I can’t believe that Cheung Chau is one of the places I’ve never been before – I had been so many times to Lamma, Peng Chau and even Po Toi (which is further away and smaller). Anyway, it seems that whenever I had plans to Cheung Chau, the weather changed or it was a public holiday and the ferry queues were ridiculously long.
Earlier this year, in January, I finally bit the bullet and decided to visit this little island, which is known for its annual explosion of Bun Festival (which usually takes place in May, this year it will be May 11-15, 2016), temples, beaches – and almost anything that is food-related!
The island is small, with an area of less than 2.5 square kilometres and less than 30,000 inhabitants – but it must be almost as much visitors on a busy weekend. When the ferry arrived, it felt like an invasion took place – there were tourists everywhere, and the ferry pier was full of little shops selling food, drinks and souvenirs.
Like its neighbouring island Lamma, there are no motorised vehicles on the island aside from a small ambulance and fire truck that run to and from the medical emergency helipad that punctuates the main beach. There is a small ferry service to reach one of the southern sections of the island, but it is also in easy-walking distance
We quickly walked away from the hustle and bustle and discovered some quieter corners of the island. We walked towards the Warwick Hotel (this used to be one of the few places to stay overnight, but it seems more and more b&b’s and apartments have opened up), kept along the waterfront, and then explored different stone formations – from loaf rock over elephant rock to human head road – along the mini great wall (which is the name of the path).
The path ended in the middle of nowhere, so we turned around, walked passed a retreat house and some cute little houses – and that’s when we noticed the strong smell of seafood. Of course, traditionally the island was a fishing village and there are still fishing fleets working from the harbour. But we did not see any active fishermen when we visited, instead several shrimps were being air-dried – hence the strong smell!
So we just continued walking, until we reached the promenade and kep walking along the Cheung Chau Sai Tan Road, to a Tin Hau (yes, the goddess of the sea) temple and a picnic area.
The island’s most famous sight is Cheung Po Tsai Cave, named after a pirate who sailed the South China Seas and Pearl River Delta – but as it is just a cave, we did not go into the cave (I did not want to climb inside, given I was carrying Lina in a bulky hiking backpack and she had just fallen asleep). So we just ate our picnic above it – and turned back to the main area of Cheung Chau.
Our final stop was at the popular Japanese-run Hometown Teahouse on Tung Wan Road – that’s where you can buy sushi and red bean cakes, and meet the very lovely owners. They have a guest book for visitors and love to take pictures with guests, provided that you sign the guest book!