After a day of relatively easy touristy stuff, our second full day in Hong Kong started with a ferry ride across the bay to a tiny island called Cheung Chau. Yvonne told me I would like the island because it is very rural, very pretty, and there’s great street food. Good enough for me!
|Cheung Chau day starts with a bustling street market.|
According to our tourist book, Cheung Chau is just smaller than 3 square kilometers, and has a population of 30,000, which makes it a huge city by my standards, but a tiny village by HK standards. When you take into account that about half of the island is uninhabited forest, I found the idea of Cheung Chau as a small village to be a little amusing. But it does seem more like a village than a city. There are no cars on the island– just a few motorized carts for construction and deliveries, and a few motorized vans for the fire department (slightly smaller than a Honda Fit). The inhabitants get around by bike or foot, on a very impressive network of paved paths and roads.
|Cheung Chau is a big fishing village.|
We had a quick lunch and a visit to a 250 year-old temple (with a basketball court directly in front– an odd combination), we began with our first “hike” in Hong Kong. I put the quotation marks there because we never set foot on dirt, only walking on paved paths all day, but Yvonne assured me that this was what hiking in Hong Kong was often like. With millions of inhabitants and millions of tourists in the area, the Hong Kong government seems to take no chances with erosion, instead paving over just about everything that might wash away in the monsoon rains. I’m glad we don’t do this in the White Mountains or Green Mountains in New England, despite the erosion on many of the trails. But for all the new sights I saw, I didn’t mind the urban style of the paths.
|From the North Overlook, we had some fine views all around, including Lantau Island with it’s big mountains.|
Our first destination on Cheung Chau was the north overlook pavilion, which we could see from the ferry coming into town. We took a wrong turn at one point, but otherwise it was very easy to find– all over Hong Kong are wonderful tourist maps and signs that make finding cultural, historical, and scenic landmarks incredibly easy. Our views from the pavilion were unusually clear, according to Yvonne. The humidity and smog make views in Hong Kong very hazy.
|And Cheung Chau village in the middle of the island.|
A quick stop back in the town for cold drinks and replenishing our water supplies, and we were off to the other side of the island. The heat was blazing down on us, but the day was still young and there was plenty more to see. We took a wrong turn again, and ended up walking along the bay with nice views of the fishing boats and islands beyond.
|There are some nice picnic spots on the trails out here.|
We took a stroll along more paved paths to Reclining Rock, a granite outcropping on the shore. The rocky ledges on the shore of the island wouldn’t have looked out of place in Acadia National Park, except for the incredible amount of trash and litter. Between the junk that washes up from the ocean and the junk that walkers deposit, it was a sad sight. Even sadder because there were dozens of trash cans along every trail that would have been very easy to fill.
|Reclining Rock on the coast. I made sure to keep the litter out of the photo.|
By this point we were feeling pretty well cooked. 95 degree heat, 75% humidity, and lingering jet lag combined to make me want to die. This would be the norm for the next several days, since the temperature never dropped below 75, even at night, and the humidity made it impossible to cool off. By the time we boarded the ferry back to the city, I had the beginnings of a dehydration headache, despite drinking more than 4 liters throughout the day. Again, this would be the norm for the next several days. Happily, the ferry was air conditioned just like every other vehicle or building in the city. And also happily, we proceeded to gorge ourselves once we got back to the city, before ending the day completely exhausted.