February 28, 2009 Leave a comment
Spring is great season to roam around. Especially in the month of February, the weather is very cooling and comfortable. Over the past 2 weekends, we have explored the Discovery Bay and the Cheung Chow Island. Today, we decided to explore Hong Kong’s 3rd largest island - the Lamma Island.
Unlike Discovery Bay or Cheung Chow Island, there are 2 ferry stops (Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan) on Lamma Island – Yung Bay is situated on the northern part and Sok Bay is on the eastern side of the island. Lamma Island is located on the southern part of Hong Kong, shaped like the letter "Y" – that explains how it got its Chinese name "南丫島". More popular for its seafood and the hometown of Hong Kong’s superstar Chow Yun Fat. Today, his family still lives on the island.
As this is our first visit to the island, we have absolutely no idea which ferry to take. A little onsite observation (at the central pier) and my last-minute desperate internet research (via iPhone) helped us to plan our trip. Yung Bay is visually clearly the more popular stop – we noticed a lot more people waiting the Yung Bay ferry. There are also more shops at the departure jetty for Yung Bay.
From the research I downloaded from the internet, many visitors will arrive Lamma Island at Yung Bay (the northern part of the island). It offers more shopping, dining and picnic sites than Sok Bay. There is also a beautiful 90-minute "family hiking track" over the hills of Yung to Sok Bay. It made more sense to have 2 ferry piers on the island. For many hikers, they will start their hiking at Yung and ending at Sok. From Sok Bay, they will rest, dine and then head back to Hong Kong. Mmm.. sound like a perfect plan for us too!
At Yung Pier, Lamma Island looks very much like Cheung Chow Island. Lots of old shop houses, floating boat-houses and sea-food restuarants. As we explored deeper into the island, we saw the distinctive difference between the two. Lamma is more arty-farty and hippy than Cheung Chow. We saw many young "angmoh" residents walking their dogs. The retails shops here retail more arty stuffs but mainly imported ones. (Same types of crafts and accessories you can find everywhere.). I feel that they should have produced and offered more of their local icons – like the Green Turtle or even Chow Yun Fat’s dolls!
The overall crowd are mainly locals – unlike Cheung Chow which has a wider mix of toursits and residents. The other main attraction of Lamma Island is the "green-turtle nesting beach" which was located at the southern part of the island. However, this spot was barred from the public during the nesting months (June-Aug). Overall, Lamma is a more peaceful and quiet place.
Lamma is a great place to hike for beginners like us. We took about 2 hours hiking across the 2 piers. Along the way, there are nice shops and food huts where you can rest your aching legs. Do try the HK6 "Granny Sweet Bean Curd" (you can’t miss the hut!). Toilet is located 20-minute walk away so it is advisable to use the toilet at Yung Pier before proceeding. The footpath are nicely paved except there are sections where there are not railings on its sides. There are a couple of steep slopes and I consider them "gentle". The ocean view on the hill slopes is beautiful. From the hill peak, you can see the Power Station at Yung Bay. There is a stretch of clean and quiet beach just 20 minute away from Yung Bay. There are a lot of good spots for picnic or BBQ. The trail also provides many "private side-walks" for lovers who want to spend an undisturbed and romantic time too!
Throughout our 90-minute hike, Felicia and me were panting and aching all over. Elkan was surprisingly active and restless! He was jumping, hoping and running up and down on those steep slopes. It was very dangerous (as some of the tracks didn’t have any safety barriers at the sides). Felicia and I have to match his pace and hold him close to us throughout our hike.
As we are approaching to Sok Bay, we saw an "organic farm" and we bought a couple of freshly plucked vegetables. It was more like Tracy Bay’s haven! We also saw a couple of unimpressive man-made caves (it was mentioned that the Japs made them during the 2nd World War to park their assault boats.) Along the final stretch of our hike, we saw many big empty old houses along the way. If occupied by the right mix of people…this place can be transform into a "Bali-Aussie" hippy island.
Sok Bay is a little disappointing, shopping and seafood dinner were only so-so. There are about 7-8 seafood resturants at Sok Bay but the most prominent one is "Rainbow" – it offers its diners free ferry ride back to Central or Tsim Sha Tsui. Service staffs are friendly but we waited more than 30 minutes for our first dish!
It is another good island to explore and we will certainly come back for more. Time to rest my feet now ~ Enjoy our pixs!