The One With The Sunday Day Trip To Shatin & Tai Po

There are only so many weekends a man could spend bar-hopping and club-dancing before he feels totally washed out and in need of a break in routine. It all sounded glamorous when one’s weekends are filled with dancing, drinking and merrymaking but, trust me, it gets stale. Sometime.

So in a bid of Doing Something Different, yours truly ganged up with some lovely friends to go up north towards the New Territories of Hong Kong, making a healthy day trip one fine Sunday.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

Shatin Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

Otherwise known as Man Fat Tsz, this is not an actually monastery as there are no residence monks. Located in Shatin, the monastery is some 400 odd steps up a hill at Pai Tau Village. The name, as you may guessed, come from the thousands of life-sized and small Buddhas at this place.

Shatin Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

The way up to the monastery was lined up by hundreds of Buddhas, which would have made a scary scene had it been late evening when visited. The hike up wasn’t exactly difficult. It was steep at places, and I would recommend doing it on a mild day in autumn or winter.

Shatin Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

At the top of the hill are more Buddhist temples, with statues from the size of your palm to many times of one’s height. The sheer scale of it can be mind boggling, though the place itself was not huge. It made for a pleasant visit wondering around the temple complex. The mountain air did wonders clearing my head and make me feel at peace with the world.

As I often felt at places of religion worship.

At Ten Thousands Buddhas Monastery

Also at the courtyard is this vegetarian restaurant serving simple vegetarian dishes. At HKD60 a pop, it is easy to choose from the (somewhat limited) menu. Perhaps we were starving after the hike, or simply because of the fresh mountain air, the food tasted ridiculously good. More on these later in a different blog post.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

After the monastery we took a cab down to Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, located at Tai Po. There were two banyan trees at this famous shrine, frequented by tourists and the locals during the Lunar New Year. Previously, they burnt joss sticks, wrote their wishes on joss paper tied to an orange, then threw them up to hang in these trees. It was believed that if the paper successfully hung onto one of the tree branches, their wishes will come true.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

Alas, the custom was so popular that the actual banyan trees were in serious danger from permanent harm. They are now being nursed back to health by plenty of wooden crutches and protected by metal barriers. In its place, a plastic tree was put in place, with sample (plastic) oranges thrown up the tree to show what it would have been like.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

The moment we arrived we were approached by villages selling us these pieces of, err, wishing (joss) paper of which we can make our wish and hang onto some wooden plague. Like we won’t realise that they can easily take my wish down and resell it to the next sucker. And I am not that desperate to make a wish.

All in all, a terribly disappointing visit, including the on-so-average beancurd we had at a nearby stall.

Tai Po Waterfront Park

Tai Po Waterfront Park

Just another short cab ride away was the Tai Po Waterfront Park, which was so huge, so green and surprisingly crowded. Not that it really mattered. We were immersed in such good mood by the fresh air, jolly crowd and the sight of these kites in the air.

My heart soared. I had always to fly a kite. So Chris and I bought one each.

At Tai Po Waterfront Park

TADAH! Our kites! This photo was taken before our miserable attempt in trying to raise the damn kites into the air, like so many other visitors successfully did. Chris’s got ripped at his second attempt, and mine did a half-hearted twirl in the air before doing a kamikaze and landed at my feet. Chris had the whole embarrassing incident on video and I am undecided if to share it with the world on what a lame attempt it was.

But it was one of those what if I didn’t moments, you know?

At Tai Po Waterfront Park

If you are visiting the park, make sure you climb this lookout tower. It is an easy walk, and the sight at the top, the breeze, the atmosphere will be totally worth it. Especially at dusk, like the time when we were there.

I know I risk sounding like a broken record here, but I can hardly believe I was still in Hong Kong!

Bicycle Ride from Tai Po to Shatin

Cycling From Tai Po to Shatin

After that, we got this idea in our head to go cycling. From Tai Po back to Shatin, along a designated cycling route. After many hilarious moments figuring how to work our bike (yours truly was having trouble with the bicycle stand, and that is, like, elementary), we set off…

Cycling From Tai Po to Shatin

… and took a wrong turn! Spent a good half an hour before we were back on track. I was told that the ride was about five kilometres, but oh God… it felt like forever. It must have taken us at least two hours because, by the time we reached our destination at Shatin, my ass was sore from all the pedaling.

I had never been so happy to see a bicycle shed.

Chiu Chow Dinner at Tai Wai

After returning our rented bicycles, we took to the road again (by cab, but of course!) and went to this extremely crowded Chiu Chow restaurant in Tai Wai. This was the first restaurant in Hong Kong where I was actually told to find my own table! Service is non-existent unless you are a seated customer, but the food was worth it.

For Chiu Chow food that is. The experience was unique, and deserves its own blog post.

At Ten Thousands Buddhas Monastery

All in all, a great way to spend a Sunday in Hong Kong. Didn’t I tell you, this “world city” surprises at every turn? All it takes is a little effort, a dollop of determination and a dedication of time to get an adventure going not too far away from your door step.

Related Links:
My photo set from the day on Flickr
Ten Thousands Buddhas Monastery (Shatin)
Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree
Tai Po Waterfront Park

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