The Po Lin Monastery In Hong Kong
It's got one of the best views of the islands going. The Po Lin Monastery is in the Ngong Ping plateau at the topmost point in Lantau Island. It is one of most tourists' favorite sights and it might be well worth your while to keep a day free so you can explore this monastery at your leisure.
You could get there by ferry from Hong Kong and it will take you to Mui Wo from where you can take the No. 2 bus up which is almost an hour's drive. Or you could take the train, the MTR, to Tung Chung and take the No. 23 from there. It's a wonderful view to the top and the sight of the countryside and the sea can fill you with delight – though the bus ride can be a bit trying.
The name of the monastery means ‘the precious lotus' and it was started by three Zen Buddhist monks - Da Yue, Dun Xiu and Yue Ming - as a simple place of worship. It was called simply, The Big Hut. Today, it has grown to become one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries. The structure is full of inscriptions and statuettes. The outside is peaceful and the view spectacular. Little wonder the monks of those times made their home here. You can be a part of it by getting yourself an incense stick. Light it and bow thrice. This is in honor of the monks who watch over the building as well as their ancestors. Then place it in one of the many incense holders there. All around, you'll be amazed at all the intricate work and the carvings.
It is one of the monasteries where they are not sticky about removing your shoes or wearing shorts. They are pretty easygoing and the only difference would be if you wanted to eat there – the meals are vegetarian. You get to eat with the monks in their dining room. You could even stay overnight and watch spellbound as the sun comes up over the Fong Wong Shan Mountain, inspiring and glorious. The facilities are simple and the vegetarian food is really quite exceptional.
If you come up to the temple gate, you can see a huge copper statue on the Muyushan Mountain. It is called Sakyamuni and means one of the Sakya sages. It is also simply called ‘the Big Buddha' or Tian Tan and it took ten years to build. You'll have to climb up 268 steps to get to it. The base houses an exhibition hall as well as a very large bell which is rung many times every day – 108 to be exact to relieve the 108 vexations we are plagued with.
Po Lin is a wonderful place to visit so make sure it is part of your must-sees when you are in Hong Kong.