Friday, June 15, 2018

Back to the Hong Kong Airport (22. May)

My final morning in Hong Kong.
Alas, all good things must come to an end (at least, on this planet).

However, to catch my plane, I had to wake up around 5:30 or so. At least I'd leave when the sun was shining (and radiating its heat) in all its strength into the apartment.

I had a scary moment from late the previous night until that morning. I didn't have enough on my Octopus card for my bus ride directly to the airport. I also didn't have enough cash. I was just short a few dollars if I were to combine my money with my octopus card balance. I had a Visa credit card with me, so I could go to any ATM and get a cash withdrawal--only I forgot my PIN.

I believe I couldn't pay for the bus with my credit card, and a taxi would've been an arm and a leg.

This was bad (and my fault for not being more financially responsible). What to do?
I contacted my Couchsurfing host. I've heard one can still use their octopus card if it has insufficient funds. I wanted to confirm that with him. He did and added that I could take as much money as I needed from a specific drawer. "Don't be shy, just take what you need."


Did I read that correctly?



Alright, I only needed HKD 15 (about USD 2) to complete my bus fare. That's not much at all. But still! My host trusted me enough to take what I needed, knowing I could abuse his generosity (which I never would, but how could he know that?) and probably never see me or hear from me ever again. 

I cannot tell you how humbled I felt by that faith. I took the HKD 15 I needed and left a couple of cookies that were double that value for him and his wife to find when they returned home. GOD bless this family!

Just 1 more look out from the balcony.

The third building of the central tall apartment trio, was where I stayed.

Sunrise, with a ferry setting off towards the East.

So thanks to my host, I made it to the airport without needed to sell any kidneys. I did not, however, expect the airport to be so huge. I arrived in Terminal 1 but flew out via Terminal 2. Just getting to Terminal 2 was an odyssey in itself. Fortunately, when I went through security, it was virtually empty. Also, I made it to my gate with 30 minutes or so to spare. But hey, if you're flying out of Hong Kong--especially Terminal 2--get there early! Give yourselves 2.5 hours minimum to be on the safe side. Three hours is best. If you had very smooth sailing to your gate, you've got time to do some last-minute shopping/napping/bathroom breaks/whatever you do.
But really, Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 2 is no joke!

A bird stuck at my gate in the airport (Terminal 2).

So I made it back to Korea and back to my place. I don't remember what I did the rest of the day. I do know I had to go back to school the next day. Perhaps I passed out. Sounds good to me.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hong Kong Observation Wheel (21. May)

This evening, an opportunity opened to me, and I took it with minimal hesitation.

I went on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel.

Before this time, I've been on a Ferris wheel only twice--and both times were in Japan (Kagoshima Nagasaki). Last time I was in Hong Kong, this wheel was closed. As I was making my way to the ferry (that'd take me back to Discovery Bay), I saw the observation wheel. This time, I noticed it was running. 

I was leaving in the morning. If I wanted to go, it was now or never. I had to check out the price, and that would determine if I'd buy a ticket.

It was HKD 20. I got in line.

I was happy.

That blue light was other-worldly.

Cirque du Soleil was in town! Too bad I just found out.

You noticed I like lines, right?

Victoria Harbour from the Observatory Wheel. Sorry for the lacking quality.

Looking towards Hong Kong Island.

Looking towards Victoria Harbour.

Vertical panorama attempt.

This was the best I could do. Sorry.

After getting off.

This thing is huge.

Like, really huge.

One really cool thing about this wheel: we got to ride it 3 times before we had to get off--and there was a pretty long line too!
Question: is this normal? The 2 previous wheels I've ridden only made 1 revolution. This one made 3. Was this one very generous or were the other ones very not generous?

Wandering the Premises and the Ride Back Down (21. May)

I dared to venture out a bit--but not too far.

I came to the Wisdom Path and followed a trail that went beyond it.

I came to an excellent observatory point and decided to turn back, before going out too far.

Said observatory point

Wisdom Path with explanation plaque--in Chinese.

