"You are fooled by your mind into believing there is tomorrow, so you may waste today."
We stopped wasting our days, and woke up early to come up with a plan. As imagined, it was a very productive, successful, and enjoyable day! Which is what we all needed by this point.
Sam absolutely loves Buddha's, so our group of seven headed to the World's largest seated Buddha. It took about an hour to get there, but when we walked out of the metro station elementary aged kids greeted us. They were handing out Happy New Years cards that they each personally made, and practicing their English. I was extremely impressed with how well they spoke English.
We could either hike or take a gondola ride to the top of the mountain. We all decided we had enough exercise for one port and took the gondola ride. It was so worth paying for too; the view was amazing! Someone had a knockoff Beats speaker (from the markets), so we played some music and enjoyed the ride up the mountain. It was kind of a foggy day, but in my opinion it made the view even more spectacular. With each side of the gondola, there was a completely different view. On one side I was able to see the ocean, another the city, and the other the green mountains. At one point, we passed by one of the small mountains and there was a woman sitting there, who appeared to be meditating. At that moment, I wish I had hiked just so I could have done the same. I thought it fit perfectly with the Chinese culture and the giant Buddha.
Once we reached the top, we had to do a little walking to actually reach the Buddha. We hiked up a ton of stairs, but it was worth it. The Buddha was HUGE! I don't know exactly how big it actually was, but it was the World's largest seated Buddha! Though I didn't learn anything about Buddhism in this particular moment, I am really enjoying being able to experience it. After what I did learn during my field lab in Japan, it is a very peaceful religion. What I took away from the Buddhist priest I met was that Buddhist is about the self, learning to enjoy the moment and what is right in front of you, all to reach internal happiness.
The combination of the view from the gondola ride and the view from the top of the giant Buddha, I was overcome with serenity. To me, that feeling was a preview of how Buddhist must feel everyday. It was truly breathtaking. I keep talking about these "breathtaking and amazing" views, and I'm realizing those "wow" moments are everywhere in the world. All we have to do is look up. But the combination of daily stress, worries, and all the technology we have in the world, I feel like a lot of us, including myself, miss out on those moments. Not having access to Facebook, Twitter, Insagram, and even texting, has forced me look up, literally. As much as people want to believe that the world isn't right in front of us, but rather on a small 5-inch screen, it really isn't. And things like this view, have made me realize that stressful things happen, it is a part of life. But those challenges aren't worth missing out on the things that really matter.
I forget if I shared with you the game that we play… Whenever we are all talking, if someone has a random question, like "who was the first person you kissed?" Everyone has to go around and share. It is a great way to get to know each other and a great way to reflect on life. So as we were on our way down from the giant Buddha, someone asked, "what is your biggest fear?" Obviously mine was heights, and we were pretty high up when the question was asked! But we decided it had to be a legit fear, not something like heights or snakes. That wasn't something I had ever really thought of before, so I was able to reflect on what I was truly scared. And I decided my biggest fear is not figuring out who I am or my purpose in life. I have a quote in my room at home that says, "Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself." I love this quote, because it is so true. But how do we ever know if we "created ourselves"? And I know, everyone has a purpose in life and I don't know what mine is and that freaks me out. I don't want to be on my deathbed feeling like I didn't make a difference in the world or that I never figured out what my purpose was in this world. I know with time those two fears will be settled, hopefully, but I guess you could say the unknown about those fears is what scares me.
Anyway, seeing the giant Buddha took up majority of our day, which was okay with me. Once we got back to the main area of Hong Kong, we got a room at the hostel that Chelsea and Quinn were staying at. I have to say it was a pretty interest experience for Sam, Heather, and I. When we walked into the room the sink, toilet, and shower were all in one small area with no walls separating them. Excuse my language, but it definitely is where the saying "shit, shower, and shave" came from!
We hung out in the room and rested a little bit before getting ready for an adventurous night out in Hong Kong! We grabbed a quick dinner and headed to our favorite place… 7 eleven! People bought drinks, I decided to spend my money on chocolate, and we went to the night market. It was basically the same thing as in Shanghai, but they didn't have as great of stuff. I bought a few gifts and just enjoyed spending time with my friends.
Around 1 am we made our way to a New York pizza place right as they were closing. They ended up giving up pizza at a discounted price and before they closed they gave us the rest of the pizza for free, since it was going to be thrown out. Everyone decided they wanted to head to bed except for Trevor, Heather, Sam, Justin, and I. So the five of us walked around the harbor area and found our way to a playground.
We all ended up laying down on each other's stomachs looking up at the stars and started playing the question game again. We all started sharing some deep secrets about our lives that you typically would never ask a person. It really opened my eyes to how great they all were and I was really glad to call them all my friends. It has only been a month of this amazing adventure, which is crazy to think about, but these people are more than my friends; they are my family. It was one of those moments, like the breathtaking view from the giant Buddha that I can't really explain. But it was a really good feeling.
I know I keep talking about all these "feelings" and deep stuff, but now it is your turn to experience one of those moments! It sounds stupid and I'm not joking, I want you to try this! Once you finish reading this, go stand outside. I know you are probably saying, "that's a sick joke, it's the middle of winter!" But I'm serious, it will take 5 minutes! Close your eyes, try to clear your mind as you feel the cold air on your face, and take a few deep breaths. Open your eyes and take in the world around you. It is a beautiful place, right?
Even though I'm traveling the world experiencing these "wow" moments, you don't have to travel to be filled with that feeling of "this is truly an amazing place." Those breathtaking views are right outside your window. All you need to do is put down the cellphone and let go of the worries, challenges, and stresses of life.