Wednesday, December 24
Ok, so you know how Christmas is one of the holiest days for Christians? Well, we decided to spend Christmas Eve day with the Buddhists.
Yes, we got out of bed fairly late, and it was sunny but not too hot (about 19), so we decided that we’d head to Lantau Island to see the big Buddha statue.
We gave the girls a choice between taking a ferry boat and then a bus or taking the subway and then the cable car. The argument that followed almost ruined the outing, but instead we decided we’d get there by ferry and bus, then head home by cable car and subway. With that decided and everyone reasonably happy, we left to visit the monks.
The ferry boat ride was fun and fast. They’ve improved the service over the years and it’s now a pleasant, and almost luxurious, ride (with clean bathrooms on board and everything). After the ferry, we lined up for the bus ride to the other side of Lantau Island. The bus ride is a bit wild, with winding mountainous terrain to cover, but it offers some absolutely breath-taking views, so it’s worth it.
When we got to the top of the mountain, we were reminded of the awesome beauty of the Buddha statue. It’s fantastic and absolutely lovely.
The only not-so-lovely part is the mountain of stairs you have to climb to get up to the statue. Stephanie was tired and hungry by the time we’d arrived, so she whined and complained her way up the steps. Emily did fine, as did I, but it was still a hike. When we got to the top, the whining continued, with the “I’m hungry, why won’t you feed me” chorus in full swing. We ignored her (Mother of the Year, that’s me!!!) and enjoyed the view, taking lots of photos. You can see for many kilometers from the top of the statue and it is glorious.
After we’d had enough beauty, one of the girls decided that for contrast, we’d use Hong Kong’s worst washrooms. I remember from our 2005 visit how bad the washrooms at the Buddha statue were. Suffice it to say that this visit was not disappointing in keeping up with that tradition. They are squat toilets, with no real doors, and an odor that is beyond words.
So, having spent a few moments in washroom hell, we were off to lunch. Yes, for a princely sum, you get your ticket to see inside the Buddha statue plus a set lunch. It’s vegetarian of course as the Buddhists don’t eat meat. The food wasn’t too bad (nor too good if you’re counting) but the kids didn’t eat. By this time they were tired, hungry, and ratty.
You’ll remember that we’d agreed we’d return to Hong Kong island via cable car. This is a new feature that we haven’t seen before. It runs for over 7kms and makes two 90degree turns. It is truly breath-taking, spectacular, and wonderful. There really aren’t words to do it justice.
Funny sidebar: Just before leaving our hotel in the morning I was checking the info regarding the cable car and the first thing I came across was a newspaper article about how the brand new cable car ride had to shut down in December 2007 because one of the cars fell from the cable. Oh yes, just what you want to read before heading out. Needless to say, that was on my mind as I enjoyed the view. “Wow, that’s gorgeous, please don’t fall. Gee, that’s beautiful, please don’t fall. My goodness, look at that, please don’t fall”. Yup, enjoyed every minute of the ride.
You’ll note we’ve been attending a good many (read—too many) large family dinner gatherings. Now don’t get me wrong, the family are wonderful people, and I like a meal as much as (or more than) the average bear, but enough is enough. When Danny told me that we had yet another meal to go to tonight, I put my foot down and said no thanks. The girls didn’t want to go either, so it was agreed that Danny would head to his cousin’s for the large meal and the girls and I would do our own thing.
Check out the photo taken inside the subway station. Swarovski crystal had adorned the entire ceiling, which stretched for a long, long way, with crystal snowflakes. It was absolutely gorgeous.
As you can see by the photo, we were still out wandering Hong Kong after dark. We left Danny part way through the subway ride and he left for Pok Hei’s. The girls and I headed for Central station, then the escalator with a plan in mind for our dinner. They wanted PIZZA. Yeah, I know, pizza in Hong Kong, what am I thinking?? But, frankly, they’ve been really tolerant of a whole lot of meals with entirely too many people, too late at night. So, pizza it was. We stopped halfway up the escalator at a very busy, lovely smelling pizza place and ordered a small cheese pizza for Emily and a small pepperoni pizza for Stephanie. Virtually every restaurant in Hong Kong delivers, for free, so we arrange to have it meet us at the hotel.
By the time we stopped and bought some fresh fruit and walked the rest of the way home, it was late, nearly 7:30, and the pizza arrived shortly after we got home. As you can see in the photos by the huge smiles, the pizza was a massive success and both girls went to bed with full tummies and smiles. I had ordered some Vietnamese food by delivery, which was quite good and really cheap, so we were all happy.
The girls were really excited about Christmas and I had trouble getting them to settle for bed. Finally had them settling down when it happened. My own mini Christmas treat.
Our hotel overlooks a very large Catholic church. Our hotel doesn’t have very well sealed windows. The Catholic church Christmas Eve Mass was so huge that they had set up additional seating, a huge TV screen, and speakers outside. When the choir sang, the beautiful sounds echoed up and I could hear every lovely word. I had the absolute luxury of falling off to sleep on Christmas Eve to the heavenly sounds of all my favourite Christmas music. It was beautiful.
Tomorrow’s the big day. The kids are really hoping that Santa notices that we’re not home and are here in Hong Kong. (Promise, he knows!)