Exploring HK Part 1: 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin
As fall break approached, I couldn’t be happier to have a significant amount of time off to recover from a) graduate school completion, b) hectic travel to HK, c) starting a job in a new school with new kids, new team, and entirely knew curricular structure, d) finding a place to live, and e) furnishing and outfitting said place since most apartments in HK are pretty much naked when you take up a lease.
On the first day of fall break, a new friend and I took on the 400+ stair challenge to see the famed 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin. A 45-50 minute double-decker (299X) bus ride away from Sai Kung, Sha Tin is the closest thing to a big city we have out here. Anything with an IKEA can qualify as a city in my book.
Past all the hustle and bustle of new malls and IKEA, is a pretty badly marked gravel pathway to the 10,000 Buddhas. The only way we found the proper pathway was seeing the glint of golden Buddhas as we approached the steep stairs. Then, we slowly – and with many rest breaks along the way – wound our way up the hill. You can take the stairs or stretch your calves on the inclined path – either way, it’s a climb.
However, golden Buddha statues line the pathway all the way to the top of the mountain, and, with a background of jade green trees, reed-thin bamboo, and a scarlet backdrop to frame them, it was quite picaresque. The Buddhas displayed every imaginable pose and expression as we climbed up and up and up.
At the very top of the mountain sits the monastery, a red traditional building set against the drama of crystal blue sky, emerald trees, and the city down below. The day was gorgeously sunny, and just walking around the courtyards with the heady scent of incense burning in the air was worth the climb. It was peaceful and very quiet, even for a Saturday.
Inside the main shrine, thousands upon thousands of tiny golden lights sparkle in the near-darkness, illuminating effigies of gold buddhas.
While there was a vegetarian restaurant on the premises, the day was promising rain, and there was no way I wanted to slide down the hill on my backside.
Besides, I have quite the habit of sliding down stairs and hurting my ankles, as my experience two weeks before had proved when I missed a stair during a rainstorm and nearly cracked my ankle in half. That was a pleasant two weeks of hobbling about to work.
Stairs in Hong Kong are tricky affairs.