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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Big Buddha Upstairs


Years before the boy who goes by the name Siddharta would become known as Gautama, the Buddhist religion founder, he was always in search for his life's meaning. It was a life-long quest that would ultimately help shape a big part of our world. I was always fascinated with the Buddhist religion, it strikes me as its centered on one's peace of mind and its relation to every living things around. When I found myself on a bus going to the Ngong Ping highlands to visit the Tian Tan or otherwise known as the "Giant Buddha",  peace of mind nor with myself has always been the slippery toad caught between my hands. Right here this moment and gone the next.

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Eventually, rather slowly I gained insights along the way that has abled me to find peace even in the most riotous moments, but my mind forever seek answers to a slide show of equations and puzzles that racks up like bees around a honey. I eventually sought refuge with traveling just the same as the young Siddharta did after becoming disillusioned and in the course of his travels he saw the tragedies that befell people on Earth; sickness, old age and death. He questioned his quest for happiness amidst the sorrow that surrounds him.

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As we approach the place I could almost see the head of the Buddha from a distance. Imposing yet it conjures a fleeting image of a family member you get to meet for the first time after suffering from a terrible amnesia, strange yet something lies hideously familiar and being right at home. I stepped out of the bus along with other tourists, most of whom were from mainland China, two Caucasian couple and a Sri Lankan family. Echoes of "whoa" alighted out from the mouths of some and I was like stunned for a moment at the size of the Big Buddha upstairs. I saw the flight of stairs leading to the Buddha was quite high but dismissed it as a walk in the bayou. I, however was forgetting that the only climbing I've done in the last few years was the steps of the LRT. 

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Renouncing the widely accepted norms of lifestyle in his time, Siddharta took off on a long journey bringing a minimal amount of Earthly possessions, cutting his hair bald, he wore torn out clothes and wandered like a nomad and vagabond. Fair to say it's nothing like a majorca holidays as he lived an extreme kind of life only to realized in the end that torturing one's physical self, by becoming too rustic in appearance nor drowning in luxury will not affect one's soul's quest to freedom. I, too have grandeur images of coming across a personal "Satori" on the road - an illumination that could hurriedly lead me to believe that what I was looking for has already been unearthed. In the end as Siddharta has found, the end to sufferings is nothing further than experiencing and living through it for good or for ill. After which, Siddharta became known as Gautama.

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I climbed the over 260 steps (268 to be exact) and in between huffing and puffing I pretended to take a photograph and in a few instances I really did, of the Giant Buddha so as not to send message to other climbing visitors that I lack exercise and is belonging to team 'weaklings'. Doing so a few people overtook me and before they could let me eat their dust, they asked me to take photographs of them and in a courteous move they too would offer to take my place behind the camera and will be the one to take a picture of me. So after taking pictures of a couple, three German sisters and a solo backpacker, I also ended up posing for each of them even though I wasn't keen on having my picture taken at that time.

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Upon reaching the top I looked around and found an eerie diverted moment of peace, as if someone just pulled a plug off a 50000 watt speaker, just by looking at the fields and highlands of Ngong Ping. I emptied my bottle of mineral water and with sweat all over my shirt I looked exasperated in physical sense, but my mind was traversing on its own and rightfully feeling energized as opposed to my shivering legs. Thoughts of Chinese fried rice, lamb chops, dimsum and noodles soup clouded my mind briefly, but as I stared at the giant bronze statue of the Buddha I felt energized and ecstatic to be not only in a place that vastly differs from the electric and elegant high rising towers of Hong Kong, but also being a step closer to finding my own "Dharma"

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Inside the big statue, a museum can be accessed for $40HK (with free meal) that displays letters written in blood that dates back 15th-18th century, oil and ceramic paintings of the Buddha's teachings. You can also offer a prayer to a departed one inside as shown by the many black and white images of people whom I presumed have passed away already and inscribed below their photographs was a particular year like "2125", "2065" and so on. I wonder if that signifies the expected rebirth of the person on the photographs. 

