A Travellerspoint blog

So near and yet so far.

Day trip to Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island.

sunny

Today I decided to go to Lamma Island and do some hiking. It's years since I've been to Lamma, mainly because if I went at a weekend, it would be heaving with people, but on a week day it is like entering into a wonderful, tranquil world, so close to the rest of Hong Kong in distance, yet so far in character that it feels like being transported back in time.

There are many stories about why Lamma is called Lamma, but I like this one. Around 1760 Alexander Dalrymple was the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty. It was his job to try and map the world's oceans and seas. Unfortunately, he misunderstood a Portuguese chart showing the entrances of the Pearl River. Next to the site of what is now Lamma Island the word lama appeared. Dalrymple thought this was the name of the island, but it was actually the Portuguese word for mud. It was written there to inform sailors what it would be like to drop anchor at that location. At some future point the name Lama was misspelt and an extra 'm' was added, creating the present day name of the island. The original Chinese name for the island was Pok Liu Chau, which I'm told implies it was a kind of stopping place on sea voyages. Lamma is the third largest island in Hong Kong with a population of around 6,000.

On this occasion I wanted to visit the quieter less populated end of the island, so I took the ferry from Central Pier 4 to Sok Kwu Wan. Ferries only come here around every hour and a half, so make sure you check the timetable carefully before you visit. Sok Kwu Wan is home to around 500 people. This village is famous for seafood restaurants. In the past the British named it Picnic Bay.

Sign for Lamma Island in the ferry pier.

Sign for Lamma Island in the ferry pier.

The Four Seasons where we recently stayed.

The Four Seasons where we recently stayed.

Leaving Central.

Leaving Central.

I didn't really look around Sok Kwu Wan, though I will when I do the hike from there to Yue Shue Wan. Instead I left the ferry and headed left in the direction of Mo Tat Wan. I was following the Lamma Family Sok Kwu Wan Circular Trail, but was making it harder by also climbing up to the summit of Ling Kok Shan, the second highest mountain on Lamma.

Sailing in to Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Sailing in to Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

The Ferry I arrived on.

The Ferry I arrived on.



The Rainbow Restaurant is probably the most famous of the fish restaurants in Sok Kwu Wan.

The Rainbow Restaurant is probably the most famous of the fish restaurants in Sok Kwu Wan.

A Line of Restaurants in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

A Line of Restaurants in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

As I left Sok Kwu Wan, I passed a waterfront sitting out area, fish farms and restaurants. Apparently there is a fishing village you can visit here to learn all about fish farms on Lamma. This part of the walk was shaded and on a slight incline. There were good coastal views and lots of flowers.

Waterfront Seating.

Waterfront Seating.

Dragon Boat on the Waterfront.

Dragon Boat on the Waterfront.

Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fish Farms in Sok Kwu Wan Bay.

Fellow Hikers.

Fellow Hikers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Mikania micrantha, also known as mile a minute vine. It looks beautiful, but apparently it's a pest and can damage the growth of other plants.

Mikania micrantha, also known as mile a minute vine. It looks beautiful, but apparently it's a pest and can damage the growth of other plants.

Morning Glory, also known as bindweed. Apparently it's also a pest.

Morning Glory, also known as bindweed. Apparently it's also a pest.

The first place I came to on my hike was the village of Mo Tat. Mo Tat Wan is the part on the bay. To get to it, you go down a fairly steep flight of steps. There's a kaito, or small ferry, from here to Aberdeen. There are two piers from which you can do some fishing, there's a course sandy beach and there's a restaurant called The Bay, which serves Mediterranean style food. I believe you can hire kayaks here, too. On the hill behind Mo Tat Wan there's Mo Tat Old Village and Mo Tat New Village. The original village was founded by two brothers surnamed Chan, who moved here centuries ago from Pok Fu Lam. Most of the original villagers were surnamed Chan or Chou. Traditionally they made their living from fishing, farming and keeping livestock or poultry. Apparently some of the earliest village houses were abandoned due to an invasion of white termites and new houses were built nearby. There is also an old ruined village school which was built in 1932 but was later abandoned as families with children either moved away or sent their children to school by boat. The village had no electricity or water supply until the 1960s. Prior to this the village was lit using kerosene lamps and villagers collected their water from wells. Some of the houses in the new village looked beautiful. I was surprised to find one garden even had its very own gnome.

