Remember Star Cafe from the first day? Well, we decided to have our breakfast there on the third day of our trip! It was just a three minute walk from our hotel, at the basement of Champagne Court. It was hidden in a right turn and every other shop in the area was shuttered.
Star Cafe specialised in tomato soup noodles; therefore I ordered one. Clara got a ham and egg sandwich, and Clara’s mom got a cheese version of the tomato soup noodles. I was quite surprised they used actual tomatoes in the soup, and not tomato puree. As a result, it tasted more natural. The soup was thick at first, then thinned as it got nearer to the bottom of the bowl, so I think I was supposed to mix it first. Clara remarked that her sandwich was delicious and she enjoyed it to a great extent! The owner did mention that they used actual tomatoes in their soup, and a lot of Singapoeans actually visit them (thanks to the publicity from food reviews, I presume).
Having had a hearty breakfast, we set off to take the MTR, for the first time, to Tung Chung station, switching lines at Lai King, where we would be boarding a Ngong Ping 360 cable car to pay the Tian Tan Buddha a visit!
Alighting at Tung Chung station, we passed by Citygate Outlets, a mall I visited twice on prior trips, on the way to the cable car station. There were two queues, one for on-site ticket purchases and the other for online tickets. The funny thing was, the online ticket queue was longer and moving comparably slower. It defeated the point of buying online, which was to skip the queues!
Luckily, we got the tickets to the crystal cabin and the boarding queue for that was much shorter. We had to share a cabin with a group of New Zealanders and British tourists, and Clara’s mom struck up a conversation with them (which I thought was better than listening to the audio tour that failed to work anyway). They appeared very amused when the doggies came out of our bags for photos hahaha!
We were halfway over a sea when all cabins jerked to a halt. A notification told us that a passenger required medical assistance, and so service would be paused for a moment. A blessing in disguise, as we had amazing 300-degree views of Tung Chung Bay (because the ceiling was opaque)!
The crystal cabin with its glass bottom was significantly pricier but I thought it added another dimension as compared to the typical cable car experience, when the cabin floor would be made of metal. We could see boats sailing in the sea directly beneath us, trails on the mountains and even hikers taking a break! The air was still hazy, but it was not as bad as the night before. Finally, the Buddha came into view, and so did the rest of Ngong Ping Village.
We were disappointed to find that the only Christmas decoration there was a half-hearted structure at the entrance. How not to be, when we’ve read that there were character-themed decorations in years past! Nevertheless, we made our way past the touristy souvenir shops towards the Big Buddha.
Along the way, our attention was captured by what were a number of bulls roaming the grounds. Groups of tourists crowded around each of them, and we did the same. They were gentle creatures – in the end, we even managed to take a few selfies with one!
And then we were before the Tian Tan Buddha. It sat on top a long flight of stairs (a staggering 268 steps in total), and looked mightily impressive. We opted not to climb the stairs, and looked at it from the landing. We did not go to the Po Lin Monstery either, instead choosing to wait for bus 21 that would take us to Tai O fishing village. Clara’s mom got beancurd and peanut desserts from a stall and we sat there to rest.
In our humble opinion Ngong Ping wasn’t all it was hyped up to be, and we wouldn’t necessarily deem it a must-see. We highly recommend heading to Tai O instead, which was where we were headed to next!