I wonder if there aren't as many steps to get there as there are Buddha statues in the monastery in the end?
However, whatever you do, don't take the escalator. While it may seem like a great idea – it's terribly nice of the Hong Kong tourist bureau to organise an escalator up to the monastery, isn't it – it is a big mistake to take the escalator. Trust me on this. I speak from experience.
2011, the first time I visited the 10 000 Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong, I did exactly that, I got off the MRT, the Metro, spotted the escalator, and thought to myself how unexpected yet clever, and I took the escalator. While it in itself lead to an interesting experience, it also made me walk a lot further than I otherwise would have had to…
You see, the escalator takes you to a burial place. The burial place is beautiful and very serene, but unless you actually planned to go there it's rather frustrating when you realise you have to go down all the stairs to get to where you really want to be, and then you have to climb up again. It definitely feels like you are climbing some 10000 steps and more – but of course that is not the case, even if the monastery indeed is on a hill.
Taking the correct stairs up you walk as if in a tunnel, surrounded by fences and with golden buddha statues watching your every step. Over you you have a ceiling of green, the leaves from the trees.
And once you finally found the way up to the 10 000 Buddhas Monastery, it is an amazing experience.
10000 buddhas monastery is found on the way out to the New Territories, in Sha Tin －沙田區 (Shatianqu, pinyin, Shatin is the English name, although literately the first character means sand and the second field, where the third is area). It's location is gorgeous. Notice how the buddhas in the stairs area different, each seem to almost have a personality. This is an area where the air always seem clearer, where the smog that can hit Hong Kong never really seem to reach, and it is so indescribable peaceful. When you get up to the monastery itself the view is stunning and it is normally very peaceful in the big square at the top of the stairs, and the red and the gold that the temple is painted in is stunning, in the lush green environment, against the blue sky. When you come up the stairs, you realise that all that climbing, it was worth it.
This is not an ancient construction, it is a temple – well, actually five – that were built in modern time, and if you are lucky you may even see some statue painters retouching the statues, because it is constantly maintained. It is also not a traditional monastery, no monks or nuns lives here. It is slightly off the beaten track.
But it is one of the most magical places in Hong Kong.