You might wonder, first of all, “Ngong Ping what?” To answer that question, Ngong Ping is actually a lot of things. It is a skyrail, a plateau, a village, a tea house, a people, an experience. While the 2007 Hong Kong Shopping Festival is still months away, I thought it would be a great idea to explore other things that make Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
The Tian Tan Buddha Statue welcomes travelers with a peaceful smile.
For starters, the Ngong Ping Skyrail is found on Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s so-called “green lung.” It connects Tung Chung Center to Ngong Ping itself. In 20-25 minutes, you’ll gain a sense of what awaits you at the other end. Lush grasslands, a magnificent view of the South China Sea, forested mountains, the North Lantau Country Park and finally, the majestic Tian Tan Buddha Statue– the tallest, outdoor, seated Bronze Buddha in the world. As the cable car reaches the end of the line, your curiosity will have reached full level.
Just a short walk away (and in order to exercise your legs), is Ngong Ping Village. There are numerous retail outlets around to satisfy your shopping needs. Unique and colorful items that range from Chinese embroidered handicrafts to Chinese wooden carvings make for wonderful souvenirs. One place worth stopping by is the Chopstick Gallery. There, you can marvel at more than 400 kinds of Southeast Asia style chopsticks encased in traditional boxes. An interesting stop, to be sure.
When it comes to food, the village pronounces a great mix of western and eastern cuisine. For a more traditional feel, the Pak Loh Garden Restaurant is a good choice. Its signature dishes include goose braised in a special marinade. If you feel like eating something else, there is “My Favorite.” It serves Asian food on the first floor and European on the second floor.
Clearly, contrast works in Ngong Ping. In terms of drinking, there is the much-loved Starbucks coffee shop and the Ngong Ping Tea House. If you fancy a new, cultural experience, I strongly suggest making a beeline at the tea house. Aside from its beautiful surroundings and wide selection of tea and cakes, the Ngong Ping Tea House also provides regular tea ceremonies by certified tea masters–interactive demonstrations where you can soak up more of the local culture.
Evidently, culture is very much important in Ngong Ping. Not only do the people preserve it, they also create ways of sharing it to the rest of the world. Its significance is particularly expressed through the multimedia attractions in Ngong Ping Village.
One of them is “Walking with Buddha,” a light and sound journey into Siddharta Gautama’s life. The story of how he came to be Buddha is creatively narrated through a series of rooms. It ends with a walk called the “Path of Enlightenment” which traces the beginnings of Buddhism and its spread to the rest of the world.
In another, famous Jataka Buddhist stories find themselves in the form of comical shows in the Monkey’s Tale Theater. Computer generated and interactive, the three monkeys will surely amuse guests of all ages.
On the other hand, if you wish to say a prayer, then there’s no harm in climbing up 268 steps to reach the platform where the Tian Tan Buddha Statue sits. 34 meters high, the giant Buddha took 10 years to complete! As I wrote above, it is the world’s tallest, outdoor, seated, bronze Buddha. It’s definitely a must-see for anyone who’s around Lantau Island.