Peng Chau island – 坪洲

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My brother lives in Hong Kong but has never visited any of the nearby islands so we both decided to check them out. There are many islands to visit but once I learned that Peng Chau was only 0.98km it was decided. We took a ferry to Central then to the tiny Peng Chau island. The town itself was extremely small and exotic sounding birds were twittering and tweeting. The place looked like it was straight out of the 1940’s – almost no technology in sight, wild-but-tame-looking dogs roaming around, people riding bicycles everywhere, fisherman covering the rocks, and old couples just sitting around – doing absolutely nothing. Sitting around and doing nothing seems to be a past time in Hong Kong, I don’t quite understand it.

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All aboard

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Wandering the streets of Peng Chau

We make our way through the small town and zigzagged through quiet alleys selling food and clothing. No english anywhere and nothing for tourists though we did find a few cute cats along the way.

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I'm not sure if this is a menu or a warning sign for tourists who take too many photos

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Old style meets new tech is a common theme in Hong Kong and surrounding areas - jury rigged electric lanterns are everywhere

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Cute but not really that friendly

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Bananas for sale, similar to what you'd see in Hong Kong

The town road soon turned rough before turned into a dirt road that wound up the hill and ultimately ended as a poorly marked hiking path. A haphazardly painted “Finger Hill” sign pointed the way. It was nearly a 45 degree climb but once at the top we could see the other islands nearly. Fun fact – if you sweat in 70% humidity you don’t really dry off and cool down.

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Hiking up FiNGER HiLL

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Poorly camouflaged technology during sunset

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The path to the left was a steep ascent to the peak. I have no clue where the path to the right led

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Nearing the peak

After conversing with some Chinese tourists for a bit we decided to go down the other side of the hill which quickly proved to be a mistake. The sun went down extremely quickly while I was trying to take some long exposure photos and we found ourselves on a nearly pitch black path. iPhone screen to the rescue, we pressed on down the hill instead of backtracking. We eventually reached the bottom of the hill and found an awesome little private beach.

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Rusting abandoned heavy equipment

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Nearby islands shot from a dark and sketchy but cute private cove/beach

After taking a few more photos we realized we had reached a dead end. The only way back was all the way back up the hill – a twenty minute uphill hike in the pitch black. I scouted the area and found an unmarked dirt path that led around the power station and through a dark field. After a few minutes we saw some light in the distance and loudly cheered and sped up. Our cheering roused some local dogs who started growling at us from what sounded like 50 yards away on the other side of the field. We stopped moving and they stopped growling. Once we started moving again we heard them barking and rushing towards us through the reeds. I could only make out one moving shape in the darkness but Jordan saw three. Jordan yelled “RUN!” and I grabbed my camera body which was hanging from my neck and we both ran as fast as we could towards the light and up the steep hiking trail we found. After a lung-burning and leg-aching sprint which felt like it lasted for ages, I finally stopped and looked back. I heard dogs barking but they seemed lost. I smelled tons of incense and saw incense burning all the way along the road behind us. Apparently we had stumbled on a grave site and I presumed all the incense caused the dogs to lose our scent (or lose interest). We decided to hike up to the grave site since it was well-lit and we caught our breath. I realized I had lost my lens cap but there was no way I was going back.

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Flowers left at the grave site, incense scent in the air

After walking around the entire island the long way we made it back to town. Hungry, we checked out the few local restaurants and chose the busiest. To one side of us sat a table full of jolly and drunk old local men and the table next to us had a large family happily eating and drinking and laughing. There were a few local dogs wandering the streets too and we wondered if any of them were the ones that chased us. Doubtful…

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Now you know where to go if you want decent food and drink

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Dinner time. There was no menu and I can't vouch for the cleanliness

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A Hong Kong family visits their older relatives in Peng Chau for dinner

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It drizzled a bit but we stuck it out like everyone else and enjoyed our meal

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Jordan even made nice with one of the local dogs

None of the waitresses spoke any english but Jordan was able to communicate that we were hungry and that they should bring out “good stuff, her favorites – tofu, pork, and vegetables”. Out came Mapo Tofu, Shanghai noodles, garlic bok choy, and sweet and sour pork. Wondering if that’s what they just served westerners I looked around and the other tables had similar dishes.

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Delicious

After a long relaxing (and surprisingly delicious) dinner Jordan and I took the ferry back.

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Jordan was happy he wasn't eaten by dogs

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We slept on the ferry back… and it looked like our ferry driver did too

I highly recommend Peng Chau island to anyone traveling through Hong Kong. Be prepared to stay for at least a few hours so you can soak up the town, wander the hiking paths, and take in the views. You’ll be amazed that such a wonderful sleepy fishing town is only 20 minutes from the always-hectic Hong Kong.

If you are coming from the Kowloon side you can catch a ferry to Central from the Star Ferry terminal then walk towards IFC and look for the Peng Chau ferry. Boats leave about once an hour and run until midnight.