View on the way to Mo Tat.

View on the way to Mo Tat.

View from above.

View from above.

Coming down the stairs to Mo Tat Wan.

Coming down the stairs to Mo Tat Wan.

Village Art.

Village Art.

Village Art.

Village Art.

The Beach.

The Beach.

The Beach.

The Beach.

By the Beach.

By the Beach.

Kayaks by the beach.

Kayaks by the beach.

House on the beach.

House on the beach.

The Bay Restaurant.

The Bay Restaurant.

The Bay Restaurant.

The Bay Restaurant.

Pier.

Pier.

Pier.

Pier.

Kaito Sok Kwu Wan, Mo Tat, Aberdeen.

Kaito Sok Kwu Wan, Mo Tat, Aberdeen.

Kaito Sok Kwu Wan, Mo Tat, Aberdeen.

Kaito Sok Kwu Wan, Mo Tat, Aberdeen.

Signs for Mo Tat's Villages.

Signs for Mo Tat's Villages.

New Village House.

New Village House.

Azaleas in a pot.

Azaleas in a pot.

Garden Gnome.

Garden Gnome.

Bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea and Java Glory.

Bougainvillea and Java Glory.

Interesting Tree.

Interesting Tree.

Old Village House.

Old Village House.

Outside a Village House.

Outside a Village House.

Village House.

Village House.

Old Village House.

Old Village House.

Villager Hanging Her Clothes.

Villager Hanging Her Clothes.

Village Well maybe.

Village Well maybe.

Archway in Old Village.

Archway in Old Village.

Window onto a garden.

Window onto a garden.

Building on a stream.

Building on a stream.

Mo Tat's Old Schoolhouse.

Mo Tat's Old Schoolhouse.

Mo Tat's Old Schoolhouse.

Mo Tat's Old Schoolhouse.

Banana Trees Line the Way.

Banana Trees Line the Way.

Mo Tat was surrounded by greenery.

Mo Tat was surrounded by greenery.

Some of the land around Mo Tat is swampy.

Some of the land around Mo Tat is swampy.

There's a very steep way up Ling Kok Shan from Mo Tat, but I did not go up by this route.

There's a very steep way up Ling Kok Shan from Mo Tat, but I did not go up by this route.

From Mo Tat I continued on the path to Yung Shue Ha. I passed a set of stairs leading up to Ling Kok Shan, but I intended to approach this from the other side as it isn't as steep. However, I used this way later to come back down.

Yung Shue Ha means under the banyan tree. On the walk there I passed a row of deserted, falling down houses in the woods. These were built by the Chow Clan who founded this village about two hundred years ago. At one point the Chows abandoned these houses and moved closer to the coast.

A Walk Through The Woods to Reach Yung Shue Ha.

A Walk Through The Woods to Reach Yung Shue Ha.

A Walk Through The Woods to Reach Yung Shue Ha.

A Walk Through The Woods to Reach Yung Shue Ha.

Interesting Tree.

Interesting Tree.

Ruined Building on Route.

Ruined Building on Route.

The Row of Abandoned Houses.

The Row of Abandoned Houses.

The Row of Abandoned Houses.

The Row of Abandoned Houses.

Inside a ruined house.

Inside a ruined house.

In the Abandoned Building.

In the Abandoned Building.

Present day Yung Shue Ha is a tiny village situated on a beach. It has one convenience store right next to its beach. The extensive, very soft sandy beach here is called Shek Pai Wan, which means Long Rocky Bay, and stretches all the way to the next village which is called Tung O. There were a few people camping here and the beach has some interesting rock formations. Many locals were out cleaning up the beach to remove the rubbish that gets washed up here.

Village House.

Village House.

Village House.

Village House.

Village Artwork.

Village Artwork.

Village Artwork.

Village Artwork.

Village Artwork.

Village Artwork.

