The final visitor to Hotel Soloway for the Winter season was an incredibly special one. Our first non-obligated family member! A friend who had actually invested in coming to visit us, purely because she is fabulous! (And she needed somewhere to break her incredibly long journey to New Zealand where she was heading after Hong Kong!).
This friend is one of my special bunch of University girls. Next year we will celebrate the fact that 20 years ago five girls were thrown together in Halls of Residence in Leeds, from all walks of life and different backgrounds and quickly formed what has turned out to be a life-long friendship. Four weddings and nine children later, we still meet up at least once a year, sometimes en famille but mostly just the girls and it always has been and always will be very special. Actually, scrap that, there must be some kind of mistake here as I am not a person who started University nearly 20 years ago … am I?… let me recalculate … oh.
One of the trips that my friend really wanted to do from the long list of options I gave her was to visit the Big Buddha. I hadn’t actually done this trip myself yet so was really looking forward to it. It was a half hour train ride to get there, then there is a spectacular 25-ish minute cable car ride that takes you high up in the hills to Ngong Ping Village, to the site of the Buddha. I had seen this cable car from afar many times as it’s really near the airport and also visible from one of the places where Joshua regularly has football tournaments.
We arrived at the train station and were heading up the escalator to make our way to the cable car terminal when we heard the announcement that told us that the cable car was closed that day, JUST THAT ONE DAY, for annual maintenance!! As they say in the business – OMG! I was so gutted, mainly for my friend as this was her one chance to do this. I’m sure if I’d checked the website or something I’d have seen that information before we left but why would I have done? There wasn’t anything I needed to find out, I didn’t think!
Luckily we quickly found out that there is a bus that also runs up to the Big Buddha so we joined the queue for that. It was actually a spectacular journey winding up, then down, then up again as we made our way there. Not as spectacular as the cable car, I’m sure, but we had to move on from that disappointment!
At the top, the Buddha itself is truly a sight to behold. It is simply enormous, and looks even more spectacular in its hilltop setting at the top of a further 202 steps that we had to climb to reach the top. Everything in Hong Kong involves steep climbs! But this particular climb was worth it. It was amazing and in the end, the lack of cable car experience didn’t matter.
We did have a giggle at the fact that Hong Kongers claim this as the world’s largest Buddha but they need a long string of qualifiers to really stake that claim. It is the world’s largest Buddha that is seated, located outdoors, and is made of bronze. OK folks, well done, you can have that one!