That whole “it’s the journey not the destination” thing has always been a little suspect to me. I’m not the best with inherited wisdom, but this one is just a little extra reductive isn’t it?
On the one hand: Sure. Yeah, the end of anything wouldn’t be the same without the struggle that got you there. Yeah, sure, the odyssey might be the actual meat and development of any story.
On the other: Most of us wouldn’t leave the house without a decently enticing destination, and that whole stopping at the end thing is what gives people the time to reflect on the journey. But then if you want to argue that getting to the end is inseparable from the journey itself….
(This idea must be a bastardisation of the Emerson quote “Life is a journey, not a destination.” But that’s such an obviously different idea that it’s not what I’m talking about at all. )
It just all seems a little contrived. “Keep your head up, keep working, but don’t worry if you don’t actually achieve your goals” is actually terrible advice after a certain point. Maybe you don’t need to keep doing the same thing in the same way, which is also a pretty great quote. Maybe what you need is to work harder or differently. Sure, maybe don’t obsess over certain measurements of success, but also don’t discount measurability entirely.
I’m getting distracted. Obviously I could go back and forth like that forever, but for this post, we will actually just move on.
I think my favorite thing we did in Hong Kong was visit the Tian Tan Buddha. The statue is located on the island of Lantau, which was almost too inconvenient for me and my group of tired weekenders. Friday night, after an unexpectedly sweaty hike up to the top of Victoria’s Peak, my friends and I turned to Google Maps (every millennial traveler’s best friend) to figure out how to get to the Buddha. The answer was a trip of more than two hours. Tired from a hike and work and life and such, this didn’t sound too appealing.
We decided to sleep on it and see what we felt like in the morning. Rolling out of bed at 9ish, we decided we didn’t have any better ideas of how to spend our day, and grudgingly got on the first of two packed trains.
By the second train, we were all in noticeably better moods. The train from Hong Kong Station to Tung Chung Station spends a lot of time above ground, giving you new perspectives on all of the islands that comprise and surround Hong Kong.
And then! When you finally land on Lantau, it’s time for the Ngong Ping Cable Car. This was probably my favorite part of the entire day actually. I cannot emphasise this enough: get to the cable cars as early as you can. The cable cars open around 10. Be there then. We got to Tung Chung about an hour after the cable cars opened, and we stood in line for probably half an hour. By the time we got back down from the Buddha, the lines were hours long, which would have taken away from the situation immensely.
The cable car ride lasts around half an hour, and takes you over some truly stunning scenery. There are mountains and waterfalls and some ocean below you. About halfway through our ride, I noticed that there is a trail almost directly below the cable cars. We sailed over a few scattered groups struggling up and down ridiculously long flights of stairs, and I would smile and wave and yell “MASOCHIST” in their general direction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally a fan of hiking. If we’d been in Hong Kong for much longer I probably would have done one of the many hikes around the Buddha. But there is a certain sick satisfaction in literally flying over people who are voluntarily walking up mountains. See? Journey, destination, pretty sure I made the right choice there.
I really loved the cable car rides though. We had an absolutely unparalleled view of the area, absolutely better than the hikers’. I won’t always advocate the cop out version of the journey, but this was absolutely worth it.
The Buddha statue was also incredible! And the Po Lin monastery is ornate and beautiful. And there are hiking trails and things all around both. And there is a whole traditional style village of expensive food and souvenirs. When we were there, a dance troupe was performing dressed as butterflies. If you have time, go visit the traditional fishing villages on the island too. We didn’t get to do this and wished we did, but it is what it is.
So while I stand by my suspicion of the much attributed idea, this time, the (intimidating) journey (of sitting on a train) actually was just as fun/great/impressive as the destination.