A Meeting Of New And Old On Lantau Island
The largest of Hong Kong’s islands, Lantau Island boasts an array of tourist attractions. The history of the island itself stretches back for millennia, with human artifacts from as early as the Neolithic age having been discovered there.
Tai O is a fishing village situated on the western side of Lantau Island. Archaeological digs near the village have revealed artifacts dating back to the Stone Age. However, the only permanent and verifiable human settlement, and one that still remains here, dates back around three centuries. This consists of the pang uks, stilted houses that are built right over the Tai O waterways.
Also known to some as the “Venice of Hong Kong”, Tai O is a bustling tourist spot for both foreigners and visitors from mainland Hong Kong. Rope bridges that were maintained by the women of the village were popular with tourists until they were replaced with less romantic but safer steel pedestrian walkways in 1996.
Visitors to Tai O can pay a small amount to local fishermen to be taken out to sea, in the hopes of seeing the rare Chinese white dolphins.
Po Lin Monastery
This Buddhist monastery was founded in 1906 by monks who were visiting from Jiangsu, and was referred to originally as “The Big Hut”. It got its current name in 1924.
The main temple of the monastery is home to three large bronze statues of the Buddha, representing his past, present and future lives. The giant Buddha statue that draws many visitors to Po Lin is known as the Tian Tan Buddha, or “Big Buddha”, and was installed in 1993 as an extension of the monastery. A popular purchase from the surrounding stalls is wooden bracelets, which are unique to the area.
The name for the statue, Tian Tan, comes from the “Earthly Mount of Tian Tan”, a temple in Beijing on which the seat of the Tian Tan Buddha statue was based. This Buddha statue reaches a staggering height of 34 meters, and sits with his right hand raised – a sign for the removal of affliction.
Hong Kong Disneyland
The Hong Kong Disneyland is the most recent of them all, opening in 2005. It attracts as many as 34,000 visitors per day, and is ranked as the 15th most popular in the world. Stretching across a massive 22.3 hectares, the park is still expanding to allow for three new themed areas, in addition to the existing five.
Visitors young and old will delight in the parades, rides, food and performances on offer in the park – and in the unique experience of watching fireworks over the towering spires of Disney’s famous Sleeping Beauty Castle, while in Hong Kong.
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