Hong Kong- Day Two

Rosita greets us early the next morning as we are taking the early ferry to go across the harbor to the main ferry terminal where we will take a second ferry to the island of Lantau. This island is where we will spend most of our day today. After a 45 minute ride, we meet our taxi driver on the island. He will take us around the island. Rosita consults with the driver about the possibility of taking us to one of the mountain top cemeteries to see the grave ceremony. Definitely no photos. We watch as hundreds of folks are walking up the mountain roads carrying food, cleaning materials, and their paper offerings. Rosita points out the many things going on among the tombstones. Most of them have photos of the deceased attached to the front of the tombstone. The whole place is hazy from the smoke rising from the burning offerings. The families are speaking to their ancestors as they burn the offerings. We stand respectfully at a distance.
We next travel to a great reservior and then a beautiful beach on our way to a fishing village. Here it is sometimes possible to take a boat out to the edge of the inlet in hopes of catching a glimpse of the small white porpoise. The lady in charge of the boat rentals confesses that none have been seen after daybreak. We pass on the boat tour. Moving on we pass more folks walking up the mountains to where their ancestors are buried. Here the monuments are in the form of a stone “arm chair”. The idea is the dearly departed can sit and view the beautiful sea. We are driving back up another mountain to see the great Buddha. By far the largest we have seen to date. Its location was determined by the monks after much searching for a site with the proper feug sheui.
The Big Buddha was erected from several huge pieces at the top of a steep hill. There are 200 steps leading up to it. Today the stairs are jammed with the people making a pilgrimage. We have a vegetarian lunch in a restaurant run by the monks and then visit the temple which is very colorful and newly painted.
Rosita explains that we will take a cable car back down the mountain to where Sonny, our driver, will pick us up. It is rather confusing as it was a long drive and ferry trip to get here so the cable car does not make sense until we look at a map. I had promised myself that on this voyage I would not take any ferries or cable cars. Now I will be two for two. The cable car, James points out, was made in Austria where they sure know how to make them. I am not reassured. We lift off and travel over 45 minutes hundreds of feet up in the air. We can see several hiking trails along the cable car towers. This is a favorite place to hike for Hong Kong residents. We see the massive Hong Kong airport as it comes into full view. It is built on a dredged piece of land reclaimed from the ocean. We see planes landing and taking off every 30 seconds. The volume of air traffic reminds us of Atlanta. Off in the distance we notice a forest fire burning out of control on the mountainside. It is near one of the cemeteries. We can only surmise that a paper offering being burnt started the fire in the dry mountain brush. We can see fire fighters making their way to the blaze while helicopers are dropping barrels of water on the blaze. Sure was an eventful 45 minute ride! At the bottom we find Sonny is having difficulty getting to us because of road closings due to the fire.
It has been a good day for people watching with the Easter Sunday holiday and the Ancestor Pilgimage not to mention the lovely weather has everyone out and about. The line to go up into the mountains by cable car is a mile long. We head back into town where Rosita is insisting that we stop at her favorite restaurant for some carry out. We do not want to, but we finally give in as the only polite way out. The restaurant is voted one of the best in Hong Kong even though it is only a hole in the wall. The chef had opened the place after leaving the Four Seasons.Rossita orders her two favorites and I must say they are very good. One is a steamed bun, slightly sweet, and filled with pork. The other is a dumpling with an opaque covering make from green beans. It tasted rather like Thai with lots of flavors.
Back on the ship we collapse from exhaustion. The ship departs an hour late so we are able to get a good look at the light show as we leave.