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Gautama spent half his life searching for his own and the other half trying to wake others from the trappings of life. I could at least take a shot at that kind of life, though I am not yet prepared to leave everything behind, having glimpses and learning from my travels has definitely makes its positive shook-up on my soul's core. I will never have that ultimate "Satori" but just a glimmering apparition is enough to send a message that will help me define whatever purpose I have in this life.

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The cool winds coming from the sea have dried up my sweat and my shirt has turned into a cold damp cloth, with my legs strength back again to normal I bid the Buddha adios and walked a bit faster down the stairs I saw other visitors starting to climb up again, I encountered the three German sisters who would only give me a fair smile. I wish I'd the urge to pick up chit-chat lines with them, but I guess the Buddha is yet to bless me with that kind of social skills on the fly. 

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I went down and headed to the nearby Po Lin Monastery and concluded my trip to the Tian Tan Buddha in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island in Hong Kong.

 "The kind of seed sown 
 will produce that kind of fruit. 
 Those who do good will reap good results. 
 Those who do evil will reap evil results. 
 If you carefully plant a good seed, 
 You will joyfully gather good fruit." 



13 comments:

Pinay Travel Junkie said...

You're lucky it wasn't foggy! We weren't able to enter the museum :(

lakwatsera de primera said...

love the seamless fusion of Buddha's journey and your personal experience, as always superbly written :) if I would be given a chance to choose another religion/way of life, I would choose Buddhism.

Lauren said...

Yes Marky is quite the word samurai, able to wield different topics into submission with creativity. great pictures too and hope to visit the place soon. But I want Taiwan and UAE first.

EDMARATION said...

=> Everytime I visit your blog marky, I am not actually after the photos but I am always excited to read the text. Gosh, you're a genius in playing words. The photos comes next. Keep it up!

Ed said...

seems like there weren't a lot of people when you got there. in our case, it was almost full!

I went inside the museum and they called my attention when I started to take photos. hehe

Nomadic Samuel said...

I loved going here in 2008! When I went the weather was really cold and the Buddha was surrounded in a sea of mist - making for some intriguing photos. You captured this really well from a variety of perspectives - nice shots!

Markyramone said...

@Gay - yeah, was lucky the sky was clear that day, made me enjoy the surrounding scenery

@Claire - thanks Claire, I wanna study Buddhism further and would want to visit Tibet someday

@Lauren - I know why you wanna visit UAE first hehe.

@Edmaration - thanks man, writing and traveling - two things i wanna do forever.

@Ed - I got in there early like 9am, and when I left that's where busloads of tourists started arriving.

@Nomadic Samuel - nice of you to be here, I hope to visit the places you visited this year someday. Ahh the joy of traveling. Cheers!

Pinoy Boy Journals said...

why didn't i visit the big buddha. drunk! drunk! drunk!

Aleah said...

Love the pictures and the travelogue, Marky. I've never been to HK, but when I do, this will be in my IT. You have a way with words that make readers want to experienced what you've gone through!

RON | fliptravels.com said...

this place is special for me and monette, it was the final stop of our first backpacking trip together.

nice article, damang dama ko! hehe

The Backpack Chronicles said...

i totally agree with everyone, you are quite a genius with words. superb entry!!consider me a stalker from now on.

by the way i added your link on my site. thanks!!

Markyramone said...

@Jerik - I'd love to get drunk on the road ren one time, I mean on a solo trip

@Aleah - naks thanks. Yeah hit HK its an ideal backpacking destination ren, if ur gonna skip Disneyland hehe

@Ron - wow this is where it all began pala, the dynamic backpacking duo of Ron-Monette.

@Joan - nice blog too, thanks I'll add you on my blog roll too :) more travels :*

Charlotte said...

I went here in 2000, on a really wet and cloudy day, but the Buddah lost none of its impact. You have some lovely photos and have spurred me on to dig out the ones I toog of my trip there..

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