Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hong Kong Day 4: Lantau Island Part 1 - Ngong Ping and the Crystal Cabin Cable Car

My itinerary on day 4 in Hong Kong is finally on leisure, and I could do with some browsing/shopping activities.
We planned a trip to visit the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, as bro had never been there, and I did not mind the visiting a religious, not to mention one of the most iconic landmarks in Hong Kong.

The efficient public transportation made it easy to get to Lantau Island, as we hopped onto the MTR and headed straight to the Tung Chung Station.
When we arrived at Tung Chung, we followed the friendly directions to lead to Ngong Ping.
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Ngong Ping seemed to be really popular compared to our first trip four years ago; where I remembered the only route to get to the Big Buddha in Lantau Island is only via a bus which travelled through winding roads uphill.
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Of course, the bus is still available to Lantau Island, but it seemed less popular now, judging from the vacant spot.

I soon found out why, as there is a new modern mode of transportation to bring visitors to Lantau; and it was via the cable car.
The crystal cabin is the first of its kind in Hong Kong, and is one of the hottest attractions to Lantau Island, replacing the good old bus.
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The cable car is indeed popular, and robbed the bus of its initial market, with visitors now flocking to the cable car and forming long queues like these!
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It may be a long queue, but it was not that long of a wait as there were a lot of ticketing counters to serve the visitors.
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The fares and types of tour/trip packages available
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**Prices are based on the time this photo was taken and may subject to change depending on the management**

The Vegetarian meal package at Ngong Ping; I almost took this package but fortunately, I confirmed with the counter on whether this is the one offered by the Po Lin Monastery.
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This is NOT the one offered by the Po Lin Monastery, but by a restaurant in the new Ngong Ping Village. I am not saying whether you should or should not take it, as this is entirely up to your own preferences.
The reason I did not take it was because I recalled my vegetarian meal experience which I had at the vegetarian restaurant run/belonging to the monastery, and I preferred to dine there.
I have nothing against this; it's just that I wanted to relive the nostalgia of the vegetarian meal there.

Back to the cable car, there are two types; the normal cable car and the new crystal cabin (with glass bottoms). Prices, of course differ between the two carriages; with the crystal cabin costing a little more compared to the normal cabin.
The tickets are also based on the type of trips you choose:
1. Round trip using one type of cable car (either the crystal cabin or the normal cabin)
2.Single trip using each type of the cable car (one trip using crystal cabin, and the trip back using the normal cable car).

The prices are based on the type; with the round trip with the crystal cabin being the most expensive out of all the options.

Upon the purchase, we got the ticket and also a band to wear on the wrist for the round trips.
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There is another queue after the tickets have been purchased, for the cable cars. This line can be deceiving; with the bends and turns, and we thought that our line was shorter! So wrong, we waited for a while, and the line was only slightly shorter for the normal cable cars.
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The cable cars came in alternates; or there were at least two crystal cabins before one normal cabin. Guess the popularity of the crystal cabins is evident.
(These crystal cabin cable cars can be found in Langkawi (Malaysia) too)

What's so special about these crystal cabins?
One would have thought that the whole cabin is crystal-like or fully glass-enclosed; well, not wrong, but the unique part lies in the glass or crystal floor in the cabin which formed the bottom of the cable car.
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We were able to view the scenery almost at 360 degrees around us; even at the bottom!
It is no wonder that these crystal cabins made it to the newest attraction to Lantau Island. However, for people who are afraid of heights, it may not be that attractive though.

The 360 degree views from the cabin; left, right, bottom
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View of Chek Lap Kok Airport; which is located on Lantau Island
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More sceneries
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Another way to get to Lantau Island is to hike, but are you up to it? :)
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The ride takes about 40-45 minutes to reach the Giant Buddha
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A glimpse of the Giant Buddha
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To be continued in Part 2...

4 comments:

  1. That cable car looks too cool! Even though the see-through bottom might scare me a little if I was in it :) I've spent very little time in Hong Kong as we usually just fly in and continue straight to Guangzhou to visit family, but it seems like a very fun city. A there is so much to see! I hope next time I get to check out some of the things you're writing about here!

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  2. I really enjoyed the glass bottom when we went- we saw a lot of little waterfalls while heading up to see the Big Buddha!

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  3. That staircase of greetings is awesome!

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  4. Hie Ashley, YEAH, we thought so too and couldn't stop taking pics with it..haha:D
    It made every visitor felt welcomed (and at home too) to see our own language there;)

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