Lamma Island

The sun has finally started making an appearance in Hong Kong. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! After months of cold and grey, feeling warm and seeing the sunshine is the best feeling. I’m cracking out the floral prints every day in celebration!Image

Last Sunday we took advantage of the dry weather to take a trip to Lamma Island. Lamma is Hong Kong’s third largest island; it sits just off the south coast of Hong Kong island. We can see it from our house, its curved coastlines and hills tempting us across.

Lamma is one of Hong Kong’s most laid back places. It seems to exist as a world of it’s own amidst the hustle of the city. It has a reputation for artists, bohemians and ageing hippies, with evidence of its quirky, free spirited atmosphere  found all over the island.

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We took a ferry over from Central, and began our day with lunch in Yung Shue Wan, the most populated area of the island. As you get off the ferry, you’re greeted by dozens of bikes propped up against railings. Lamma, like several other of Hong Kong’s islands, is entirely car free.

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 A stroll the village rewards you with narrow streets over flowing with seafood restaurants, little tucked away pubs and restaurants, and shops selling dream catchers, tie-dye dresses, Indian bags, handcrafted jewelry and drift wood photo frames. Fresh vegetables are sold all along the street, alongside styrofoam boxes of shellfish on ice, plants in mis-matched flower pots, little tubs of homemade condiments, and jars of dried seafood.

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Craving squid, we ate at Sampan Seafood restaurant. Another of my favourites on the island is Bookworm, a fantastic vegetarian café. The lasagna and the burgers are delicious enough to tempt even the most carnivorous.

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As we sat down, the restaurant was just finishing serving dim sum, discarded steamer baskets and teapots pilled high in baskets.

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We started with a lovely, cold beer.

We ordered deep fried Squid. I especially love the crispy fried garlic crumbs.

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Next, a big plate of fried rice.

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And finally beef with seasonal green vegetables, which turned out just to be celery!

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Our tummies full, we set out across the island to walk off lunch. The family trail route takes about an hour or two, depending on how much you explore on your way.

Heading away from the village, the island interior becomes lush and green. Plants with huge, rubbery leaves grow up along the side of the path. Beautiful vibrant flowers speckle the foliage.

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After a few minutes walking you find yourself at Hung Shing Yeh Beach. Children play on the sand, men catch fish off the barancle covered rocks, and right next to the beach you find….. a power station.

A seemingly ugly sight on the otherwise quite rural, natural island, yet somehow it only seems to add to the island’s identity. The island shops sell ‘power station island’ postcards, snapshots of the 3 towers against a glowing sunset.

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The path begins to climb up the hills towards the centre of the island. A final step push
takes you to the highest point of the walk. You’re rewarded by a man standing
beneath a beach umbrella, selling cold drinks and luminous ice-lollies.

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Looking down to one side you see quiet little secluded coves, breeding grounds for rare turtles and  accessible only to private boats.

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On the other side, the power station!

Hong Kong is nothing if not a series of dichotomies!

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Soon you are able to look down on the village of Sok Kwu Wan. A collection of houses and one long street, set alongside a cove. The cove has been turned into a floating fish farm. A network of passageways, huts and nets on the water. Bits of wood, odds and ends roped together all somehow staying afloat.

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Down by the waters edge are a series of caves known locally as the kamikaze caves. Built by the Japanese during the World War 2 occupation, these caves are reputed to have been built to hide boats, ready to launch a surprise attack. Historians, however, claim they were more likely just large munitions dumps.

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The path meanders through the back of gardens, a rare site in Hong Kong, and into Sok Kwu Wan. The main street is packed with seafood restaurants. Huge round tables line the waterfront, packed with people ordering dish after dish. Mounds of clam shells and prawn tails mount up on soy sauce stained table clothes. Stacked tanks are filled with live fish. Some of the specimens are enormous they fill the tanks. Head touching the glass at one end, tail at the other. You can’t imagine how anyone would ever need to order them, or how many people they would be able to feed.

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This is where we end the day, sat by the water with drinks, watching boats come and go as afternoon slowly turned to evening.

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