24th November 2018
This morning we catch the MTR to Tung Chung station on Lantau island. We'd already booked tickets for a crystal cabin on the Ngong Ping cable car through Klook website and this came to just over £35 in total. We arrive around 8.30am and queue up until it officially opens at 9am. There are separate lines for those with Klook vouchers, other vouchers and those waiting to buy tickets - it's pretty well organised and once it opens the queues move quickly and we exchange our voucher for the relevant ticket. There are less crystal cabins than normal cabins - the advantage being that they have glass floors so the views are amazing.
[Kev - Tam and I take part in the 'Guess The Footware' competition.]
There are great views of the city as we move off and we also see the new 34 mile bridge that's just been completed that links mainland China to Hong Kong - the bridge appears to go into the sea but in fact enters a tunnel for the rest of the distance to the mainland - what a feat of engineering.
As we approach the end of the journey over the North Lantau Country Park we catch our first glimpse of The Big Buddha - the reason that the cable car was built.
We alight at Ngong Ping cultural village and walk through the streets which are mostly comprised of shops and eateries - there are a number of additional attractions that can be paid for like the 360° VR experiences, but we don't bother with these. I do however buy a rather delicious icecream which is topped with tapioca/sago and floating in a fruity sauce - it looked rather strange but tasted very good. After the short walk through the "village" we arrive at the base of Tian Tan - the Big Buddha. There are 268 steps to the top and in the heat it soon gets quite strenuous but the views from the top are worth it. You look down upon the Po Lin Monastery and surrounding countryside. After taking copious photographs we start the descent and pass a group of Buddhists coming up the steps but stopping every few steps to chant and kneel and pray - they must be exhausted by the time they reach the top - but it does make you realise the significance of this amazing statue for those that worship here.
We wander around by the monastery where there are lots of large sticks of incense being burned which smell lovely, these can be purchased in the small shops nearby. We had researched buses to Tai O which is the oldest fishing village in Hong Kong so find the nearby bus stop and before long the correct bus turns up. The first thing that strikes you as you enter the narrow streets of the village is the overwhelming smell of fish - all of the shops are selling dried fish in various states from fully blown puffer fish to tiny sprats all dried and all very smelly.
Along the river the fisherman's huts still stand on stilts over the water and are still lived in by the residents of Tai O.
We take a little walk out of the village towards the hills and pass a lovely couple of girls who tell us to take the path up the hill as it is very peaceful with amazing views. We follow their directions and see the signs stating that there is a chance of seeing the rare white dolphins that swim in the nearby waters - unfortunately we don't see any, but the walk was indeed peaceful and very different from the hustle and bustle of the fishing village.
We head back to the village and realise that the next bus is due imminently so we start running for the bus stop (we knew the running we took up over a year ago would come in handy one day) and sure enough we jump on just as it is pulling out from the stop.
We get the bus to Mui Wo a small beach side town on Silvermine Bay - there's not much to do here and the next fast ferry to Central is due soon so we just sit on the dock and await its arrival. We are joined by hundreds of school children obviously heading into town as it's a Saturday, so it's not a quiet journey back to Hong Kong Central where we catch the Star Ferry. It's just a short walk then to the hotel to pick up the luggage that we'd left there earlier this morning when we checked out.
Get a taxi to the port and effortlessly check in and go to our stateroom 9156. This is what's classed as a Family Verandah and it is on the aft of the ship and on the right hand side and benefits from an extra large balcony. They are normally reserved for families of 3 or more, but if it gets near the sail date and they're not sold,they open them up and a couple on one of our tours had recently booked the other side one and mentioned it. We enquired as the thought of the extra large deck with it's large table and proper loungers was very appealing and we were able to upgrade for an affordable amount. The ship is actually going into dry dock later this year for a refit and although it does indeed look quite dated - particularly the carpets and bed covers - the actual decor wasn't as bad as we expected.
[Kev - Yep, that balcony is all ours! It came in handy in more ways than one during our cruise. Having full size sunbeds that you could move around to be in or out of the sun was a real boon.]
We are now quite peckish as we haven't eaten apart from the ice cream earlier that morning so we head to the Oceanview Cafe for lunch before exploring some more. The lure of the Premium drinks package proves too much (we got the basic package as part of the booking deal, but upgraded so that we could enjoy the greater range of drinks without having to pay more). After a drink in the Martini Bar (where the music was truly awful - in our opinion - loud dance music more suitable for a 20's - 30's cruise than the clientele on this ship),we grab a beer to take to the cabin to unpack.
Tonight we decide to just eat in the main dining room - we just have a starter and main each and a glass of chardonnay - all of which were good. The show in the theatre is advertised as a Soul Show and sounds quite appealing so with drinks in hand we take a seat. It was actually a very good show with ex-members of the Drifters so the singing and dancing was great. Afterwards we go to The Cosmos Lounge to listen to some music before ending up at Cafe Al Baccio to listen to a lovely string duet while finishing the day with speciality coffee and homemade cookies.
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