Monkeys, Buddhas, and Ferries Oh My!

Who did it better?

Hong Kong’s environmental diversity continues to amaze me on a daily basis. A person who enjoys being spontaneous belongs here. My most recent adventure took my group and I to the 10,000 Buddhas. Now, one may ask, “Are there really 10,000 Buddhas?”. If I’m being completely honesty with you, I got bored counting by the time I got to the low teens… According to an article about the history of this historical landmark, roughly 12,000 gold colored (not actual gold… I was disappointed as well) Buddhas are dispersed up a winding path that stretches up a large hill that I would argue is the equivalent to a small mountain.

Climbing to the top however, was the smallest feat achieved that day. Let me give you a little idea of why that may be. Located in the New Territories of Hong Kong, this paved trail up a mountain is a lot more difficult to find that you would expect. I kept asking myself “Okay… How arduous must it be to locate that many Buddhas…?” Much more than expected let me tell you.

Probably the most surprising characteristic of this attraction is what is at the base of it… I would have never guessed that our friends from Sweden would choose to house one of their most popular home good stores smack dab right next door. Yes. That’s right. There is an Ikea no more than 30 paces from the base of the 10,000 Buddhas trek. Conveniently placed I guess because what you see on this journey may make you want to cuddle a pillow, which you can conveniently purchase for around $100 HKD (around $12.50 USD).

I know what you’re thinking. What could possibly be so frightening about a little golden statue of a Buddha. It wasn’t the statues at all. It was what was climbing, swinging, and defecating all over them. Monkeys. Most of the macaque (species found in Hong Kong) were very cute and playful as we were ascending. However, during our descent, the macaques were a little less hospitable. I don’t want to sound dramatic by comparing our experience to the movie Kong, so I’ll use Rise of the Planet of the Apes as my example. The statues were lined up on either side of the paved pathway, which was surrounded by jungle terrain. Tree limbs surrounding us were shaking and we could see many masses shooting around in the brush. Without warning, close to 30 monkeys, from infants to adults swung their way onto the Buddhas that were in front of my group.

We were boxed in on all sides by these monkeys. At that moment you go back to your grade school teachings. The “there is strength in numbers” saying apparently is taught by another species with apposable thumbs. With a 10:1 ratio of macaques to people in my group, we found our feet cemented to the cement. Need I mention that it was a warm day. Thus, my consumption of water was decently high. There were also no lavatories along the trail. After a few minutes of letting the monkeys run amok, I told my friends that we needed to muster up some courage quickly or there was going to be an added water feature in their general vicinity. The hint was taken.

Maneuvering passed these monkeys was not an easy task because of how familiar they are with people. In my head, I was humming the Mission Impossible theme song and imagining what I would do if I was Tom Cruise. News flash. I am most definitely not Tom Cruise. Every muscle in my body was stiff as a board as I tiptoed by a full sized adult macaque. I was no more than two feet away. It felt just like high school when I came come past curfew: trying not to make a sound, avoiding possible eye contact, then once you passed the figure that you are trying to avoid you break into a full sprint. After making it down the mountain, my friends and I felt as though we barely escaped death. We survived of course, and rejuvenated with none other than a bowl of noodles. Pure comfort. In person, I am able to give a much better description and show videos of how crazy this experience actually was. See me in person for a more detailed telling of this story.

I’ll close my entry with a pro tip. When your friend group is trying to get from point A to point B via ferry, do not leave the dock because you are trying to catch a Pokemon playing Pokemon Go. First of all, I was under the impression we left that in 2016. Second, if you hear the siren that is signaling the ferry closing its gates, it may be wise to let the Pokemon go… However, it did make for a funny story and video as we sailed passed our friend waiting for the next boat. Never a dull moment over here!

Until next time!