Big Buddha and the Big Wind

Our hotel must be well constructed. From our perch on the 21st floor, we can see a light rain falling. But we hear virtually no sounds from the streets below.

It’s only when we attempt to go outside that we realize todays inclement weather is not just a light drizzle but a full blown storm. Technically, it is a “Signal 3 Typhoon.”

Typhoon warnings are posted in Hong Kong

What’s the difference among a typhoon, cyclone or hurricane? Not much, really, except the direction the wind blows (counter-clockwise in the north; clockwise below the equator). Other than that, they are bad storms with lots of precipitation and sustained heavy winds.

This storm is mostly about the wind, which, as it happens is appropriate for this particular day. In Chinese, tai fung means “big wind.” That term is derived from a Portuguese word which arrived, no doubt, from Hong Kong’s nearby neighbor and former Portuguese colony, Macao. The term can also be traced to Arabic and even Greek (tuphōn, or whirlwind in that ancient language.)

We might not have known at all about the storm had we not stepped out to the balcony on the 10th floor, where the wind is fierce enough that they have to keep the doors locked in place.

Hong Kong’s Big Buddha is really, really big.

This pretty much kills our plans to visit the Tian Tan Buddha high atop a mountain at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. The bronze statue, affectionately known as “Big Buddha” is supposed to symbolize the harmonius relationship between people and nature.

Harmony, indeed. Mother Nature wins this round.

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