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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"You're only young once but you can be immature forever." -- Anonymous

307--China: Hong Kong: Aberdeen and the Big Buddha
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 20 2005 - 05:23 PST
cherie writes: Flashback: January 2005
A few centuries ago, the floating city of Aberdeen was a hide-out for pirates. Now the harbor is a refuge for a different kind of rogue—“boat people.” Aberdeen’s “boat people” have shunned society’s restrictions and formed their own community on the water.

Unfortunately, many complain that Hong Kong’s “boat people” are derelict and an eyesore. Men strangled by ties and trapped inside a square of false light and buzzing technology, gaze down from their cubes and judge the vagabonds below as unfortunate. The "riffraff" smile peacefully to themselves, finding humor in the irony of the situation: a man caged in an office all day feels sorry for the "bum" who wakes up to an ocean view and leisurely spends his days fishing. Local businessmen may say the “boat people” are odd, but I think the eccentricity of Aberdeen Harbor brings the city of Hong Kong another dimension of charm.

Aberdeen Harbor is alive with boats that have just as much character as their owners, just as a crooked tooth often makes a man more attractive.

Hong Kong’s ultra-modernization has crept into the simple life of the peaceful fishing village with skyscrapers towering over the shabby docks. No wonder Chinese people call their boats "junks," the harbor is alive with dead boats. Taking a sampan ride through Aberdeen Harbor gives you a glimpse into another way of life—a world of barely floating junks and sampans juxtaposed against the steel and glass of Hong Kong’s contemporary architecture.

After Scott, Margaret and I took a ride through the Aberdeen Harbor, Margaret and I headed for Lantau Island to see the “Big Buddha”, also known as the Tian Tan Buddha.

The Big Buddha's construction began in 1990 and was finished in 1993 to the tune of 68 million dollars. The Tian Tan Buddha is the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha. (That’s a mouthful and the Big Buddha is an eyeful!) You have to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha which was formed out of 202 pieces of cast bronze.

A couple hundred tons in weight, the Big Buddha sits perched on the Ngon Ping plateau near the Po Lin Monastery. The Po Lin Monastery (which translates to Precious Lotus Monastery) was built by three Zen Masters in 1920. They have massive incense perpetually burning in the Buddha’s honor.

This Buddha is unique not just because of its size, but because of the fact that He faces North (most large Buddhas face South). There’s a Big Bell inside the Big Buddha that was designed to ring 108 times a day (or every seven minutes.) Alledgedly inside the Tian Tan Buddha are also some of the cremated remains of the Buddha Sakyamuni.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Cherie, Margaret and Scott on our sampan ride in Aberdeen.  Behind us is the famous floating restaurant "Jumbo."

Cherie, Margaret and Scott on our sampan ride in Aberdeen. Behind us is the famous floating restaurant "Jumbo."

The sampans are charming little boats that resemble tiny tug boats--they have more tires than a truck!

The sampans are charming little boats that resemble tiny tug boats--they have more tires than a truck!

Cherie makes friends with our Sampan driver.  He's not used to American girls hugging him, but I think he likes it.

Cherie makes friends with our Sampan driver. He's not used to American girls hugging him, but I think he likes it.

The side of the Aberdeen Harbor rests against a concrete forest.

The side of the Aberdeen Harbor rests against a concrete forest.

That's a lot of steel and glass juxtaposed against a quaint fishing village.

That's a lot of steel and glass juxtaposed against a quaint fishing village.

The wooden docks are in shambles, while the concrete city grows like a weed.

The wooden docks are in shambles, while the concrete city grows like a weed.

Anyone want to join the Aberdeen Harbor Yacht Club?

Anyone want to join the Aberdeen Harbor Yacht Club?

Scott, Margaret and Cherie continue their journey through Aberdeen Harbor (with complimentary hats included while you ride.)

Scott, Margaret and Cherie continue their journey through Aberdeen Harbor (with complimentary hats included while you ride.)

No!!!  My hat fell off!

No!!! My hat fell off!

We have a conference and quickly begin the "hat rescue mission."

We have a conference and quickly begin the "hat rescue mission."

I got it, and in the process put on quite a show for the local "boat-people."

I got it, and in the process put on quite a show for the local "boat-people."

