Another unexpectedly great day in Hong Kong. After an enticing class about food and a feast of a lunch at a nearby Tea House, we walked a bit around the wet market in Tuen Mun (I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many living creatures for sale in my life), and were given the rest of the afternoon off. We’ve hit that weird point in the trip where most of the easily accessible “must-do’s” we’ve done, and we’ve already wandered around the local area enough that more aimless wandering feels sort of aimless. The “bucket list” items that are left are generally further afield, and not the sorts of things you’d ordinarily go do on a whim at two o’clock in the afternoon. Today, though, that’s just what we did, hopping on the MTR and traveling for a good hour to Lantau island, home of the Tian Tan Buddha, the largest outdoor bronze Buddha sculpture in the world. From there, we rode the tram for another half hour over the verdant peaks and crystal inlets of Lantau (I’ve never been to Hawaii, but that’s how I imagine it) to the small “village” (really a row of gifts shops and food vendors) near the base of the Buddha. Standing close and staring up at the colossal sculpture with its intricate detail is an experience, but the most striking to me was actually the approach. After swinging up and down a good number of slopes in our little gondola car, watching the tip of the statue’s head peek over the ridge was weirdly exhilarating. When the entire thing came into view, jutting up from the top of the hill in an otherwise monolithically green landscape, it lent a sense of amazement and discovery, especially after such a long journey to get there. Although I know that the Buddha is visited by hundreds of people a day, and that most of the tourist infrastructure on the island is built around it, that didn’t dampen the fluttering, could-this-be-real feeling that we got when we finally spotted it on the horizon. Just as with Ap Lei Chau (although perhaps less severely), some amount of labor and uncertainty made the final reveal much, much sweeter, and I hope that in my final week here I’m able to pursue similar experiences.

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