Outside the Convenience Store.

Outside the Convenience Store.

Camping on the Beach.

Camping on the Beach.

Camping on the Beach.

Camping on the Beach.

Rocky Sculpture on the Beach.

Rocky Sculpture on the Beach.

Rocks on the Beach.

Rocks on the Beach.

The Beach

The Beach

The Beach

The Beach

I continued on towards Tung O. There was a small pier in the middle of the beach. As I got closer to Tung O I noticed a little shrine off to the left, so I went to take a look. This is a shrine to Hung Shing, who was a righteous government official who studied and encouraged others to study astronomy, geography and mathematics. He died young and was later deified. There are many legends in which Hung Shing saved people, especially fishermen, from tempests, so he is often regarded as the god of the sea.

Pier in the Middle of the Beach.

Pier in the Middle of the Beach.

Pier in the Middle of the Beach.

Pier in the Middle of the Beach.

Hung Shing Shrine.

Hung Shing Shrine.

Hung Shing Shrine.

Hung Shing Shrine.

At the Hung Shing Shrine.

At the Hung Shing Shrine.

In Front of the Shrine.

In Front of the Shrine.

In Front of the Shrine.

In Front of the Shrine.

In Front of the Shrine.

In Front of the Shrine.

Boats on the Beach.

Boats on the Beach.

Boats on the Beach.

Boats on the Beach.

Local Cleaning up the Beach.

Local Cleaning up the Beach.

The Beach.

The Beach.

On the way to the village of Tung O from the beach I wandered through swampy, bright green fields filled with white orchids and purple bindweed. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful here.

Pathway.

Pathway.

Green Fields.

Green Fields.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Tung O Village is one of the oldest on Lamma. Today it has just a handful of residents, as most of the younger ones have left. Some of the buildings here are crumbling. In the past Tung O's inhabitants lived by fishing and farming.

Tung O Village Sign.

Tung O Village Sign.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Tung O Village.

Ruined Building.

Ruined Building.

At the far end of the village there are two paths. One leads to Sham Wan Beach. Apparently this is a lovely sandy beach, though I have never been there. This beach is a nesting site for the endangered green turtle and thus it is out of bounds to the public from April 1st to October 31st each year. If you go there within these dates, you can be fined HKD50,000, around £5,000. The other path starts climbing up Ling Kok Shan. It's possible just to go part of the way up and then continue back to Sok Kwu Wan or, as I did, continue on to the top of the mountain. Ling Kok Shan can be translated as Water Chestnut Mountain.

Stairway up to next part of the walk.

Stairway up to next part of the walk.

As I started to climb I could see beautiful views across the surrounding coast line. Ling Kok Shan is also famous for its oddly shaped volcanic boulders. Some of these are precariously balanced on top of each other. The first large rock I saw is called Balcony Rock. I'm not sure why it's called this. Maybe you can stand on it or sit on it and look out over views like you were on your balcony.

Balcony Rock.

Balcony Rock.

After that I climbed further up the path. I reached a shelter where there were a choice of routes. To the left I could walk to a lookout pavilion. Behind the lookout pavilion was Mount Stenhouse, the highest point on Lamma; to the right was the path up Ling Kok Shan and straight ahead was a way back to Sok Kwa Wan. I believe it comes out near the Tin Hau Temple. I decided to go to the lookout pavilion first then double back and climb Ling Kok Shan. From the rocks on the way up to the lookout there are views over Lamma's power station. From the lookout pavilion there are views over Tung O.

Boulders on the sides of slope by lookout pavilion.

Boulders on the sides of slope by lookout pavilion.

Path up to Lookout Point. Mount Stenhouse in the background.

Path up to Lookout Point. Mount Stenhouse in the background.

Look out point.

Look out point.

Lookout Point.

Lookout Point.

Broken Marker.

Broken Marker.

Broken Marker.

Broken Marker.

View over the Power Station.

View over the Power Station.

Rocks near lookout pavilion.

Rocks near lookout pavilion.

Rocks near lookout pavilion.

Rocks near lookout pavilion.

View from lookout pavilion.

