WHERE DO YOU go to get the feeling of remoteness and being away from it all? If it is supposedly possible to reach paradise on the same piece of land as where many everyday Hong Kongers live, then surely it is possible to find paradise on an island separated from the rest of civilisation?
In Hong Kong, it’s hit-and-miss. Because, for a city-state, space is scarce, and the isolated islands tend to be a ground for all the NIMBY development a city needs. But of course, the city also wants to treasure every bit of nature it has.
Lamma Island is the most prominent such example. It’s a 30 minute ferry ride from Central ferry pier and is behind the up-market, quieter southern face of Hong Kong Island. But it’s also home to one of Hong Kong’s most important power plants. Ironically, it’s juxtaposed with a popular beach which lies at the end of an alleyway lined with seafood restaurants and souvenir shops. Naturally, there are no cars here: it’s hike, bike, or not at all (although the significant amount of steps makes the latter somewhat of a hassle). It seems to be popular with expats too: you’ll find the odd village, but even late into the evening, you’ll see plenty of Westerners taking casual strolls around. Disappointingly, the most remote beach suffers the worst pollution, perhaps as a result of tidal flows.
Nonetheless we had to get some reward from the effort of hiking up and down the island’s spine, so we went for a dip anyway. But we seemed to pass the time here very quickly, literally napping on the sand. No towels, no shirts. Somehow we didn’t catch a cold. But having our bodies stretched out with industrial and military grounds in the background did look a little morbid.
Then again, after seeing enough contrasts, that sort of scene would blend in with a place like this. It seems like Hong Kong has dumped its most utilitarian sides here, and, trying to have its cake and eat it too, has showcased some local charms and natural ‘beauty’. But somehow, it works.
Featured locations: Lamma Island