Lamma Island

Hong Kong is opposite of Canada in so many ways, and I’m not simply talking about the fact that they drive on the wrong left side of the road. Now that it’s summertime, I’m finally feeling a huge difference in terms of seasonal activities. Being raised as a Canadian, I’m used to long days outside under the sun during this wonderful season. Vancouver’s rainy season is defined as the nine months of the year that are not summer, and so Vancouver’s summer is always the best time to visit. On the other hand, Hong Kong’s summer is way too hot, and it also happens to be the period of their rainy season. Bird watching, hiking – all those activities we do during Vancouver’s summer – they’re all done in the winter here. It’s kind of interesting how they go check out birds in the winter. I mean, I always knew that birds fly south during the Canadian winter, but you never really think about where they go. Being on the other side of the world broadens your view in so many ways.

Even though I’ve received advice from people time and time again, telling me not to go hiking during these blazing hot months, I still find myself faced with two outdoor treks within this one week. One is upcoming this Saturday, and we’re going to Tai O to hike up to an infinity pool. Don’t worry, I’ll definitely fill you in on that one after it happens. But the other happened last Saturday, and we went to Lamma Island – another of the small outerlying islands of Hong Kong that I’ve never visited before. Well, there was my first on Saturday!

I recall writing a short post about Cheung Chau a few months ago, and I mentioned that there was a population of around 30000 people living on that tiny island of Cheung Chau. Well, Lamma Island is about 3x bigger in terms of area, and also a bit closer to Hong Kong Island compared to Cheung Chau, but it’s only home to maybe a couple thousand people. Instead, the Hong Kong Electric Company owns a power station on the island, and they burn coal to generate enough energy for the entire Hong Kong Island. It’s funny how everybody knows that there is a wind turbine located on Cheung Chau – it’s quite iconic of the island, actually. But one wind turbine placed in an area without much wind is pretty useless; in fact, it’s probably built there just to give the company a better corporate image, because it’s a sign of ‘green energy’. Sadly, the truth is, Hong Kong is amazing at turning an inhabitable place into a livable city… in terms of ruining the environment and putting things where they don’t belong. While we have hydroelectric power available to us in Canada, Hong Kong can only burn coal. Filling in the ocean for land is another example, and I could go on and on, but we’ll skip that for now.

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We took a ferry from Central to Yung Shue Wan, where our adventure started. That’s where most of the restaurants and people are, as well as some resort houses and small stores selling hand-crafted items. Many of the restaurants are designed to attract foreigners, so there is a lot of Western food around, or at least English menus listed on the store front. We tried a Turkish diner for their Lamma Burger (which was a combination of three meats, and not very Turkish at all) and also their chicken shish-kebab. Across from this restaurant was a lovely cafe that’s known for their tofu cheesecake, so we tried that along with their lavender cheesecake. The desserts were delicious! Even though they were both cheesecake, the style and texture was very different. The tofu cheesecake was loose and had a soft aroma of tofu, while the lavender cheesecake tasted more like a New York cheesecake with a strong scent of lavender. I loved them both! Before I left, I also grabbed a jar of earl grey cookies to enjoy back at home.

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With that heavy intake of calories, it only makes sense that we work extra hard to burn them off!  First, we walked up to the wind turbine, which is a bit of a climb, but you can definitely make it up within half an hour (10-20 minutes if you try a bit harder). There’s nothing much up there – just a wind turbine – so you can skip it if you like.

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Next to the turbine is a short set of stairs up to a resting area, and it gives you a view of Hong Kong Island from the southwest (so you’re looking at Ap Lei Chau/Aberdeen). You can take a ferry to Lamma Island from Aberdeen as well, and it would take less time than from Central.

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After that short stop, we hiked all the way to Sok Kwu Wan, which is on the other side of Lamma Island. It’s pretty nice, because you get a lot of scenery along the way. If you’re hiking inland, like last time when I was at Dragon’s Back, you’ll find yourself covered within pretty much a forest. It’s also a very easy hike, which is how I find most hikes in Hong Kong. Hiking in this city is defined as a walk with little difference in elevation, whereas I’m expecting a mountain when I’m in Vancouver. You can’t really compare.

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We took the 12 PM ferry to Lamma Island, then left on the 5:35 ferry from the other side. Prepare 40 for the ferry ride, which I should mention, it could be dangerous – there was a ferry collision near Lamma Island in 2012 that ended up in quite a few fatalities. But anyway, 2-3 hours is definitely enough to see everything. We took 4 hours because we spent a lot of time just chatting away. You could also stay on the Sok Kwu Wan side of Lamma Island for a seafood dinner, but aside from that, there isn’t much to see there.

That’s a lot of words about a half a day of adventure. It’s been a while!

P.S. I used to think that the Chinese name of Lamma Island, 南丫島, had something to do with the wind turbine, because the “丫” looks like the three blades of the turbine…

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