“Life Well Travelled Hong Kong” is a digital journey that brings Hong Kong to life through the eyes of two travelers seeing it for the first time. Read their story here, or download our free interactive eBook. Learn helpful tips. Even book a ticket.
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11:15 am | Sha Tin
431 steps to enlightenment
If heaven is in the sky, logic suggests those who aspire to be there need a way to get there. At the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, that answer comes in the form of a stairway composed of 431 steps set into the side of a mountain. It is overcast the day we visit. Not uncommon for January, but unseasonably cool, creating a surreal context for our adventure as every breath we take hangs in the air, giving the place a supernatural air that heightens our senses. At the top of the path, the main temple emerges almost as if out of thin air: the 10,000 Buddhas Hall. The crowds are small today, giving us time to linger. Words hardly begin to describe the level of detail each one of the Buddhas
was created with. There are over 13,000 miniature ones here, all conceived by one man, the Reverend Yuet Kai. In 1949, he began work at the site. Bit by bit, he and his disciples moved the stones and building materials up the mountain, completing the effort in 1957. When the reverend died in 1967 at the age of 87, his body was lacquered in gold-leaf paint, draped with robes, and put on display behind glass in front of the main altar, where he sits peacefully today. A small stand inside sells incense sticks, which explains the liberal smoke wafting around inside from visitors routinely leaving offerings to mark a wish or respect. You don’t have to be a practicing monk to feel a sense of immense peace when you’re here. Strolling around the grounds, you can turn your camera in almost any direction and get an interesting photo wherever you shoot, which explains the over 200 images we took in this location alone. The elevated vista offers uncompromised views of the surrounding city far below. Taking a moment to take it all in, the sounds of a waterfall, wind in the trees, and the tinkling of wind chimes scattered around the grounds give the place an almost perpetual hum. We could stay here forever. And it turns out some people do. Part of what funds the upkeep of the location are locals who pay to have their ashes saved on-site after they pass. All in all, a great moment of reflection that gets us thinking about where we’ll go next.
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