Yum Cha! That’s how my Tuesday began. For those on the outskirts of or far removed from the Cantonese circle, “Yum Cha” literally means “drink tea”, but you do a hell of a lot more than that. Yes, you drink a lot of tea, but you also stuff your face with all sorts of magical yumminess. I’m talking dumplings, sweet eggs, squid, Cha siu bao (Cantonese barbecue-pork-filled bun), Har gow (shrimp dumplings), chicken feet (not keen; too slimy for 11am) and a whole host of other dim sum… and din sum more (oh dear). Yum Cha = yum, yum… and a little more yum right at cha. (Ok, I’ll stop now). This feast took place in Central HK Island, but there are Yum Cha restaurants all over the place. Don’t miss out. It’s the most authentic Cantonese breakfast you’ll get out there.
From there, we followed the path of Enlightenment (aka, paid about a tenner for a cable car, www.np360.com.hk/) to go and visit Mr Big Buddha, located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. Before we said a personal hello to Tian Tan Buddha (a ten year old large bronze statue of a Buddha Amoghasiddhi), we lit a selection of incense sticks, made a customary wish, and left our dreams burning along with all the other prayers and desires; all of which contributed towards an eerie, smoky haze which suffocated the land. Turning a corner, we were greeted by a rather unexpected performance. Blinking the tears away and fanning the incense aside, the air cleared to reveal a group of monks engaged in a certain type of combat. There were sticks and stones and almost broken bones… but these guys didn’t so much as wince when the canes cracked on their backs. Their bones were the sole tools used to break the bars that bludgeoned their bodies. Every fibre of their being radiated strength. They were untouchable, unbreakable. Unbelievable.
When we were done admiring their mad skills, it was time for the main attraction. To reach Big Buddha you must look within yourself to find the inner strength needed to climb the gazillion steps leading up to his permanent place of residence (yes, it’s a long way up… a lot of steps… take water). Unfortunately, our ascent was a rather foggy one. We reached the top and could just about glimpse Amoghasiddhi’s shadow, teasing us from behind the thick clouds. My fellow travellers bowed before Big Buddha and after a few minutes of silent prayer, the clouds miraculously parted and our eyes drank in the now crystal clear sight. A snap of a camera later and the mist returned… but we were treated to a moment of utter clarity.
In the evening, we rested our weary bones at Greyhound (www.greyhoundcafe.com.hk/) and indulged in a pretty dishy fishy. Then we hung up our sobriety at Pulp (https://www.facebook.com/pulphk). Upon parting ways, I decided it wasn’t time for bed so I explored Causeway Bay solo and then gate-crashed my way into a group of travellers evening tipple – this time on the fourth floor terrace. They weren’t as friendly as the previous bunch of globe-trotters so I de-crashed myself out of there and retired to bunk number six of room number five.