Samstag, 5. November 2011

Sightseeing #3:Lamma Island

First of all, to state the obvious, Hong Kong is great!On the one hand, this vibrant metropolis has that many highlights and advantages that I dont even dare to name them because I would probably forget some of them. However on the other hand, the noise and the pollution are reason enough escape the grasp of the city on the weekend. One famous sight for a short trip is the car free Lamma Island.
It is located on the south of Hong Kong and can be easily reached by ferry in about 40 minutes via the main ferry pier in central.

Lamma Island has, besides some sights and beaches, two small settlements where one can enjoy local seafood and take a break from everyday life. For this trip, I decided to start at the settlement on the eastern side of the island, Sok Kwu Wan.

As the Island is not very big one can cross is in about 90 minutes if  one is eager to taste some seafood on the other side or enjoy the various sides on the way there and take a lot longer. Along the trail up the hills there are beaches, small temples , shrines, even smaller settlements and a few shops which sell refreshments. In addition to these things one may expect to see, there is a more uncommon one, too. The Lamma Island power plant. A coal-fired power station which was build in 1982 but enlarged over the years. The total power output is said to be 4MW.

Who would not love to enjoy the sight of this fabulous landmark when laying at the beach? Oh and in case someone wonders, these people with the big hats, blue cloths and the rake are hired cleaners to clean the beach every day to attract more tourists from Hong Kong.

Even though the power plant kind of dims the mood, I actually like this small village along the coastline with a few diners and a nice beach. Especially because it is not exceptionally crowded like all of the other beaches on Hong Kong Island and because the diners offer free WiFi giving guests the option to sunbath at the beach and relax while skyping with friends and family from Germany who complain about the cold rainy weather.
Truely amazing

Somewhat later one arrives at the Yung Shue Wan at the western side of the island where seafood can be enjoyed as well. The restaurants have a huge variety of locals and oversee ingredients which are presented in tanks in front of the restaurant. One may even chose the lobster or crab for oneself or just order from the menu to not trouble the conscience ;)
So far I have tried all kinds of crabs, lobster, a few local types of fish, scallops and some veggies out of the see on my previous trips to Lamma Island and they were without exception really good. The advantage of having seafood on one of the Island is not only the guaranteed freshness of the ingredients but also the lower price as the restaurants do not have to 
pay such a high rent for the space they use or even own it.
The trip to the islands is really worth it and it is a lot of fun to sit at the waterfront, eat seafood and chat with friends while watching the fishermen and small boots passing by. If you have the chance, you should go during the week though as it tends to get a little busier on the weekends.
The lush green hills and valleys in between  are a welcome change to the urban canyons of the city.

There are probably a lot more things to see and to discover if one is brave enough to leave the well
beaten tourist-paths.
In addition to the not so forward-looking coal-fired power plant, Lamma features the first wind turbine in Hong Kong as well. One can even walk up to it and wonder: "How could a turbine possibly be a tourist attraction"?
Back in Germany people are complaining that there are too many turbines being erected and over here a single one is so extraordinary that it becomes  a sigh for tourist. Hong Kong really has a long way to go when it comes to renewable energy and recycling!

 Even saving energy seems not to be part of  the every day vocabulary in Hong Kong. Due to the high light pollution in the city, I assume that one of the many things some locals have not ever seen are stars besides snow and Christmas trees.
Oh, and most do not know how to swim, ride a bike or drive a car either. Cultural differences I guess.

This is the sight I enjoyed while eating my lobster in one of the various restaurants in the end of the "across the island" trip. The advantage of a side trip to Lamma is that it can range from 4 hours of time up to a whole day depending on the mood and need for some quiet time.
A trip to either Lamma or Lantau Island should be one excursion if one stays in Hong Kong for more than three days. The sea food is definitely worth it!