While traveling to China with girlfriends several years ago, we decided to separate for a week. They went to Beijing, a city I had visited twice before, and I went to Hong Kong. There was only one thing on my agenda: to see an obscure monastery that I had read about and could not get out of my head.
It’s called the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and—since I have a minor obsession with all things Buddha—I swore to myself that I would visit this place if I were ever in Hong Kong. I could barely find anything online about it. There was hardly any mention of the monastery in the Lonely Planet Hong Kong guidebook either. The description made it sound like it was a place that could be ignored. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to the review. When I finally arrived at the monastery, I quickly discovered that this place simply cannot be missed.
It is vital to get precise directions before you begin your adventure, because you can’t see the monastery from the road that takes you there. It is perched on top of a hill and requires a hike to get to it (expect around a 30-minute walk). The hike began in a bamboo forest and I truly felt like I was in ancient China.
As I approached the top, countless golden Buddha statues began to emerge. They were on either side of the path and each had a different facial expression. Despite its name, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery actually has more like thirty thousand Buddhas; every year more and more are added. To be surrounded by that many holy statues evoked such a peaceful feeling within me. I completely forgot that I was in one of the largest cities in the world.
At the top of the hill, I was greeted by a massive pagoda, several temples and even more Buddhas. During my visit, there were no other tourists around; I had the entire place to myself, minus some monks and nuns who were deep in prayer. I spent several hours wandering around and admiring the magnificent grounds. Unfortunately I had to leave earlier than I wanted to since I had a taxi waiting for me and another monastery to check out. However, I will forever remember my experience at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery thanks to its beauty and serenity. What it made it extra special was that it is a hidden gem—and there are so few of those left in this world!
Andi Perullo was a semi-finalist in our 2010 India Photo Contest. An avid traveler, she has visited about 40 countries…and counting. So far in 2010 Andi has been a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger and her website was voted Top 100 Independent Travel Websites. When she is not exploring the far reaches of the world, Andi practices Chinese Medicine in her hometown of Charlotte, NC.