17 November 2008

lantau, part ii

i did not hesitate to return to conquer lantau island.  it was an excellent, outdoors day.  after getting an earlier start on the day (umm, 11am), ryan and i took the train, then a bus, to the base of the tallest hill/mountain/summit/peak on lantau, lantau peak, appropriately enough.  time to do my best sir edmund hillary.

this was the view when we started on what was an innocent enough nature trail.  my camera doesn't really capture the size of these ridges, or my perspective.  what we saw was a ridge, with a taller ridge behind it, with a taller ridge behind it, lantau peak.  we were in for a hike.

this is how we hiked up --- massive stone steps.  at many points during the ascent, we were climbing up at 45 degrees.  looking forward, all i saw was mountain.  each step took a giant, leg bent at 90 degree lift.  and i'll be damned if i can figure out just how they built this trail, other than forcing laborers to carry really heavy stones, really far, far up.

the views were incredible, especially near the top of the peak.  i could see the whole island, especially, many dramatic cliffs and mountains.

finally, after about two hours of climbing, we made it to the summit.  looking back... and out.  it was a hazy day, so our views from the peak were limited mostly to silhouettes.

there's my proof.  934 meters.  and we started from only a few hundred feet above sea level.  climbed with the best shoes i have here --- my sandals.  i was disappointed that we did not encounter a kung fu master at the peak.
the hike down the other face of the peak was even more dramatic --- a constant drop without any breaks, practically jumping down from rock to rock, steep drops on each side.  

yes, virginia, all the way up there.

at the end of the trail we ran across two great sights.  the first was this stonehenge-like monument to the heart sutra.  the posts as 40-foot tall halved logs with chinese characters engraved in the side.  very cool stuff.

then, finally, we finished with a trip to the tian tan buddha, the tallest seated outdoor bhudda in all of asia, almost 100 feet tall and 250 tonnes in weight.  badass.  if only it were 1000 years old, not 15... after destroying our legs climbing, ryan and i took the fabled lantau cable car back down to the train to return home, which also offered some great views.  

a very solid trip.  and as soon as we got back, we finally bought our tickets for thailand and japan.  so.  so.  excited.

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