Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Travel: HK Day #3 - The Ngong Ping 360 (昂坪360) Experience and Ngong Ping Village

After charging ourselves in the morning with dim sum at Lin Heung Kui in Sheung Wan, we went on our way to Hong Kong MTR station and do a bit of walking after all that food.

Construction or renovation using bamboo sticks.

As we walked along Queen's Road Central, we soon reached the Mid-Level Escalators. The Mid-Levels Escalators seem like a pretty nifty thing to have in the hilly Central, but in the summer humidity, doesn't make for much of a pleasant ride either. We didn't go on it that day, but instead turned the other way to walk through the tunnel which led us to...

...IFC! IFC actually consists of the two International Finance Centre (IFC) skyscrapers, IFC Mall, and the Four Seasons Hotel. IFC Mall consists of four storeys and big brands like Burberry, Hugo Boss, Prada and Tom Ford can be found there.

We had a quick look-see around the mall (read: use their toilets), and then took the escalator down to get to the Hong Kong MTR station.

Hong Kong MTR Station is where you would want to go to take the train to take the Tung Chung line. The more popular stops for us tourists along that line would be the Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong Disneyland, and our destinations for the day, Ngong Ping 360 昂坪360 & Citygate Outlets!

Because the line takes you from Hong Kong Island to Lantau Island, you'll get views of the sea and maritime container terminals whizzing by to occupy you during the ride.

(I brave impatient Hong Kong commuters by stopping midwalk to snap picture of each MTR station name we're at which results in many annoyed tsks from old uncles :S)

A quick half hour later, we arrived at the end of the line -- Tung Chung MTR station!

As it was Mid-Autumn Festival and also a public holiday in Hong Kong, there were throngs of people with the same bright idea as us -- heading towards the Ngong Ping 360 *gulp*

The Ngong Ping 360 is a 5.7km long cable car ride in Lantau Island connecting Tung Chung to Ngong Ping in the hills above, which is home to the gigantic Tian Tan Buddha, Ngong Ping Village and the Po Lin Monastery.

The queue was pretty long; I'd say we waited for about 40 minutes which was pretty unbearable in the hot summer heat. 

Making the rest take a picture because I needed to keep myself occupied :p
What made things worse was that we kept on seeing people going towards the Express Lane; these were the clever ones who had pre-bought their tickets online and now only needed to breeze past the line to collect their tickets. Gah. Definitely make sure you get your tickets online to avoid the queue, if you have a concrete plan to go on the Ngong Ping 360.

We finally made it to the counters!
There are quite a number of different packages and prices available because of the variety of attractions at the Ngong Ping Village like the Walking with Buddha trail, the Monkey's Tale Theatre, etc.

However, the main highlight of going to Ngong Ping for us was the cable car ride! There are 2 types of cable cars; one normal type and another called the crystal cabin, gondolas that boast a glass panel on the floor so passengers can see all the way down to the bottom.

Since we really only wanted to sit on in the crystal cabin, it was HKD 169 for a two-way ride. If you're on a budget but want to experience the crystal cabin, you can also opt for one way normal, one way crystal cabin.

One of the normal cabins.

The cable car ride was exceptionally enjoyable due to the lovely views of Lantau Island it provided.

As we whizzed past in the heat (at this point, we were all wondering if taking a glass cabin made the heat even worse), we were treated to panoramic sights of surrounding hilly terrains, the South China Sea and even the Hong Kong International Airport (bottom right picture)! 

As you get nearer to Ngong Ping, in the last 5 minutes or so of the cable car ride, the famous Tian Tan Buddha bronze statue comes into view.

The first thing Adam we did upon arriving at the cable car terminal in Ngong Ping was to make a beeline for the ice cream booth. Rich, creamy and full of cookie bits, the Cookies N' Cream Dreyer's ice cream gave us some motivation to leave the shade.

