I was in Hong Kong last week with my wife and daughter and we took the opportunity to revisit Lamma Island after a gap of more than 12 years.
One of our favourite excursions when we used to live in Hong Kong was to take the ferry to Yung Shue Wan, walk across to Sok Kwu Wan (or vice versa), have a seafood meal and catch the return ferry from there.
As the ferry pulled into Yung Shue Wan, everything looked pretty much as I remembered it. But on closer inspection there have been a few subtle changes in the dozen years since I was last there. For a start there are a lot more westerners living there, and judging by the organic convenience store, the vegetarian restaurants, the trinket stores and so on, it appears that this little village has become a haven for artists, hippies and down-shifters.
More affordable rents and a relaxed and healthy lifestyle on this island-without-cars would add to its appeal to expats.
It was a nice cool temperature (for us people used to Malaysian weather) and ideal for hiking. Very soon we reached Hung Shing Yeh Beach.
One big improvement in Hong Kong since the old days is the standard of public toilets. When HK was under British rule, public toilets were to be avoided at all costs but nowadays they are mostly clean with hands-free taps, foot pedal flushes and soap. Well done Hong Kong.
Lamma Power Station seems to have grown larger since we were last here. That is not surprising as HK’s population has gone up by about a million people in the past 12 years. Fortunately Lamma has so far managed to avoid major new housing developments and the island remains relatively green and pristine. In fact Lamma is greener than it used to be thanks to some forest regeneration projects.
At its highest point the trail has a viewing pavilion overlooking Ha Mei Wan with the lofty peak, Shan Tei Tong in the background (which I have never climbed).
The village of Sok Kwu Wan came into view after a few more minutes walking.
The path wound its way down to sea level passing one or two rural villages on the way.
Some cute puppies were playing on the beach. My daughter wanted to take them home with us.
The path passes in front of the so-called Kamikazi Grottos, a couple of roughly hewn tunnels which were dug by the Japanese during WWII. According to some, they intended to launch suicide boat attacks against Allied shipping from these caves but the war ended before construction was completed.
Arriving in Sok Kwu Wan we passed Tin Hau Temple which has had a facelift or two since we were last in Lamma.
We were pleased to see that Sok Kwu Wan is still basically a strip of seafood restaurants preparing delicious dishes from the fish cultivated in the fish farms filling the bay.
There is a big choice of local and imported seafood on display in the live tanks outside the restaurants.
We always used to dine at Wan Kee but we were told it closed down 3 years ago and has since been converted into a western restaurant. Instead we opted for Lamma Hilton next door which has been around for ages and has always been popular.
We had a nice meal and, something I was looking forward to after a long walk, a refreshingly cool bottle or two of Tsingtao’s finest.
Then we made our way to the pier and, since the Central ferry had just left, we took the more rustic Aberdeen ferry back to Hong Kong island.
It was good to know that some of the simple pleasures of days gone by are still available in Hong Kong.