A languid bluish iridescent haze wraps the hourglass dimensions of the 3+ meters Cheung Chau or “long island” visible through a firewall of fishing boats, trawlers, junks, sampan, houseboats and rafts.
The svelte appearance is courtesy the sentient mountains at either end tapering to connect in the center, the patch of flat land, user-friendly and approachable. A 55 minute ride from Hong Kong’s Central ferry pier and we join the resters and revelers, downloaded by ferries at regular intervals, to look for the hidden treasures of this Ming era 1368-1644 fishing village.
The ‘treasure’ refers to the undiscovered pleasures of the Island and in part to the ambiguous looted wealth of the notorious pirate Cheung Po-tsai who used the Cheung Po Tsai Cave on the southwest tip of the island as his den.
A 5 minute walk from the pier is the Tung Wan beach with more onlookers, dogs and children than swimmers and a lone windsurfer.
Close by is the Windsurfing Center and the Kwun Yam Wan beach opposite Kwun Yum Temple. We give the beaches and temples a miss and stroll along the inner lanes munching on spiral potato twist, local to Cheung Chau, and frozen fruit drops.
The freshly painted, garish blue or yellow B & B pads, three star hotel, boutiques, hair styling salons, education shops, stationers and cafes spaced out with local Chinese eateries, crowded housing and wet markets selling shrimp paste, local delicacies, fresh and dried fish, vegetables, fruits and household paraphernalia. Canopied Tri-cycles, cycles, motorized carts and walkers of all ages weave through each other in the crowded narrow lanes.
Few hours in the crowded inner lanes and the pervasive fish aroma, largesse of fresh squids, prawns, crabs, sea urchins, shellfish etc., lures us to the seafood restaurants along the Praya, the main sea front thoroughfare that comes alive with the setting sun.
The food stalls and restaurants keep pace with the clicking chopsticks and spoilt for choice we settled for French toast, fried chicken wings and wedge potatoes at the Cheung Po Tsai Restaurant & Bar on the San Hing Praya Street. On the first floor of the restaurant is a museum of Cheung Chau related artifacts.
The ferries continued to spawn nightlifers, residents and tourists and the Praya was reverberating with foot falls.
Family Walking Trail: A must for hikers and nature lovers wanting to get away from the bustling Central Causeway of Cheng Chau. This is a three and a half hour walk around the Island, past craggy hillsides, quiet bays and beaches, temples and old missionary residences. The Southern half walk is decidedly more scenic, a two-hour walk, with spectacular views of Lantau and surrounding Islands and the Mini Great Wall or a walking trail.
The Pak Tai Temple: Constructed in 1783 and dedicated to popular Taoist God of the Sea and is venue of the annual spring time Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
Beitiao Pavilion: For a panoramic view of the Island and beyond