Peng Chau is one of the smaller Hong Kong islands. It was the smallest of the outlying islands we visited during our last stay in Hong Kong, having enjoyed exploring Lamma and Cheung Chau on other days. The island is shaped a bit like a horseshoe, and is located close to Discovery Bay and Disney Land, both of which can be seen from the island’s north side on a fine day. We took the ferry from the Central Ferry Pier, the boat was much smaller than the other ferries we had been on before and there were less tourists waiting to make the same day trip.
The island’s port is located at the mid point, between two hills, very much like the layout we had seen on Cheung Chau, except on a smaller scale. It seemed almost unbelievable to imagine that 7000 inhabitants live here. The island was once home to a thriving fishing community and also hosted many small craft outfits, which sadly have mostly been replaced by industries on main land China. After landing we found a little covered wet market just next to the ferry pier, along with a few small shops and restaurants.
Our walk took us towards the east along the waterfront, past a playground, before turning right onto Peng Lei Road, where we stumbled onto a brightly coloured temple with the unusual name, Seven Sister’s Temple. To me it looked completely out of place, the colours more fitting to a Mexican bar then a Chinese place of worship, but that made us like it even more in some ways. There also was a more traditional looking, smaller shrine right beside it and it made me wonder if they maybe worshipped different gods.
When we walked on we passed some larger housing estates, which were quite a contrast to the little crowded houses we had seen earlier in the village. Some of the apartment blocks had definitely seen better times. Some abandoned boats were just left on the roadside and overgrown with weeds. In the close distance we could also see the tall towers of the high-rise condos of Discovery Bay, imitating parts of Hong Kong’s skyline and making use of the limited buildable area on Lantau island, with its convenient proximity to the airport and Kowloon.
The tarmac road ended at some point and the narrow Yu Peng path, which hugs the shoreline most of the northern side led us along the coast. We passed a deserted beach where we found lots of small shells and interesting stones. Close by I found some lonely, hidden graves in the hillside before the path started to slowly ascend into the hill.
Despite the remoteness of this part of the island we found some small houses in the woods without any kind of amenities like running water or electricity, that looked like people actually still lived there. Shortly after, the trees opened out again and we walked past farmed vegetable and fruit fields. Life certainly appeared to stand still on this island, more so than the other two, which gave it a rustic charm and felt very much like being a world away from downtown Hong Kong. We were surprised to find ourselves back to the rear of the main village of Peng Chau quickly, which made us realise just how small an island it actually was.
There was another temple, Lung Mo, and this one seemed to be very popular with the locals who were there to light incense sticks. Backing onto the street was Tung Wan beach, which probably never gets crowded, even on the hottest days of the year.
Taking a right turn through the narrow alleys of the main town for two blocks, we strolled on and sought out the trail to the other side of the island, which heads back up another hill.
The lane wound itself parallel to the coastline before making a steep incline to the top of Finger Hill, which at 95m is the highest point of the island. There we found a group of about five people with their easels and paints creating their own picture of the scenic view across the sea. We watched them paint for a while. Jerome was amazed by their incredible painting skills. Taking in the views, we could easily understand why someone might go to the effort of carrying the painting equipment that is needed all the way to this remote spot. Shortly after, some noisy teenagers turned up to take selfies, which gave us good reason to walk on and leave this beautiful place behind.
Our steps took us back down the winding path and into the village. There we found a long queue of elderly people, all standing in line, some of them in roll chairs, queuing! Unable to work out what they were after we strolled on, back to the centre of town. There we stopped at a bakery to buy some buns and drinks. We sat down on the harbour wall and waited for the ferry to arrive, which would take us back into the mayhem of Hong Kong.
Peng Chau was probably my favourite of the three islands, with its traditional and rural charm and authentic feel. Due to its small size it makes for a shorter day trip than the other islands. The walking trail can also be shortened or lengthened to your hearts content and during summertime a break on the beach should definitely be on the agenda. I would recommend this off the beaten track trip as an extra on a Hong Kong visit.