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Welcoming in The Year of the Ox

A Trip to Po Lin Monastery and a walk to Shek Pik Reservoir.

semi-overcast

Yesterday I stopped school for the Chinese New Year Holiday. Funnily enough, yesterday was the first day it has rained for months and Chinese New Year is notoriously wet and miserable but today it had cleared up and the forecast claims the weather is going to be good. I hope so, as I want to do more sightseeing before the hot weather kicks in.

Today I decided to head to Po Lin Monastery then follow the Shek Pik Country Trail down to the Shek Pik Reservoir. I started by heading to Tung Chung and boarding a number 23 bus to the Big Buddha. As it's a Thursday and possibly not everyone is on holiday yet for Chinese New Year, the bus wasn't too busy. In addition the Big Buddha is closed for renovation and has been for quite a long time. That may also explain why it wasn't too crowded.

As always when travelling across Lantau Island, the bus journey was beautiful. I even managed to take a couple of pictures of Cheung Sha Beach from the bus and one while crossing the Shek Pik Reservoir.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Looking over Shek Pik Prison.

Looking over Shek Pik Prison.

When I arrived at Po Lin Monastery, I noticed a huge number of flowering trees off to the left of where the bus dropped us. While everyone else from the bus headed towards the monastery, I was extremely distracted by photographing these. They were lovely.

Colourful Trees.

Colourful Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Shops and Restaurants.

Shops and Restaurants.

Buildings and Trees.

Buildings and Trees.

Buildings and Trees.

Buildings and Trees.

Po Lin Monastery used to be referred to as 'the big thatched hut'. It dates back to 1906 when it was founded by three monks from Jiangsu Province. It was only officially named Po Lin Monastery in 1924. Outside the monastery there are several large gateways, statues and shops which are currently selling windmills and incense among other things.

Gateway to the Monastery.

Gateway to the Monastery.

Statues.

Statues.

Statues.

Statues.

Statue.

Statue.

Incense.

Incense.

Windmills.

Windmills.

Outside the main entrance to the monastery there were absolutely enormous sticks of incense. I imagine they will be lit tonight for Chinese New Year. Entrance to the monastery is free. All I had to do to get in was pass a temperature check. There are statues of several gods and a large golden Buddha in the entrance way.

Incense.

Incense.

Incense.

Incense.

Entranceway.

Entranceway.

Buddha.

Buddha.

statue.

statue.

statue.

statue.

The monastery was beautifully decorated with rows of red lanterns, kumquat trees, spring blossoms and chrysanthemums for Chinese New Year. Po Lin Monastery has a Hall of Buddha as its main shrine. This contains three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives. Behind this stands the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The roofs of the monastery are wonderfully painted and decorated with pictures of dragons. The walls are made from granite and they are carved into wonderfully coiled dragons and intricate friezes.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Dragons.

Dragons.

Dragons.

Dragons.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

In the hall of Buddha.

In the hall of Buddha.

Grand Hall of 10,000 Buddhas.

Grand Hall of 10,000 Buddhas.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Frieze.

Frieze.

Frieze.

Frieze.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Dragon.

Dragon.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Spring Blossom.

Spring Blossom.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

I have seen the Big Buddha several times. It was completed in 1993. Apparently it has weathered and needs cleaned up. It is currently enclosed in a sort of scaffolding cage.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

When I had finished looking around the monastery, I headed towards the Wisdom Path. On the way I passed through an abandoned village. I can't find out much information about it though.

Tulip Tree.

Tulip Tree.

Beautiful Orange Flame Vine Flowers.

Beautiful Orange Flame Vine Flowers.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

The Wisdom Path is a series of thirty-eight steles set out in the form of a figure eight to represent infinity. Each of the steles is decorated with verses from the centuries old Heart Sutra - a prayer revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists. There are good views of Lantau Peak from here.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Next I set out on the Shek Pik Country Trail. This is a rocky, tree-lined dirt path which descends slowly down to the Shek Pik Reservoir. It's a fairly shaded five kilometre walk with intermittent views of mountains, the reservoir and the sea. It takes about two hours to walk. It is crossed by several small streams. All but one of these was currently dry. At one point on this walk I encountered a rather large rat. While I am not fond of rats, it was fitting as today is the last day of the Year of the Rat. Near the end of the Shek Pik Country Trail there is a series of steep steps down to a picnic ground next to the reservoir.

