Monday, September 5, 2011

Last Weekend...

And so ordinary life begins. Each weekday, the bus picks the boys up in the morning at 8:05 and then drops them off around 5:00. That leaves us with a full day to do work, but not much time to explore during the week. Thus, weekends will now become prime Hong Kong exploring time, which we did to full effect this weekend. Saturday, we headed out to Kowloon; we had lunch at an American-style restaurant (mmmm… salads) and then went to the Hong Kong Museum of History. The key exhibition at the museum is the Hong Kong Story, which details the history of Hong Kong from pre-historic times right up to the hand-over to China. It’s really well done, with all sorts of life size replicas the boys could explore. We all appreciated the fact that the short movies throughout the museum were shown in all three languages, so we were able to catch many of them. The boys now have a detailed understanding of the Opium Wars (thanks to a short video) that probably rivals that of most Americans.

The highlight of the weekend, in my opinion, was the trip on Sunday to the Big Bad Buddha (BBB), as the boys like to call him. BBB is located at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. To get there, we took a cable car accessible off the MTR. It was just like taking the tram at Stowe, except it was way warmer and we didn’t have to wrangle our skis while in ski boots.

After an exhilarating ride over the mountains, with views of the South China Sea, we arrived at a Ngong Ping, the tourist trap village at the exit of the cable cars.* We walked up to the monastery for a quick lunch (and decided that while Buddhist monasteries have the advantage of being all vegetarian, they also have the disadvantage of serving pretty plain food. Probably related to the drive to eliminate all wants. Thus, hitting up any more Buddhist monastery restaurants is not high on our list) and then headed out to see BBB. Pictures can’t really capture how amazing this Buddha statue is. Constructed relatively recently (1993), it’s massive (35m) and dominates the beautiful surroundings. At the same time, one can’t help but feel a sense of peace in contemplating it.

After some quick pictures in front of statues representing the boys’ Chinese zodiac signs (Quin was quite disappointed that the statue for his sign was holding a conch shell as a weapon), we hit the tourist trap village.

We procured cheap wooden swords for the boys; upon removing the sheaths after purchase, we learned that they were so sharp that they could have been used as actual swords to inflict bodily harm. Whoops. As for me, I found exactly what I was looking for: a small white replica of BBB which now sits in our bedroom. While he doesn’t produce the same feelings of serenity that the actual statue did, I’m hoping that in looking at him, I feel less like yelling “Serenity Now” a la Frank Costanza every time the boys are driving me nuts. One can hope right?

* Throughout the cable car ride up, the boys insisted on talking incessantly about what would happen if the cable car crashed. If we crashed over the sea, would there be sharks? Who would the sharks eat first? Would it be better to crash in the sea and be eaten by sharks or in the mountain and smashed to bits? And so on. Try as we might, we couldn’t get them to stop. I felt bad for the other occupants of the car (some of whom spoke English); I sincerely hope that none of them had a phobia around riding in the cable car as the 20 minute journey with our kids must have made it far worse.


  1. Missed the blog for a few days but loved hearing about school and life there last night. And definitely glad you sanded down those swords. We thought of an activity! How about jumping rope? Outside of course! Love you.
    Dad and Judy

  2. So funny about the swords. You and Doug have such a decriptive way with words - makes me feel as if I am there with you and learning all about your day to day life is a very comforting feeling.

    Hope your statue of BBB continues to afford you peace and tranquility.

    Aunt Trish

  3. Dear BBB lovers--

    Thanks for your ready updates. Love hearing all about your adventures. That sure is a LONG school day. I'll be sure and mention that to a few children I know and love. Also, I'll post some new pics of the Dartmouth Community Park so you can see it's beauty. Missing you all!

    Lara & the Stone boys!

  4. I could use the BBB right now for some peace and tranquility but must say reading your blogs makes me feel like I am there with you all.

    love the story about the swords and can just imagine the ride with the boys, i must say I would probably not want to ride back with them!

    Aunt Cheryl

  5. Glad you guys are having a good time... I couldn't help but think the same things as the boys when looking at your picture (well less the sharks). Brave adventure!

    Thank you for keeping us updated.

    Gayle and Tucker