Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

Sunday, May 22
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

Day two was looking to be a wet one, as the sky continuously emptied itself over our heads. But what can you do but grab a couple of umbrellas and accept you're going to get wet?

Thanks to some detailed directions found online, we took the appropriate trains and walked along and behind the IKEA to find the base of the walking path that would challenge our step-counting skills once again, and lead us to this famous monastery hidden in the bamboo forest of Shatin.

Contrary to what the looks of the path may first have you believe, the ten thousand Buddhas for which the monastery is named are all located within the temple, not along the path. The gilded life-sized Arhan statues number more than 500, and are with you every step (of the 431) of the way. On this rainy day, we decided to take full advantage of their presence along our squishy hike.

It was like being cheered on by the happiest, silliest pals.

A high-five to begin our journey!

Why not stop for a song?

As many of the Arhan statues were cute, little, old men, I was kind of in heaven :) My Papa Little is responsible for instilling in me the appreciation and adoration of even the grumpiest, old men. They all look like grandpas to me. (Diane, you would have loved it!)

Chris and the woodwind guy having a disagreement over the inclement weather as we made our way up, up, up to the top.

Almost there...it's just over that way.

Clearly, we didn't take pictures of every single statue, but they were all different in posture and expression.

What's aaaaaaaaapppppppppp! You made it!

Welcome to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. May I look into your soul?

The front of the monastery that houses the Ten Thousand Buddhas. In front is a courtyard with a nine-story pagoda lined with more golden Buddhas, the Kwun Yam Pavilion, and many more statues. 

From the covered veranda of the temple, we took it in.

This is where over 13,000 unique Buddha statues rest, each in a different pose and with a different facial expression. A tiny plaque is affixed to each base with the name of the person who donated it to the temple.
Talk about feeling overwhelmed.

The preserved corpse of the monastery's founder Reverend Yuet Kai on display before the alter inside

Taking cover during a particularly hard burst of rain

To the left, the pagoda lined with golden Buddha statues looking out over the courtyard and forest below.                     To the right, the Kwun Yam Pavilion.

From within the pagoda, where each level has a centrally seated Buddha and several outward facing ones lining the walls and spiral stairs that take you to the top.

 Back out on the rain-soaked terrace, the statues were varied and intricate. 

Oops! Don't want to get any wetter!

Time for another vegetaria monastery lunch - out of the rain.

A little timid about how to proceed, we shook out our umbrellas and watched the other patrons of this little room lined with modest tables and plastic stools. Not sure we'd find a menu in English, we seated ourselves and hoped for the best. A woman soon approached, dropped plastic cups and spoons at our table, filling our cups with hot water from the tea kettle (to wash our utensils we would later learn). Without meaning to, we ended up ordering some spring rolls and enough soup to feed the room, but it was a nice break from the weather. 

After a while, we were ready to walk the rest of the monastery grounds, which consisted of several more temples on the upper level. Some of these temples contain ancestral tablets, while others house the ashes of the deceased. 

There were some renovations going on, so we tip-toed
around and got peeks where we could.
One of my favorite things about this part of our trip was finding incredible stillness in the midst of a very crowded and busy place. It was something we came across again and again as the days went on, and each time I felt compelled to stop for a moment and breathe. It was a nice reminder.

Past the far end of the upper level veranda was this amazingly bright statue of Kwum Yam, accompanied by a bunch more golden statues perched upon the nearby rocks.
I couldn't resist getting a close-up of my bearded friend looking rather Scottish on the rocks.

After our visit felt complete, we trudged down the wet steps back into the world below, but not before coming across a Buddhist worship service going on in a small neighborhood temple perched along a modest stream. We listened to their prayers, chanted in unison, and tried not to linger as the people said their goodbyes and drizzled out onto the narrow streets.
We finally reached the back of the IKEA again and began making our way back to Kowloon to check out some markets there, ready with camera in hand to continue the attempt to capture the spirit of this amazing place.

1 comment:

  1. I liked the stillness amidst the crowded and busy life. That's something I can appreciate.