Hong Kong: The Ngong Ping Cable Car and The Big Buddha

August 25, 2014
Ngong Ping cable car, Hong Kong

Ngong Ping cable car

You can’t really go to Hong Kong without visiting the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha), so more out of obligation than desire, Poul and I went to see the 34m tall concrete statue on Lantau Island. We took the metro and got off at Tung Chung station. Considering that Hong Kong is made up of a scattered collection of mountainous islands, it’s surprisingly easy to get around. You just get on the metro and *swooosh*- you’re transmogrified under water, over land, to a different island.

We thought we got there early, but the line for the cable car station was already so long, we started considering purchasing the more expensive Crystal Cabin tickets, just to be able to use the VIP entrance. However, we figured that it wouldn’t be too long a wait as the cable cars were dropping people off and letting people in at quite a fast pace.

Cable car, Ngong Ping, Hong Kong

Time enough for a selfie..

Though one thing we forgot to take into our considerations, when estimating the wait, was the fact that a substantial number of the other visitors that day refused to accept to wait their turn. There was a constant pushing and shoving, and you had to be on guard all the time or people would try to sneak in front of you.

A party of 5 split up, and mom + daughter no. 1 pretended they needed to go to the restrooms, but they never went. Instead, they just joined the line further upstream and after a few minutes, the rest of the family walked up to join them at their newfound place in the line.

Hong Kong, Big Buddha, Lantau Island, Ngong Ping

On the way to see Buddha.

In Denmark, even young children are taught to wait their turn, and if you try to skip the line, prepare to be shot at dawn (ok, maybe not, but people get very upset). Through the years, I’ve realized that so is not the case in a lot of other countries.

I know you have to adapt to local customs when you are visiting other countries, but this particular issue is very hard for me to adapt to. I could come up with 100 reasons, why I think people should wait their turn, but I’m sure the ones, who can’t see the point in waiting, when they can actually get away with bypassing the queue, also has a number of reasons to back up their stand.

Cable car Ngong Ping, Hong Kong

Another cable car picture..

Anyway, when we had around 50 persons in front of us, one of the cable car guys suddenly yells something, which sounded like “We need two more persons for this car, who’s in?” and I raised my hand immediately. He sees me, and Poul and I are allowed to walk by everybody else, including the ones, who’ve been skipping the line earlier, and into the car. Ha! What a sweet revenge!

Hong Kong, Big Buddha, Lantau Island, Ngong Ping

Umbrellas for the rain and for the sun.

The ride with the cable car was beautiful and one of the absolute highlights of the trip. Even though it was cloudy and heavy raindrops started pouring down, the view was still spectacular and the ride so long that you had plenty of time to enjoy the view and take a lot of pictures.

Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Tian Tan Buddha

Almost at the top..

After getting off the cable car, we walked through Ngong Ping Village, which is basically just a collection of shops and restaurants, and then we were at the stairs leading up to Big Buddha. The clouds were gone so it was a hot walk to the top and we were happy that we had bought a Starbucks iced latte for the road. The Buddha statue was quite a sight, but it was so crowded up there, that we didn’t stay for long.

Big Buddha/Tian Tan Buddha, Hong Kong

Big Buddha/Tian Tan Buddha

Before we started our walk down, we even went by the souvenir shop. For a while, Poul and I have been talking about buying a Buddha in dark wood or maybe one of those golden Buddha paintings, but inside that souvenir shop, somehow it just felt wrong, turning religious symbols into home décor. I wouldn’t dream of putting up a Jesus painting in my living room (not even a golden one) as I’m not a Christian (I’m not religious at all), so why I even considered purchasing a Buddha painting in the first place, I don’t know, but I can tell you that the Buddha-plans have been irrevocably ditched by now.

Cable car, Ngong Ping, Hong Kong

Ready to go down.

On our way down, the wait for the cable car was much shorter and the haze was gone, so we had a beautiful view all the way. Gone were the memories of the struggles earlier that day, and as we disembarked the cable car, we were almost ready to line up again for one more ride, but we didn’t. In stead we hurried back to Tsim Sha Tsui to meet OutForALongLunch for an evening of cocktails with a view and Chinese hotpot.

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renxkyoko August 25, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I also hate it when people don’t wait in line. It’s good that in the Philippines, people get in line, …. it wasn’t like that years ago, my Mom said. If we don’t see any line, we can be sure we need to get a ” number:, then we wait for that number to be called.

mitziemee August 28, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Nice! I should visit the Philippines:)

outforalonglunch August 26, 2014 at 6:26 am

Same here, I’d never put a Buddha as a home decor. The Buddha ought to be respected!

mitziemee August 28, 2014 at 11:47 pm


wazwu August 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Woah, it looks much more crowded than the times I’ve visited. Glad you had a chance to visit the Big Buddha! It’s quite a sight, and getting up the stairs is a good workout. 😛

Feline Creatures August 28, 2014 at 7:07 am

This is a great travel post! Sadly i’ve never been to these tourist attractions other than kowloon and the shopping district, so it’s great to see a new, nature-friendly view of the city! It reminded me of a fashion shoot I did at a cathedral in a wilderness 20 miles from Chicago – http://felinecreatures.com/2014/08/26/inner-wild-child/ 🙂 – Lena

Lynda August 29, 2014 at 8:29 am

Great photos! Oh man…. cutting in line DRIVES ME NUTS!! I find it happens in Dubai a lot too and it makes my blood boil! One time we were at baskin robbins and my son had propped himself up on the ledge to look at the flavors. A man was so anxious to cut in front of us he actually bumped my son and made him fall and hit his chin on the counter. What grown man pushes a five year old out of the way for an ice cream?! On top of that, when I told the man he just hurt my child and on top of that he was cutting in front of us, he was unapologetic and, with ice cream in hand, says, “well, he can get his ice cream now.” Argh!!! I have no problem telling people I was in line before them – many times they are caught off guard that someone actually called them out and they will back off.

mitziemee September 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

I know, it’s terrible down here. I never get used to it:) I almost got into a fight with a woman trying to cut in front of me at the metro station…


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