This is post twelve of twelve on our autumn trip to South Korea. Check out the other posts in this series here:
- Back for One Last Score: Intro to our Korean Babymoon
- 4 Nights at the Stylish Park Hyatt Seoul
- Checking Out Seoul’s Spirits
- Eating Our Way Through Seoul
- Seoul’s Other Palaces
- Staying at the Hilton Gyeongju
- Visiting the Silla Kingdom: 1 Day in Gyeongju
- 4 Nights is Not Enough at the Park Hyatt Busan
- Temple Time in Busan
- Tricked out Again: The Busan Trick Eye Museum
- Busan BBQ: A Mixed Bag
- 14 Hours in Hong Kong: Protests, Dim Sum & Giant Buddhas
Mrs. Selfish and I left Busan on a flight bound for Hong Kong at 8 in the morning. While there is typically an afternoon flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco, it was completely booked, so we found ourselves with just a little over 14 hours in Hong Kong.
I love Hong Kong, but the city was on high alert over the ongoing battle between democratic protesters and the local government, who had tear-gassed and beaten demonstrators on several occasions. Not a good place to visit with a 6-month pregnant wife.
With that in mind, we decided to check out some of Hong Kong’s other sites, specifically the Tian Tan Buddha, which we had missed seeing on our last 3 trips to Hong Kong.
Tian Tan Buddha and Ngong Ping Village
The Tian Tan Buddha was completed in 1993, and is one of the largest outdoor bronze seated Buddhas in the world. A lot of qualifiers, I know, but well worth a visit – he looks stupendous!
Despite the fact that the Tian Tan Buddha is on Lantau Island, the same island that the Hong Kong airport is on, it is actually a bit of a pain to get to.
For starters, you can’t take the metro system down one line to the Tung Chung Station. Instead, you’ll have to buy bus passes from the airport to Chung Station, and then take a 45-minute local bus to the Ngong Ping Village, or take the cable cars.
Since the cable cars only take 15 minutes, and were 150 HKD ($20 USD) for a round trip ticket per person, we opted to take the cable car.
The lines can be rather long to take the cable car, unfortunately. Coming in on a Saturday around 1pm, I was rather surprised that it only took us 30 minutes to get to the front of the line. From there, it was only a matter of moments before we bought tickets and boarded our “Standard Cabin” cable car.
While the views of the airport and the surrounding towns were nice, things got really exciting as we approached the Buddha. I mean, this guy is massive at a whopping 112 feet tall. Apparently you can sometimes even see him from Macau on a clear day.
The cable car ride ends at Ngong Ping Village, which at one time may have been a real village, but now has a very Disney-type feeling. They have a Subway and Starbucks and even pipe in music!
Fake as Ngong Ping Village can be, however, the Po Lin Monastery is very real. Originally formed in 1906, Po Lin is still a practicing Buddhist monastery to this day.
Since Mrs. Selfish and I were hungry, we decided to grab some tofu from the monastery’s famous vegetarian cafe. The tofu is renowned, and is flavored to taste like char sieu, chicken curry, and sweet and sour pork.
While tasty, I won’t be giving up meat anytime soon.
From the monastery, it was a short walk to the base of the Tian Tan Buddha, and then roughly a hundred steps up to the bronze Buddha itself.
The Buddha is surrounded by the six statues, in a pose known as “the offering of the six devas.” Each statue is offering the Buddha an item which represents the six qualities needed to enter nirvana: charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom.
Eating at One Dim Sum
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a trip to a Dim Sum restaurant, so Mrs. Selfish and I decided to brave the protests and head to One Dim Sum on the Kowloon side.
Located near the Prince Edward MTR station at Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road, One Dim Sum is a one star Michelin restaurant serving up killer dim sum at typical dim sum prices.
While the dim sum in San Francisco is excellent, the restaurants in Hong Kong don’t **** around. You really can’t get better dim sum anywhere else in world.
Unlike other dim sum eateries like Tim Ho Wan, One Dim Sum doesn’t really specialize in anything. Instead they manage to nail the basics excellently.
Mrs. Selfish and I decided to order Turnip Cakes, Char Siu Cheung, Siu Mai, Chiu Chow Fun Gor, and Hack Chiu Au Chay Gunk.
While everything was good, the real star of the show was the Siu Mai (pork dumplings), which was the freshest I’d ever had. The Hack Chiu Au Chay Gunk (dumplings stuffed with pork, greens, and boiled peanuts) were also excellent – tender, with a nice crunch from the peanuts and a delightful soy based marinade.
While I’m glad we decided to check out One Dim Sum, I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon, if only because I am crazily addicted to the char siew baos at Tim Ho Wan.
Protests and the long flight home
Bellies full, Mrs. Selfish and I still had a few hours to kill before heading back to the airport, so we decided to brave the protests to hit one of my favorite parts of Hong Kong, Mongkok.
The protests were just ramping up for the evening, with the protesters out in full force. We witnessed a brief encounter between the protesters and the police, who decided to back off for the evening amidst a ton of applause. Fortunately, nothing got out of hand and we were able to take several pictures without incident.
After watching the protests we decided it was time to head back to the airport, and from there home. I had been stalking Cathay Pacific’s first class award availability during our time in Busan, and was excited to see two seats open up two day before our flight.
The flight was incredibly restful, if a bit long. Service was impeccable, and Mrs. Selfish even managed to get a full 7 hours of sleep – a rare feat in the Selfish household! Our flight attendants were particularly attentive since she was noticeably pregnant, even managing to get her 3 pillows so she could sleep on her side like normal.
And that’s it for our Korean trip report! I am still woefully behind on Greece, as well as our Game of Thrones trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia and will be trying to finish them up before Baby Selfish arrives early next year.