A Boat Away, A World Away

53 comments
Asia, Hong Kong
The Village of Sok Kwu Wan

The Village of Sok Kwu Wan

Protecting the southwestern coast of one of Asia’s foremost financial centers from the occasional violent gusts of the South China Sea, Lamma Island with its heavily indented coasts boasts a life pace so different from the constant haste in downtown Hong Kong. A part of the Outlying Islands – groups of islands scattered around Hong Kong Island and Kowloon – the territory’s third largest island is home to just a little over 6,000 residents.

One morning earlier this year James and I escaped to Lamma, a 25-minute boat trip from Hong Kong’s Central Pier, only a few days after the Year of the Horse kicked in. Wading through the narrow waters separating the two islands, the boat moved in steady speed past the western rim of Hong Kong Island with a typical skyscraper-studded skyline of the island’s north, albeit less dense in concentration and shorter in height. James told me how Lamma was an alternative place of residence for Hong Kongers and some Westerners who sought tranquility in a territory known for its round-the-clock hustle.

Villages on the island are connected with concrete pathways, encouraging its residents and visitors to walk or ride a bicycle. Hence a healthier lifestyle. On weekends and holidays, however, the quiet island becomes a popular hiking destination for the city dwellers and, increasingly, Mainland Chinese tourists. Yet for those who prefer fewer crowd and less commotion a hike to Lamma’s highest point, Mount Stenhouse at 353 m above sea level, provides a good – and more adventurous – alternative to visiting the island’s plethora of dining places, one of them owned by Chow Yun-fat’s family. The Hong Konger international actor is in fact a native to Lamma.

The island’s summit was exactly the place we headed to after strolling around Sok Kwu Wan, a small village sitting on a sheltered bay with stilt houses built over the calm water. The hike might be grueling to some, but pleasant for others. Nevertheless for me it was the atmospheric ambiance of boulder-littered hills thinly shrouded by mist which became the highlight of the trip.

That and the affordable fresh seafood dishes compared to how much they would normally cost on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, made the Southern Y – what Lamma means in Cantonese – a world away from one of the most densely-populated and expensive places on the planet.

Stilt Houses and Restaurants at Sok Kwu Wan

Stilt Houses and Restaurants at Sok Kwu Wan

Hong Kong Island Looms in the Distance

Hong Kong Island Looms in the Distance

Resting Dragon Boats

Colorful Dragon Boats

A Tin Hau Temple at Sok Kwu Wan

A Tin Hau Temple at Sok Kwu Wan

A Hill Post

A Hill Post

Hiking among the Rocks

Hiking through Rocks

Stairs to the Peak

Stairs to the Peak

Walking through Large Boulders

Walking through Large Boulders

A Rock-Studded Island

A Rock-Studded Island

View of the Sea

View of the Sea

The Three Towers of Lamma Power Station

The Three Towers of Lamma Power Station

Hung Shing Yeh Beach

Hung Shing Yeh Beach

An Intriguing Mural on A House

A Conspicuous Mural on A House

Bright Blooms on A Green Tapestry

Bright Blooms over A Green Tapestry

Orange Trumpets

Orange Trumpets

Fresh Fish at An Affordable Price

Fresh Fish at An Affordable Price

An Alley of Restaurants

An Alley of Restaurants

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

53 thoughts on “A Boat Away, A World Away”

    • Hi Kamila. Thank you! The seafood dishes I had on Lamma were really great and surprisingly quite affordable for HK standard. Not only does it provide a nice city break, but also it has some unassuming but really decent seafood restaurants.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A lovely post, Bama – I hadn’t been to that island several years before you came! It hasn’t changed very much, although I was very surprised to see so many Mainland Chinese tourists on the main walking route. On the one hand it’s great that they are making the effort to experience the outdoors, but at the same time I do wish Lamma was under the radar! I’m glad the trails above Sok Kwu Wan were virtually deserted though.

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    • Thank you, James! I remember telling you how those hills with boulders could provide a good alternative for epic movie directors to shoot their films. I also liked the fact that even though on the other side of the island there were many tourists visiting, the part where we started our hike was totally the opposite. I just hope that it will keep its charm despite its growing popularity.

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  2. Beautiful island! It looks completely different from the hectic life in Hong Kong island, ya. I’ll put Lamma island on my list for my next visit to Hong Kong 😀

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    • You really should, Debbie! And you won’t want to miss a chance to dine at Chow Yun-fat’s restaurant. 🙂

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    • It must be quite a spectacle when those boats are on water for a race! My photos of the orange flowers don’t really do the beauty justice. They were much more beautiful in person.

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  3. I went to Lamma about 35 years ago, also to Cheung Chau. On one of them I got off the ferry on one side of the island hiked up and over the island, passing a monastery in the clouds, and caught a ferry back to HK on the other side of the island. Does that sound like Lamma? And is Cheung Chau the one with no motorised vehicles? (at least it was back then :))
    Alison

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    • Wow, it must have looked very different back then. I remember people saying how Kuta in Bali was such a quiet fishing village with empty beaches stretching as far as the eyes could see back in the 70s. We all want that kind of romantic ambiance at places we visit, don’t we? Motorized vehicles on Lamma were a very rare sight, if not completely nonexistent. I’m not sure about Cheung Chau though, but I’ve heard that people prefer to go around by bicycle on the island.

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  4. Sepertinya Bama cocok jadi duta Hong Kong hehehe. Lengkap banget tulisanmu tentang objek yang nggak banyak orang tahu.
    Hung Shing Yeh Beach nya bisa untuk berenang kah?

