Much of Hong Kong felt like a tourist trap – all of the temples and parks were set up with newer buildings that were meant to look ‘authentic’ and were selling souvenirs. I was pretty disgusted when I got to the top of the peak on Lantau Island, on my way to see the Big Buddha, and I passed a Subway restaurant in one of these ‘authentic’ buildings…. So it was a breath of fresh air when I arrived at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery on the outskirts of Hong Kong. The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (TTBM) was the least ‘touristy’ place I visited in Hong Kong and I really enjoyed it!
I took the train to the Shatin station and walked from there to the TTBM. I had read that it was a pretty hard temple to find and I tried to follow several of the directions posted on Trip Advisor. When traveling, I always try to find my way by foot and if all else fails I take a taxi. I could see the TTBM perched high on the mountain so I decided to start walking towards the mountain. Shatin is not as tourist friendly as the other places in Hong Kong so there weren’t as many signs in English and there were NO signs pointing towards the TTBM. After wandering around for a good 45 minutes I decided to take a cab (cab’s are super cheap in HK!). I told the cab driver where I wanted to go and I was pretty luck that he was honest enough to tell me: a) it was easier to walk up the path and pointed me in the right direction and b) that he didn’t know how to get there by car. I headed in the direction the taxi driver pointed me in and I continued to get lost. I ended up in a buddhist burial place half way up the mountain. When I finally realized I still wasn’t in the right place I asked for help (great thing about HK: you can ask for help because most people speak English!). The attendant pointed me in the right direction, again. I continued to get lost… I finally asked a man on the street and he directed me to the path… thank god I asked because it was pretty hidden! I have since found this web site which has directions with pictures, so if you ever decide to go make sure you take notes from here!
When I finally started on the path I knew I was at the right place! The walk to the monastery winds up the side of a mountain – there are both stairs and a ramp, but better yet are the statues of the Buddhas that accompany you!
All of the Buddhas varied in expression and design – some were happy, some were sad; some were fat, some were thin; some were merely sitting and some were striking a pose. They weren’t the most well designed statues I’ve ever seen, but they were definitely worth seeing. There weren’t any English postings, so your guess is as good as mine as to what each statue represents!
I was pleasantly surprised when I made it to the top of the hill and not only were the temple, larger statues and view beautiful, but I didn’t have to pay an entrance fee!
I continued up the path to the second level of the monastery to find more gold Buddhas, several larger statues, and a temple hall with some additional deities.
At the time of my visit I didn’t know much about the TTBM but I was pretty content walking around and looking at the statues. Since my return from Hong Kong I’ve learned a little more about the monastery. It was founded in 1949. The temple and surrounding buildings were completed in 1957 and there are actually 13,000 Buddhas – according to this site, the number 10,000 in Cantonese (the Chinese dialect spoken in HK) is used generally to describe a very large number. The founding monk’s body is on display in the main temple hall and is said to be in perfect condition.
I’d definitely suggest checking out this monastery if you make it to Hong Kong. As I said before, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery was a great place to visit and felt more authentic than many of the other tourist spots in Hong Kong.