View from lookout pavilion.

After soaking in the views I headed back down then started climbing up the steps to Ling Kok Shan. The walk up follows several steep sets of stairs. It's well paved and easy to walk on, but it has absolutely no shade whatsoever, so I found it hard work in the unrelenting sunshine.

View of path up Ling Kok Shan.

View of path up Ling Kok Shan.

Steps.

Steps.

Rocks and Plants.

Rocks and Plants.

The rocks have protective bases to stop them rolling down the hillside.

The rocks have protective bases to stop them rolling down the hillside.

The rocks have protective bases to stop them rolling down the hillside.

The rocks have protective bases to stop them rolling down the hillside.

Looking back down.

Looking back down.

Rocks on climb up.

Rocks on climb up.

I think this is called Diamond Rock.

I think this is called Diamond Rock.

Split Rock.

Split Rock.

Balanced Rocks.

Balanced Rocks.

After what felt like a very long time I reached the top of the mountain. I walked along a ridge with fantastic views in both directions. There was a trigonometric marker and a transmitting station. Some of the best shaped rocks were up here. One looked like a face; another looked like a dog - people call this poodle rock or puppy rock. There are even some rocks up here somewhere which were used as an airaid
shelter during the war and hide the entrance to a Japanese war tunnel.

View from the ridge.

View from the ridge.

Beautiful view from the top.

Beautiful view from the top.

Finally a shelter with shade on the ridge.

Finally a shelter with shade on the ridge.

At the summit there were many fried egg plants.

At the summit there were many fried egg plants.

A View over the Power Station.

A View over the Power Station.

Marker at the Top of the Hill.

Marker at the Top of the Hill.

This rock formation looks like a duck.

This rock formation looks like a duck.

Almost at the transmitting station.

Almost at the transmitting station.

View one way looking towards the south of Hong Kong Island.

View one way looking towards the south of Hong Kong Island.

View the other way towards Lantau.

View the other way towards Lantau.

One of the interesting rock formations. This reminded me of a face.

One of the interesting rock formations. This reminded me of a face.

Balanced Rocks.

Balanced Rocks.

Interesting Rocks.

Interesting Rocks.

Poodle Rock or Puppy Rock.

Poodle Rock or Puppy Rock.

Poodle Rock or Puppy Rock.

Poodle Rock or Puppy Rock.

Precariously balanced rocks. The other side of Poodle Rock.

Precariously balanced rocks. The other side of Poodle Rock.

After enjoying the views I headed down the one thousand stairs back to Mo Tat. The views on the way down were spectacular. I had missed the 12.40 ferry from Sok Kwa Wan, so I decided to walk back down to Mo Tat Wan and catch the 1.15 Kaito to Aberdeen instead.

Time for a selfie.

Time for a selfie.

The way down

The way down

Beautiful view on the way down.

Beautiful view on the way down.

Beautiful View on the Walk Down.

Beautiful View on the Walk Down.

I waited in Mo Tat Wan till about 1.25 for the Kai to that leaves Sok Kwu Wan at 1.15. There are good views of Ap Lei Chau and Mount Johnson on the way back. The Kai to sails into busy Aberdeen Harbour. From there I jumped on bus 4 towards Central. I got off at Hong Kong University to switch to the MTR and make my way back home.

Kai to to Aberdeen.

Kai to to Aberdeen.

Huge container ship passing Mount Johnson.

Huge container ship passing Mount Johnson.

Arriving in Aberdeen Harbour.

Arriving in Aberdeen Harbour.

Arriving in Aberdeen Harbour.

Arriving in Aberdeen Harbour.

Posted by irenevt 01:21 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Great walk and pictures.--"Villager Hanging Her Clothes" What crime had they committed ? Ha Ha.

by alectrevor

You sound just like my husband. Whenever I say I'm going to hang the washing, he always says: "Why what's it done?"

by irenevt

Beautiful pictures. Glad to see you are enjoying your newfound freedom.

by Beausoleil

Thank you Sally, I'm currently quite busy looking after Peter, but hopefully will be able to start hiking again soon when he's feeling better.

by irenevt

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