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    • Haha, kebetulan aja punya sahabat orang HK yang emang suka blusukan juga. 🙂 Ditambah lagi pas awal tahun ke HK sampe 2 minggu, jadi punya banyak waktu untuk jelajahi sudut-sudut HK yang gak banyak turis pergi. Itu pantainya bisa buat berenang kok, tapi pas itu lagi winter jadi mungkin orang-orang lagi agak males renang karena dingin. 🙂

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  5. Such a great write up about what sounds that a fantastic place. Ive never been to Hong Kong, but am dying to go. Will definitely pay Lamma island a visit. Sounds authentic and peaceful.

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    • Hi Nikki. When you travel to Asia one day, Hong Kong can be a good starting point before exploring more of the continent’s charms. And if you have enough time to wander around in HK, do consider visiting its white sand beaches and great hiking trails.

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    • Nah, masalahnya mindset turis Indo kalo ke HK kan kebanyakan karena satu hal: belanja! 🙂 Gak salah sih, cuma jadinya banyak yang gak tau kalo di HK banyak tempat-tempat menarik.

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      • Sepertinya mindset “belanja” itu tidak hanya berlaku di HK deh Bama, hehe.. Indonesians are the consumtive people, aren’t they? 🙂 ( tapi sepertinya mindset itu tidak berlaku untuk kita berdua yah 😛 )

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      • Betul! Kalo liburan rame-rame biasanya saya suka mundur perlahan dan misah, menjauh dari pusat perbelanjaan. 🙂

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      • Haha. So do I, Bama. Kalau sekadar berkunjung, well that’s fine, siapa tahu ada objek menarik untuk difoto. Risih rasanya kalau hari-hari liburan hanya diisi dengan aktivitas shopping yang ujung-ujungnya menambah beban bagasi. Haha..

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    • You’re very welcome. Most foreign visitors are unaware of Lamma as there is no theme park or shopping mall on the island, which makes it very interesting actually.

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  6. witnessmiracle says:

    Reblogged this on Rendezvous and commented:
    Truly !! An Amazing World .!! We just need to make time for exploring it 🙂

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  7. witnessmiracle says:

    Amazing Truly !! We do just have to make time for exploration …Nature is bountiful 🙂

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    • Hai Kak Tesya! Masih banyak lho kak sisi Hong Kong yang sebenernya layak banget dikunjungi tapi kalah tenar dibandingin shopping mall dan Disneyland. 🙂

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  8. The dragon boat photo is outstanding – composition, color, and angle. It’s interesting that the hike path appears to be all paved with stair steps, which seems like it would make walking more difficult. I have seen these same orange trumpets while hiking in the forests of Oaxaca, but never in such gorgeous profusion!
    Your posts always make me want to visit the place you describe!

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    • Hi Marilyn. Thank you so much for your kind words! There were a lot of paved hiking trails in Hong Kong, but as you said I found walking on most of them rather difficult. James even told me once that he preferred natural/unpaved trails like what we experienced at Rinjani in Indonesia. Those orange trumpets, however, were truly a feast for the eyes. I’m really glad my posts did that to you because we all inspire each other, don’t we?

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  9. Bama I missed this post of yours! Thank you for taking me to another gorgeous spot. I love the photo of the dragon boats. what a great eye you have. I think should i ever have the good fortune to meet you I would be creeping behind you watching you take photos and learning what to see through the camera. Wonderful shots. 🙂

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    • Sue, that’s very kind of you to say. Thank you! It’s really funny you mentioned about creeping behind me to watch me taking photos because that’s actually what I’ve been doing! Sometimes I spotted things myself, but some other times I watched people taking pictures and crept behind them. 🙂 It would be really great to meet you one day, Sue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have. I guess he’s climbing Rinjani now, one tough mountain to conquer. But it seems like so far he’s been enjoying his trip to Indonesia.

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      • That’s wonderful Bama that you go to meet. Yes Jeff seems pretty hard core. Makes my adventures look pretty tame. 🙂

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  10. Beautiful photos and narrative Bama. We had planned on visiting Lamma island on our first trip to Hong Kong, but never did make it. Thank you for taking us along.

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    • Thank you, Madhu. For those who wish to see the other side of Hong Kong without having to travel too far to its northeast corners, Lamma is a great alternative. When you visit, make sure you try the seafood at one of the restaurants. They’re reasonable priced and taste good! 🙂

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  11. One of my favorite destinations over the years…the best seafood restaurants around, as it has not just the fresh sea but the great atmosphere of the island and people to make it memorable. Great write up!

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    • The seafood restaurants really were amazing, weren’t they? I loved the fact that all the dishes didn’t empty my pocket, yet they tasted so fresh and delicious. I would recommend Lamma to anyone who loves adventure and good food. Thanks again!

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  12. Lamma sounds like a nice place to visit. Your photos are spectacular! Thanks for sharing. I have a similar travel blog, would you like to check it out? thriftytraveling.wordpress.com

    Thanks and happy holidays!
    Jessica Lyon

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    • Hi Jessica. Lamma provided a nice city break during my stay in Hong Kong earlier this year, indeed. I’m glad you enjoyed my photos, thanks and happy holidays too!

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  13. Looks like just my kind of place. I loved my Hong Kong visit and spent a few quiet days at Silvermine Beach on Lantau Island when I’d had enough of the city life. Next time, I know exactly where to go! Thanks!

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    • I think I’ve heard about Silvermine Beach before. I’m sure you would enjoy Lamma as much, Mallee. There’s an even better hiking trail in Sai Kung where at the end of the trail you would find some of HK’s unspoiled beaches.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Love this – will definitely visit especially as the fish looks fresh as you’d get it as a fish in a pet store! looks like a beautiful little place. Thanks for positing

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    • Hi Amy. With that quality, the fish would have costed much higher on Hong Kong Island than the price I had to pay on Lamma. So yes, you really should go there. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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