two |  mountain water soybean pudding 'san sui tau fu fah' is another MUST TRY. there were many shops along the street after the village arch, selling this signature dessert as well as other street food selections. the use of the mountain water results to a smoother, lighter and cleaner, purer flavor in the soybean pudding (hkd 12) but i craved for some extra sweetness in the ginger-y sugar syrup.

it was also our first tasting of curry fish balls 'curry yu dan' (hkd 10 for 5 pieces), which is a beloved hong kong street snack - had a slight spicy bite with the savory fish ball.

our favorite was the sweet black sesame 'hak zi ma wu' (hkd 12), which was thick and full of the nutty flavor mingled with just enough sweetness without bitter aftertaste on the tongue. lovely.

[#protip] the recommended tau fu far shop was past the shop we tried, slightly further along down the path just before the path of the 12 divine generals, it was already closing when we got there. 

three | take time to explore the souvenir kiosks in the village to discover some interesting finds. and if you purchase more than hkd150 at ngong ping souviner shops, you can redeem a wishing card to make a wish at the bodhi wishing shrine. :)

four | experience & soak in the moment. starting by traversing from ngong ping village and as our walk continued up the stairs of 260 steps towards the tian tan buddha, the ambiance shifted from mild merriment easing into a calming peace that seeped into the being.

awestruck, i smiled with a sigh of relief at the the breathtaking view and the magnificent architecture.

since we spent the rest of the evening until the village closing hour, the amazing topographic silhouette against the dusky horizon of sunset bade farewells as we headed back.

five | a walk around the poh lin monastery - a chance to appreciate the intricate and colorful architecture details. oh and interestingly, we spotted monks with tags which we suspect were were visiting monks for possibly an event at the monastery.

since we had only had a few hours to make do with, there were a few items i have yet to put a check on my bucket list

one gazing and pondering upon along the wisdom path
two pre-fixed vegetarian meals where the meal tickets can be found at the bottom of the stairs towards tian tan buddha
three if you are also interested in visiting the lantau island situated not too far from ngong ping, there are day tour packages that includes ngong ping village - tian tan buddha - wisdom path - poh lin monastery - lantau island.

once we returned to the airport via the same bus (#s1), we picked up our luggages. our initial plan was to take the cheaper option of a21 cityflyer (~hkd33) but due to the change of route because of the umbrella movement, the heavy traffic at that hour and also we were exhausted by then, we saw ourselves headed towards the more expensive airport express train (hkd91) instead.

it took approximately 20 minutes to get to kowloon stop where we scuttled off to find the free shuttle. there were staff at the free shuttle kiosk, who directed us to the correct bus that can get us closest to our destination. most of the complimentary shuttles ferry people to selected hotels. from the closest hotel stop, we still needed to take a train from yau ma tei mtr to transit to mongkok station and walk a short distance to finally get to our accommodation.

it was almost 9pm when we checked in to leave our luggages in our room before we filled our starving bellies at our first real cha chaan teng, kam wah restaurant for dinner, which thankfully was still opened.

here endeth the breathtaking welcome and an interesting introduction to a different side of hong kong i didn't expect. day o2 will continue to tell the tale of my hong kong travelogue, and that will soon be underway! :)

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

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p.s. will be working on my new year's entry later today! :) please wait for it! 
and of course, my annual top eats series. 

but while that is in progress....

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