The Trail.

The Trail.

The Trail.

The Trail.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Ferns.

Ferns.

A small stream, almost dry.

A small stream, almost dry.

Tree Stumps.

Tree Stumps.

View of the Reservoir.

View of the Reservoir.

Vegetation.

Vegetation.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

Ferns.

Ferns.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

Steep steps down.

Steep steps down.

Steep steps down.

Steep steps down.

I exited the picnic ground and turned right for great views of the reservoir and the bus-stop for buses back to Tung Chung. Shek Pik Reservoir was built between 1957 and 1963 and has a storage capacity of 24 million cubic metres making it the third largest reservoir in Hong Kong. Four villages: Shek Pik Tai Tseun, Fan Pui Tsuen, Kong Pui Tsuen and Hang Tsai Tseun were relocated due to the reservoir's construction and a Hau Wong Temple lies beneath the waters of the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Before going for the bus though, I noticed a sign on the other side of the road saying there was a bronze age rock carving 700 metres away, so I walked to that before heading home. This is the second bronze age rock carving I have seen in Hong Kong. I saw one at Big Wave Bay last week. Most of Hong Kong's ancient rock carvings are next to the sea, but this one is 300m inland. It is thought that the sea inlet might have stretched up to this point in the past. The carving is believed to be around 3,000 years old.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

The rock carvings were right next to Shek Pik Prison. I don't know why prisons are frequently in scenic spots here. Shek Pik Prison is a maximum security institution for male prisoners which opened in 1984. Next to the prison there was an abandoned village, maybe one of the four listed above.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Posted by irenevt 06:44 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Hi, Irene! Happy Year of the Ox! We welcomed this new year yesterday as well...

by Vic_IV

Hi Victor Happy New Year to you and your family, too. Let's hope the Year of the Ox is better than the Year of the Rat.

by irenevt

Hi Irene, Colourful, love the flowering trees. Do ordinary people use the Chinese calender or the world calender ? Stay Safe Alec.

by alectrevor

Hi Alec, Happy Year of the Ox. People use the western calendar for dates but Chinese New Year is a huge celebration here. Bigger than Christmas, though this year parades, dragon dancing, lion dancing, fireworks are all cancelled due to covid.

by irenevt

But where are the oxen pictures in the year of the ox?.....probably just as well, I still recall walking along the old sector of Delhi and being stabbed in the shoulder by a sharp cow's horn after it started to stampede in the crush of bodies.

...and with no redress, because in India the cow is sacred/holy and wanders the streets with impunity!

You are lucky to be in the tropics right now, here in Glasgow it's freezing, last night the temperature dropped to -12C and with more snow to come today.

by Bennytheball

Hi Benny,

We haven't made it to India yet. Good to have lots left to do. Chinese New Year is generally rainy, cold and miserable here, but so far this year, it's been nice. Of course we never hit temperatures that are minus. The government issues cold weather warnings if we ever hit 12 degrees. Hope all is good with you.

by irenevt

Happy New Year!

I love the photos of the dragons and oranges! Nice to see photos without snow in them! :)

Cold here as well, -10C and suppose to stay well in the minus degrees for a good while..

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna, Happy Year of the Ox. Yes the dragons look like they are just about to gobble down all that fruit. Hope it warms up for you soon.

by irenevt

Wow, I loved seeing that monastery - so colourful and so many beautiful details! I would be taking photos all day there ;) But then I loved the views on the trail too, so it's just as well that you made time for that too!

by ToonSarah

Hi Sarah, I meant to just take a quick look at the monastery but it was so beautifully decorated for Chinese New Year, I ended up being there quite a while. Probably just as well the Big Buddha was covered up or I'd have run out of charge on my phone before starting the hike!!!

by irenevt

Haha, yes, I can see how that could too easily happen

by ToonSarah

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