Well, its been almost ten years since I last left the USA. Today, I find myself waking up in a city over 1000 miles from home, almost eight million people, and surrounded by a culture completely different from my own. This isn’t like my times in Australia, Spain, or Ireland. Their little slivers of conversations would make sense in the back of my mind. Now, it is completely foreign. Loud shouts of Cantonese, Manderin, Thai, and Indonesian are everywhere. The city is beautiful and the people are always moving. Breathing, busy with the things that occupy the minds of all.
Lantau Island and the New Territories is an intermix of nature, city, and reclamation. For the past decade, large city works have pushed the city to reclaim the sea and create areas of bridged networks and ferry systems. 40-50 story apartment high rises and schools now stand were the South China Sea once washed up. Inside this concrete complex is a bustling bus terminal and shopping center for all of those about to depart at the airport. Walking through the Citygate Shopping outlet was an interesting mix of old and new. Seeing Burberry, Coach, Calvin Klein, is all reminiscent of back home and the high-end shopping malls of so many places. However, on the bottom floor is the home of the original market. This “wet” market is an Asian staple apparently. Live fish, frogs, and snakes next to butcher stalls, flowers sellers, and a hardware shop. Fresh fruit from China, Indonesia, and the Americas. Pieces of Dragon Fruit and other varieties are seen in a stall of produce. The smell was the most interesting thing, because it was aout this time that I could tell a different and it stayed with me for the rest of the day. Uniquely different and not that pleasant. 🙂
Later we were treated to a dim sum lunch. Simplly put, smells good, looks diffeent, and not easy on the digestion. The fried wontons with chicken and pork meat covered with a sweet and sour sauce was my favorite. Very different from the chop souy style American Chinese food I’m use to. After that we traveled to the south western edge of Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha. From the area below, it is a majestic structure and very interesting. This is the first Buddha I have ever seen outside of the United State. The bronze exterior was intentional oxidized to a maintained patina.
However, upon closer look, one is largely underwhelmed by the site as at every turn their was a purchasing stand and seller of “unique” prayer beads. The temptation to purchase is merely a little tug and easily subdued. I will say that the original Buddhist temple was incrediblly beautiful the scroll work and carvings. That was far more impressive than the Buddha. While we were there a dignatary from China arrived and was given access to the temple. Different place, but things always remain the same. I will say that the construction for expansion of the worship center was a bit annoying, flecks of concrete hit me as we were walking away to eat our complimentary vegetarian dim sum. It was nice, but I just wanted to grab a handleful of the mandarian oranges growing on trees everywhere. Turns out that for Chinese New Year they are given as a potted gift and as the fruit grows they are plucked, slated and preserved for times of colds and flu during the year. You can see a pair of the trees on either side of the steps below the temple and the Buddha. Incense were burning everywhere, small temple places on either side of the courtyard and below the Buddha statue. It was an eventful day with a needed night of rest.