The Big Tian Tan Buddha Upstairs | Hong Kong

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 centering 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", I recognized that 'peace of mind' has always been the slippery toad caught between my hands; right here this moment and gone the next.

Stairway to the Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong

Eventually, I gained insights along the way that able me to find peace even in the most riotous moments. With my mind forever seeking answers to a slide show of equations and puzzles that buzzed like bees around a honey. I eventually sought refuge with traveling just the same as the young Siddharta did after becoming disillusioned. To which during 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 surrounded him.

Statue guards at Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong

As we approach the place I could almost see the head of the Buddha from a distance. Imposing, yet conjuring a fleeting image of a family member you will meet for the first time after suffering from amnesia. There's a strange air yet something lies hideously familiar and feeling right at ease. 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. I, myself was briefly stunned at the sheer 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 back in Manila.

Levy Amosin at Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong

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.  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 what I was looking for has already been unearthed. In the end, as Siddharta learned, 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.

waving buddha at Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong

I climbed the over 260 steps (268 to be exact) and in between huffing and puffing I pretended to take photographs—and in a few instances I really did—of the Giant Buddha, so as not to appear lacking in exercise and 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 reciprocity, they would offer to take my a picture after. In total, I snapped shots 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.

the Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong from afar

Upon reaching the top I looked around for a spot to enjoy a moment of peace. I savored the silence 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 eager and ecstatic to be in a place that vastly differs from the electric and elegant high rising towers of Hong Kong, and also being a step closer to finding my own "Dharma"

Inside the big statue, a museum can be entered for $40HK (with free meal). It houses letters written in blood dating back to 15th-18th century and 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 to have passed away already. 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. 

Gretchen Filart looking at the Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong

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 put a positive shake up on my soul's core. I might never attain "Satori" but a glimmering apparition is enough to help me chart whatever purpose I have in this life.

Celine Murillo inside Tian Tan Buddha Hong Kong

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 faster down the stairs. Along my way down, I encountered the three German sisters who greeted me with a smile. I wish I have the confidence engage them in a brief chats, but I guess, Buddha has yet to bless me with that kind of social skills on the fly. 

Marky Ramone Go

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."