The One With The Lamma Island Hiking Trail

To say that hiking is the third religion in Hong Kong – after eating and shopping – would be kind of an understatement. When I was tasked to plan for a hiking trip to Lamma Island, my research unearthed a mind-blogging amount of resources dedicated to this activity; a testament on how much the locals love a good trek up and down the hills (mountains?) of Hong Kong.

Here’s a summary of my findings:
1) The hiking trail in Lamma was said to be one to four hours long, depending on your circumstances. Losing sleep worrying whether you planned too-tight an itinerary for a day trip like this, in all honesty, would be utterly pointless
2) Doing a hike in autumn is always infinitely better than risking it under the wrath of summer. I have yet to come across a blog post about a pleasant summer hiking experience in Lamma thus far
3) Just because you live a five minute cab ride away from the terminal would mean you can leave the house 10 minutes before the ferry depart

The Ferry Ride

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

I embarked on the trip one Saturday afternoon with my Hong Kong buddies – Fanny, Maureen, Mandy, Billy and Faifai. It was first of the some of our outdoor group outings and hopefully it heralded more such events in the future.

Anyway, back to the ferry. As I mentioned in point (3) above, I left the house a little too late, it was Saturday lunch peak hour and there was not a single available cab in sight at where I stay. Frustrated beyond belief, I literally ran my way to the Central Ferry Terminal 4 to meet the rest of the gang who were already there.

Needless to say, I was embarrassed. Some organiser I was.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

The ferry ride to Yung Shue Wan took about thirty minutes, a good 15 minutes less if you take the same ferry service direct to Sok Kwu Wan. As we boarded the ferry mere minutes before its departure, we had to sit separately, but nothing stopped our enthusiasm of some camwhoring moments at the open air deck.

Two chapters into the novel I was reading, the shoreline of Yung Shue Wan loomed into view.

First Impressions of Yung Shue Wan

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Here’s another broken-record moment (read: of phrases I keep using in my blog post). Can you believe that you are still in Hong Kong when presented with this idyllic, paranormal view of Lamma?

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Here’s a photo too special not to share. I had to run ahead of the group to take this. Didn’t it looked like two celebrities arrived at the dock, flanked by two burly bodyguards, with the artiste manager leading the way?

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

And then there was the crowd. OMG the crowd. It wasn’t a panic-inducing kind of human-to-human shuffle, but good enough a reminder you are sharing Lamma with hordes of locals and tourists alike on a Saturday afternoon. However, I was strangely lifted in spirit looking at the throngs of people at the ferry jetty. If there were that many people making the trip, Yung Shue Wan must be a good getaway destination.

I was about to be proven right.

The Nameless Waterfront Char Chan Teng

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Staying true to my planned itinerary, we were off to hunt for a lunch spot when we stumbled of this wee gem of a hidden char chan teng right in front of the waterline. I am sorry that, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of the place. Nor its location.

To make up for the blunder, let me show your the food.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Deep fried chicken wings, French toasts, instant noodles with chicken fillets, mixed fruit salad, french fries… your typical char chan teng fare, but at least three times better than anything that I have encountered before, including Tsui Wah and Lan Fong Yuen. My personal favourite was the French toasts. It was crispy, fresh, laden with eggs and butter, and the bread (I think) was home made. And I am not even a fan of toasts at the best of time.

I was told the best of such fare can usually be found at spots far away from your usual touristy trail. Who am I to disagree with the local wisdom? So I nodded in agreement and took another piece of that buttery toast.

The Bohemian Side of Lamma That Was Yong Shue Wan

I might sound like a complete dork to say that this was my first trip to Yong Shue Wan, and I was totally unprepared for what I was about to encounter. This small town reminded me of Holland Village in Singapore. It’s like a dizzying concoction of bohemian, yuppy and seafront lifestyles all rolled into one, and I meant it in a good way.

Let me show you a pictorial journey of what I liked about Yong Shue Wan (side note: I will definitely return again; anyone wants to join me?)

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

A typical front-of-shop goods display. The colours made a tantalising photographic moment.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Local goods of Lamma Island. Personal recommendation: deep fried silver cord fish with salt and pepper. By the time we returned to Central, I finished the whole tub by myself and suffered a mild sore throat the next day.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

I thought this was a Japanese restaurant but in fact it was a Chinese eatery. Prices are reasonable, don’t you think?

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Some bars here seems to be running out-of-home. It looked moderately classy, but the sound system (see the tiny speakers?) must have been top range. I wished I had the time to stay for a while here.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Slightly incongruent to the Bohemian pictorial sketch so far, but this is the famous Tin Hau temple at Yong Shue Wan.

The Lamma Island Family Trail

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

And so we were ready to take on the family trail. I was expecting steep slopes and overcrowded narrow lane, necessitating a four-hour track. Here’s what I learned. If you are doing to detour out of the trail at every single attraction spots along the way, you’ll be in for four hours of trekking. However for a simple walk along the designated trail, it takes you less than 1.5 hours to hike from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

What was great about the trail was that, despite the crowd, it was a fairly easy hike. We chatted, ate and camwhored our way through. Here’s my favourite shot of the day:

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Wasn’t it lovely?

The Laid Back Sok Kwu Wan

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Finally we arrived at Sok Kwu Wan, the end point of the Lamma Family Hiking Trail. To my untrained eyes and amateur knowledge of Hong Kong, the main difference between these two pivotal towns of Lamma Island was how one has more “kelongs” (structures built on stilt) than the other. The elevated sight was a great view.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

On the way down the hill, we took our first and only slight detour to Hung Sing Ye Beac. However the view in the opposite direction is spoiled by nearby Lamma Power Station.

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

Also dotted along the route were some small vegetable farms like this one. It reminded me of my teenage years turning my entire backyard into something similar to this too.

Hmmmm…. I mean, how quaint can it be?

The Rainbow Seafood Restaurant

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

At the end of the trip, we settled down for a long, lazy dinner at Rainbow Seafood Restaurant located along the waterfront of Sok Kwu Wan. The food, the service, the ambiance and the surprise (yes, there is always one) deserves a separate blog post later.

The Conclusions

In the past I had always made straight to Sok Kwu Wan mainly because I didn’t want to battle with the weekend crowd, and I always headed straight for a prolonged seafood meal at one of the seafood restaurants, such as the one at Lamma Hilton Shum Kee Seafood (which, incidentally, was my first foray into food blogging.

But this visit to Yung Shue Wan has made me realised how uninformed I was with the delights which Lamma has to offer.

So… yes, I will be back.

Related Links:
My full photo set on Flickr
Ferry schedules from Central Pier to Lamma Island
The unofficial website of Lamma Island
More on Lamma Island from Hong Kong Extras

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