Shrouded in mists on a mountain top on Lantau Island sits the Tian Tian Buddha. The largest outdoor seated Buddha in the world exudes a sense of peaceful welcome, even while towering over the surrounding valleys and mountains. One of the ways to reach Ngong Ping Village and see the Tian Tian Buddha is to risk crossing Lantau Island in a cable car, a box of glass and metal suspended only be a series of cables gracefully arcing over water and land.
The Ngong Ping cable car was not my first experience with a cable car. About a year previously we had ridden the Sandia Peak Tramway outside of Albuquerque. I read that it was one of the longest cable cars in the world, and was so excited to ride to the top of the mountain. I’m usually not that scared of heights. Flying in planes doesn’t bother me; hiking near steep mountain drop-offs doesn’t usually bother me. So, I was unprepared for the terror that I would feel as our cable car soared out over jagged rocks, slowly moving up the side of the Sandia Peak. While my then almost two year old exhilarated in the ride up the side of the mountain, I sat crouched down on the floor of the cable car trying not to envision the precariousness of a single cable holding up the cable car with a drop below onto jagged rocks that would almost certainly mean instant death if something went wrong. Meanwhile, my delighted little girl giggled and said, “Pick me up, mama! Pick me up!” So, I alternated between holding her up and cringing in terror.
When I heard about the Ngong Ping Cable Car, I wanted to ride it. Why, you may ask? I think I’m addicted to new and unique experiences, especially if they are travel related. If it’s the longest, biggest, highest or most beautiful I want to give it a try. Terror settled in my stomach as I remembered riding the Sandia Peak Tramway, but how could I resist soaring over Lantau Island on my way to see the Tian Tian Buddha? Even if I was terrified the entire time? When I expressed concern about being scared, my sweet little girl smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry, Mama. I’ll help you and protect you.” At that point I knew that even if I was afraid, I would face my demons and ride that cable car. Especially when I could simultaneously teach my little girl about facing fears. And give her the chance to let her kind little heart shine in helping me overcome mine.
The wait to ride the cable car was actually rather long. I think we stood in line for an hour and a half. That was somewhat unexpected, and the long wait made me more nervous. Finally, it was our turn to board. The Ngong Ping cable car sailed gently out of the station and out over the South China Sea. Maybe it was the bravery and kindness of my sweet little girl, maybe it was the more horizontal journey that reminded me of clouds blowing gently through the sky, or maybe the length of the ride gave me time to work through my fear, but the ride was actually very enjoyable. We passed over water and mountains. Ancient foot trails along the ridges of the mountains were visible below us. The water sparkled when the sun managed to peak out from behind the clouds. Our family had a relaxing (eventually) time together talking and singing as we sailed through the sky. I almost wish I had been brave enough to ride one of the cars with a glass bottom. If we ever go back, I think I’ll give it a try.