No wonder Chinese people call their boats "junks."

No wonder Chinese people call their boats "junks."

Two centuries ago the floating city of Aberdeen used to be a pirate's hide-out.

Two centuries ago the floating city of Aberdeen used to be a pirate's hide-out.

Now Aberdeen Harbor is a refuge for a different kind of rogue--the "boat people" (and their pets!)

Now Aberdeen Harbor is a refuge for a different kind of rogue--the "boat people" (and their pets!)

A boater navigates through the crowded mess of boats.

A boater navigates through the crowded mess of boats.

The colorful roof of our sampan boat.

The colorful roof of our sampan boat.

Hong Kong's ultra-modernization has crept into the life of this unique fishing village.

Hong Kong's ultra-modernization has crept into the life of this unique fishing village.

If your're hungry, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the local floating restaurants.

If your're hungry, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the local floating restaurants.

Or you can eat with the "boat people".

Or you can eat with the "boat people".

Just remember, a floating restaurant is always better than a sinking restaurant.

Just remember, a floating restaurant is always better than a sinking restaurant.

Scott relaxes on the boat ride.

Scott relaxes on the boat ride.

A cruise around the harbor gives you a glimpse into another way of life.

A cruise around the harbor gives you a glimpse into another way of life.

Our sampan driver.

Our sampan driver.

Margaret wants to be the ship Captain!

Margaret wants to be the ship Captain!

Cherie and Scott play in the plane--we traveled all through China via train.

Cherie and Scott play in the plane--we traveled all through China via train.

You know, I think we have more leg room when we travel by train.

You know, I think we have more leg room when we travel by train.

Ready for school?  We can't help but play for a bit in the Hong Kong park.

Ready for school? We can't help but play for a bit in the Hong Kong park.

Sliding home.

Sliding home.

One of Hong Kong's lush parks.

One of Hong Kong's lush parks.

You'd never know this patch of green was tucked between the skyscrapers.

You'd never know this patch of green was tucked between the skyscrapers.

Funky architecture.

Funky architecture.

Cherie and Margaret by a fountain.

Cherie and Margaret by a fountain.

Modern buildings are repaired with bamboo scaffolding.

Modern buildings are repaired with bamboo scaffolding.

Bamboo traces the building's edge.

Bamboo traces the building's edge.

Busy Hong Kong streets.

Busy Hong Kong streets.

Anyone in the mood for a dried snack?

Anyone in the mood for a dried snack?

Sometimes it is better not to ask what you are eating.

Sometimes it is better not to ask what you are eating.

Cherie with the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.

Cherie with the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.

Depending on who you talk to, the Buddha weighs between 200 and 250 tons.

Depending on who you talk to, the Buddha weighs between 200 and 250 tons.

The Tian Tan Buddha is the world's largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha.

The Tian Tan Buddha is the world's largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha.

Cherie takes a closer look at the "immortals" which surround the Buddha and make offerings.

Cherie takes a closer look at the "immortals" which surround the Buddha and make offerings.

The Big Buddha sits on the Ngon Ping plateu on Lantau Island.

The Big Buddha sits on the Ngon Ping plateu on Lantau Island.

The Big Buddha was formed out of 202 pieces of cast bronze.

The Big Buddha was formed out of 202 pieces of cast bronze.

The Big Buddha's construction began in 1990 and was finished in 1993 to the tune of 68 million dollars.

The Big Buddha's construction began in 1990 and was finished in 1993 to the tune of 68 million dollars.

This Buddha is unique not just because of its size, but because of the fact that he faces North.  (Most large Buddhas face South.)

This Buddha is unique not just because of its size, but because of the fact that he faces North. (Most large Buddhas face South.)

Margaret by the giant sticks of insense by the Po Lin Monastery.

Margaret by the giant sticks of insense by the Po Lin Monastery.

The Po Lin Monastery was built by three Zen Masters in 1920 and means "Precious Lotus Monastery".

The Po Lin Monastery was built by three Zen Masters in 1920 and means "Precious Lotus Monastery".

You have to climb up 268 steps to get to the Buddha.  Unless you are lazy, then you can drive up a road to the top.

You have to climb up 268 steps to get to the Buddha. Unless you are lazy, then you can drive up a road to the top.