Ngong Ping Village! We were blessed with the bluest of blue skies on our visit to Ngong Ping Village and while that made for the most picturesque experience, I'm sure it also made for one of the hottest due to the lack of clouds. 

Ngong Ping Village is actually set on a 1.5 hectare site on Lantau Island and is a cultural-themed village that has been planned and designed to specially reflect the culture of the Ngong Ping area for those tourists that do not venture deeper into Lantau Island.

Despite its touristy nature, I genuinely did enjoy the architecture: quaint little shops and archways, bridges and stone cobbled paths. Felt like a Little China of some sort.

Plus, there were tons of gaily coloured tanglungs (lanterns) everywhere in conjunction with the Mid Autumn festivities. :D

Way too hot. Whoever told us that September was already autumn was seriously misguided.
Seeking solace in shaded sanctuaries.
We took our time slowly wandering through Ngong Ping Village that afternoon, which housed many modern F&B (Asian fare, kebabs and even Subway and Starbucks present) and souvenir outlets within those quaint buildings; even taking time to avoid the sun in a small corner of shrubs like the lazy people we were :p

Spot Adam :p
Further up was the Bodhi Wishing Shrine, beneath the "Tree of Awakening".

Many came from afar to hang their wishes on the shrine. I didn't make a wish, but it was a very pretty sight, with the wood pieces gently swinging in the wind. The wood can be purchased at nearly any souvenir shop in Ngong Ping Village, but they don't come cheap although I'm sure it's a small price to pay for those who want to make their wishes. ;)

I saw a shop selling ping tong wu lou (冰糖葫芦, candied fruits on a skewer, usually candied haw) and excitedly went to buy it after years of seeing them in Chinese serials on TV. Unfortunately, it was quite a letdown, it was extremely frozen and hard and much too sweet. Is that what it really tastes like? :(

Wish I could locate that couple in the picture and give this to them :)
Moving along, we crossed the village arch leading us to the Ngong Ping Piazza which would lead us towards the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. None of us really wanted to walk on anymore, so we decided venture a little off the path to this coffee shop that caught our attention.

Well, with all the bright signs it was a little hard not to catch our attention, but what really lured us in was the promise of some shan shui tau foo fah (山水豆腐花, loosely translated into Mountain Water Soy Bean Pudding which is supposed to be good in Lantau Island)

At HKD 10 a bowl, this cold treat was a wonderful thing to have in the summer heat. The tau foo fah was soft and silky and the ginger syrup light and pleasant, not overpowered with ginger.

Some sugar (that looks suspiciously like cheddar cheese) is available for you to add into your bowl of tau foo fah in case it's not sweet enough for your taste buds.

After the tau foo fah, we decided to call it a day and walked back through the charming Ngong Ping Village for our cable car ride down.

Of course, what's a crystal car cabin ride without some shots of the glass floor! It really was quite a sight to behold, we could make out fishermen near the shore as we passed, and even hikers on their way up to Ngong Ping, all looking like ants :D

And of course... we just had to sit on it as well. Hee.

Adam over the hills, and me over the seas. :)
Adam is actually afraid of heights, so to get him onto the glass was quite a feat in itself. He might look calm, but he was actually very nervous!

Mel and Bryan have a seat.
I'm not sure if we were allowed to do that... but hey, how can you resist? (The glass bottom will feel very cool under your behinds by the way :p)

With a final group shot, thanks to the couple in our crystal cabin whom hopefully didn't think us strange from all that sitting on the floor, we bid goodbye to the Ngong Ping 360 Experience.

I wouldn't suggest the Ngong Ping 360 if your stay in Hong Kong is short as the travelling time is long and there are more important 'must-see' sights in Hong Kong than Ngong Ping, but it's recommended if you have the time and like a slow paced afternoon browsing shops and admiring tourist sights. Definitely go for the crystal cabin, and attempt to avoid visiting during public holidays and summer. :)


Ngong Ping 360 昂坪360 | Site
Lantau Island

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