The weather in the morning of our sixth full day in Hong Kong looked pretty nice compared to the previous few cloudy days, so we boarded the ferry to Lamma Island. All I knew about Lamma was that it was the third largest island of the Hong Kong area (after Lantau and Hong Kong), and that we had seen it from several of our other viewpoints in the last few days. It looked like it had some really great mountains. Say no more.
|On the ridge of Lamma Island, looking at Yung Shue Wan with its big factory and beaches.|
The ferry ride was reasonably short, and dropped us in the larger of the island’s two towns, Yung Shue Wan. The mountains were on the southern end of the island, but we wanted to see most of the island first. By the time we arrived at the small town, not much bigger than the town on Cheung Chau, the sky was clear and the heat was blistering. We got some iced milk-tea (milk-tea is a strong, bitter tea with sweetened condensed milk added. According to one of Yvonne’s uncles, foreigners don’t like it much, but I can’t get enough of the stuff), and started on the Family Trail to the south end of the island.
|Shan Tei Tong in the background is our goal. It’s mighty hot out, but that won’t stop us… will it?|
The Family Trail is a footpath that runs from north to south along Lamma Island, providing access from Yung Shue Wan to the smaller of the island’s villages, Sok Kwu Wan. On the way, it passes over some low hills with views of the ocean, and near a few of Lamma’s popular beaches. Most of the tourists apparently prefer the beaches to the mountains on the island, but they can have them. The mountains looked far too enticing to pass up. I wasn’t even certain we could go up them, though, since the usually very helpful tourist maps didn’t mention them at all.
|The beginning of our stairway up Ling Kok Shan.|
By the time we got to Sok Kwu Wan, we were already sweating heavily. I don’t know how hot it got, but it was brutal. We looked around for the trail up Shan Tei Tong, the island’s massive 330 meter mountain, but failed to find anything. So we bought an ice cream bar in town and asked a local. “No problem,” she said. “Just follow this road around the island and you’ll come to the trail in no time.” Or at least I think that’s what she said. I don’t speak a lick of Cantonese (actually, Yvonne taught me to say a few basics, but nothing I can use in conversation), so I just rely on Yvonne.
|We are both very sad about how hot it is. But the view is nice.|
We started the loop road around the south end of the island, eventually coming to a well-signed path to Ling Kok Shan, the shorter of the island’s two mountains. The plan was to go over Ling Kok Shan, then continue on to Shan Tei Tong. So we began our ascent on a long, long, long, long stairway.
|Happy again after some rest and water. And a view out to Hong Kong island. Victoria Peak is on the left.|
The stairs went up and up, and up some more. They were completely exposed to the sun, with not a hint of breeze. I’m sure I’ve been this roasted before, like in Southern California, but it was supremely uncomfortable. We would take ten or fifteen steps, then stop completely fatigued. The metal railing on the stairway offered no help, since touching it was like grabbing a burning log. Everything was just so damned hot. Once we arrived at the top of Ling Kok Shan, we found a mercifully placed boulder with a small amount of shade, and sat down for a long break. Both of us felt close to sickness from the heat. But the views were nice!
|Shan Tei Tong is higher than us, but we’ll happily leave it for another day.|
Once we recovered a little, we continued along Ling Kok Shan’s ridge above Sok Kwu Wan. It was a beautiful, open ridge with views all around the bay, but we were still painfully hot from the sunny weather. We reached a junction with a trail the led up to Shan Tei Tong, but neither of us thought it would be a good idea to go up at this point. We were both nearly sick from the heat, and the climb up would surely kill us. It’s a strange feeling to have a paved path in warm, sunny weather be so difficult because of the heat and humidity. I’m not used to this kind of thing.
|On the ferry back to HK, both mountains bid us farewell. Ling Kok Shan is on the left.|
We took another trail back down into Sok Kwu Wan for more ice cream and sitting in the shade. It took a while before we felt sufficiently well to move around at all. The other tourists who had been enjoying the beaches all day seemed well cooked also, but I’m pretty sure I looked like I’d been hit by a truck. I was overwhelmingly happy when we boarded the ferry, complete with air conditioning. Despite the horrible heat, I’d say this was a good day.