After yesterday’s post on the tourist island of Cheung Chau, today I’m headed somewhere much quieter – Lamma Island. Compared to Cheung Chau, Lamma covers five times the land area but has a quarter of the population – 6,000 residents over 13.55 km².
Lamma Island has two major townships: Sok Kwu Wan at the south-east end, and Yung Shue Wan at the north-west, with ferries operating to both. Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry operates the service, which leaves from the Central Piers, the same as the majority of the other Outlying Island ferries.
Lamma Island is located directly south of Hong Kong Island, with the ferry route hugging the shoreline. After leaving the edge of the urban area at Kennedy Town, the ferry leaves the main shipping route and passes through a narrow channel between Hong Kong Island and Green Island. A pair of historic lighthouses are located on the largely uninhabited island, built in 1875 and 1905 respectively.
On reaching the southern side of Hong Kong Island, the urban area changes from dense commerce and industry, to upper class apartment towers.
Continuing further away from shore, the sea becomes more crowded with a larger number of container ships moored in the area, having their cargo unloaded by a flotilla of smaller barges. Known as mid-stream cargo handling, containers are lifted on and off with the derrick cranes, and then transferred onto smaller barges for the final leg back to shore.
In a place like Hong Kong with not enough land to expand the container port, otherwise crazy ideas like transferring cargo in the middle of the ocean start to sound more practical!
About 30 minutes after leaving Central, the ferry arrives at Yung Shue Wan. The walk from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan takes around an hour, but the ferries back to Central from either town run only every 1 to 2 hours.
Along the harbour fishermen and their families still live the traditional way, with their village of squatters huts located on stilts above the high water mark, and the fleet of boats down below.
Back in the township, the narrow laneways mean bikes are the main mode of transport. Only a limited number of full sized cars and trucks allowed on the island, but they are still banned from inside the townships.
Another similarity to Cheung Chau is the use of motorised buggies to deliver goods: the difference here is these “Village Vehicles” have four wheels, not three: presumably the bigger island and longer journeys need a bigger vehicle to get around in.
For tourists there are a few restaurants and guest houses along the waterfront at Yung Shue Wan, but in all the township is relatively sleepy.
The maze of narrow streets continue around the harbour and up the hillsides, with houses clinging onto the steep slopes.
Headed inland from Yung Shue Wan the houses start to thin out, with traditional farming still occurring in the valleys between the mountains, the fields being surrounded by banana trees.
If you continue following the main road towards Sok Kwu Wan, you won’t find any cars, just endless mountain ranges, a few sandy beaches, and lots of places to go fishing.
By now, you’re probably seeing Lamma Island as a perfect island hideway, and you would be right except for one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb.
These chimneys belong to the Lamma Power Station, located on the other side of the hills from Yung Shue Wan. The station has just over 3,500 megawatts of generating capacity, and burns through 10000 tonnes of coal everyday. Building a coal fired power station on a small island sounds kind of crazy, until you realise Hong Kong has no indigenous coal resources, so it all needs to come in by boat anyway.