By the end of the 19th century, many Buddhist monks and nuns from China moved to Hong Kong due to political instability in the mainland. Since then the peaceful and tranquil Lantau Island has emerged as an important site for spirituality.
Ngong Ping, Luk Wu, Keung Shan, Tei Tong Tsai and Man Cheung Po are seen as the five major Buddhist sites of Lantau Island, where there are numerous temples and gardens for spiritual retreats and meditation.
But Ngong Ping, the home of the Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha, is now too overrun with tourists and holidaymakers. Hikers who seek a serene day-off should instead go to Tei Tong Tsai, as I did one day.
I took a brisk walk along Ngong Ping Fun Trail until the Dong Shan Fa Mun (東山法門) archway, where it marks the start of the Fa Mun Traditional Path (法門古道).
To my surprise, the path was well-paved with smooth concrete. I was hoping to relive the daily life of Buddhist monks of the past, commuting between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping.
At the midway point was Po Lam Monastery. I noticed that nuns were gathered in a hall there, reading aloud Buddhist scriptures. As it was not an appropriate time to drop by, so I continued my hike.
The path covered in cement was not challenging but was a bit boring. So, when I eventually saw a flight of stone steps of the Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail, I felt a thrill and climbed up as quickly as I could.
Looking back, I found Po Lam Monastery was almost completely hidden by green old pines. Yet I could still hear the echoes of the chants of the studious nuns.
There is an aerial view of Tung Chung new town and the Hong Kong International Airport in the north and Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak in the south.
About 200 meters away before arriving at the exit of the trail at Pak Kong Au was the East Lantau Stream, which gathers six tributaries that plunge down from the northeastern slope of Lantau Peak. Embracing the nature was truly an experience of cleansing the mind and body.
To go to Ngong Ping: Take New Lantao Bus route 2 from Mui Wo Ferry Pier, or route 23 from Tung Chung Town Center.
To return from Pak Kong Au: Walk along Tung Chung Road uphill towards south for about 500 meters to reach the bus stop. Take New Lantao Bus routes 3M, 11 or 23 to Tung Chung Town Center.
Time: About two and a half hours
Reference: Government websites with maps: Ngong Ping Fun Trail, Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 22, 2015.
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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