Po Lin Monastery

Oh, there's a "no-photo" sign by the door. Whoops.

vertical panorama of the outer ceiling.

It doesn't matter whether in Korea or out, I can't get enough of these colors and designs.

A panorama taken between 2 temples.

Dragon pillars, one after another.

All the eyes on and around this guy are freaky.

Lotus chandelier

How cool is this ceiling? Right after this, I saw a "no-photo" sign.
To my credit, I entered through the back door. There were signs to not enter with an umbrella or raincoat, but the signs said nothing of not taking pictures inside. Only when I was inside, did I see one--and even then it was only visible for those who entered through the front.

The front of Po Lin Monastery

A line of Chinese lanterns. 

Can you imagine how intense the incense was?

Looking straight to Buddha through this platform.

A guardian you want to respect.

Pai Lau--from an angle

Looking back to Ngong Ping Piazza, heading to Ngong Ping Village.
With my roundtrip cable car ride in a crystal cabin, I also got a free meal voucher. I had about four places to choose from and a very selected menu from each. I ended up going to the kebab place.

Kebab place regular menu.

My dinner choice. I was not disappointed in the least.

Time to go back down.

View with the airport.

If you ever get an opportunity to go to Hong Kong, you'll do yourself a nasty disservice if you don't go on this cable car ride. You don't have to be Buddhist to enjoy views and sights like these.

Tian Tan Buddha (21. May)

Off the cable car, I walked and talked with a fellow solo-traveler (who took my pictures in the previous post). We parted ways, and I started looking around on my own.

There he is, Tian Tan Buddha.

I was in for a surprise: cows are roaming the area.
Perhaps if I had researched the area, I would've been informed about them. Well...
But I had another surprise: the cows (or this one I saw) was potty-trained! He was standing on the brick/tiled ground. Then he moved over to a tree with some grass and started urinating there. How well-mannered.

The potty-trained cow.

A better angle of said cow.

There were more, and they were quite tame. People petted them--I touched one too, lovely soft leather--and they didn't stir or make a fuss. It just stood there calmly. Much appreciated.

More of the premises--with a cow.

Oh, that looks cool. All decked out for Buddha's birthday the next day.

The staircase up to Buddha behind me.

This was as close as I got.

With my plantar fasciitis, there was no way I was going to go up there. The foot of the stairs was as close as I got.

That looks majestic.

Ngong Ping 360 [Crystal Cabin Cable Car] (21. May)

It's the second day and I'm already to a better start: I woke up at 7:15 (as opposed to 6:15). Yay for an extra hour!

Seeing the houses/Discovery Bay properties from this balcony.

Just look at that sky. I couldn't get enough of this view.

On this day, I went to Ngong Ping 360 to go up the cable car up to Ngong Ping Village.

That sentence didn't sound exciting.

Let me explain:

Ngong Ping 360 has cable cars that travel between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping Village (where Tian Tan Buddha is--one of the largest sitting Buddhas in the world). Ngong Ping cable cars run on a bi-cable ropeway--and at 5.7 km, it's the longest in Asia

Did I mention you could get a cable car with a glass floor?

Can you start to imagine what a great experience this is?

Crossing the water to climb up the hills.

Even I couldn't resist a selfie.

The car was crowded, so I needed to adapt.

Between land and sea. 

Thanks, Debbie, for the photos!

We're moving on up, to the East side!

"Stepping" on land.

View of Hong Kong's international airport--from the cable car!

I dare you to tell me this view isn't worth it.

After clearing the 1st hill.

Lantau Trail just under the cable cars.

"Walking" on the Lantau Trail.

Can you see the Tian Tan Buddha?

Whoa, a tunnel bridge just off the coast! Where's it go?

Closer view of Tian Tan Buddha.

That square is the cable car's shadow.

I'm so glad I took this ride--and even more glad I booked in advance. The non-reservation line was over 100 people long. The line for those who booked in advance was maybe 7 people long. "Whew!" Thanks, Klook!

Next post will be about what I did and saw up at Ngong Ping Village.