Taking a hike out to Cheung Chau

Updated: 2014-03-30 07:51

By Wang Yuke in Hong Kong (China Daily)

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Working in Hong Kong can be a hyper-charged experience at breakneck speed and most of its urban high-flyers search for weekend retreats that can help them recover enough for the next burst. One of their favorite places to go is Cheung Chau Island, one of the several haunts for seafood and relaxation.

It is easily accessible, with plenty of ferries to and from the outlying districts pier off the central business district on the island.

Hundreds travel to and fro every day with the numbers going up significantly during the weekends and on public holidays.

It is a leisurely 40-minute boat ride away, and that period allows visitors to gradually slow down and relax as they prepare for their Cheung Chau jaunt.

Cheung Chau Island used to be an essential fishing hub during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when trading and distribution of sea products flourished. It is still true in the present day, although the volume and methods have adapted to modern day demands.

Fishing is still very much the livelihood here, as witnessed by the inner harbor crowded with moored fishing boats. The yachts, however, are testament that it is now also a playground for the rich.

Two options await once you hit the main street. You can either turn left or right.

We suggest that whichever direction you choose, go rent a bicycle first. It will allow much better exploration and enable you to go beyond just a leisurely walk. It is great fun, especially with families and friends.

The juxtaposition of the humble village lifestyle and luxurious high life is another big appeal.

Street food stalls and open-air restaurants coexist with exquisite cafes. Baskets of dried seafood are placed side-by-side, next to artistic shops selling creative gadgets and bizarre inventions. Old-fashioned and contemporary ways of life do not clash, but fuse together surprisingly well.

Dong Wan, or East Bay beach, is a must-see.

The stretch of sea and the whiff of salt breeze will bring relief to stressed-out city folks.

Perch on a high point for a vantage view, kick off your shoes to paddle in the shallows or build a sand castle on the beach. Either that, or just lay back and count the fluffy clouds as they roll by, lulled by the gentle sound of the waves.

Once you are thoroughly relaxed, head for the fresh seafood to complete your trip.

Makeshift tables and chairs are laid out in a low-key but organic manner, lining the sides of the streets. Diners can have their pick of the abundant seafood - fish, crabs, prawns, shrimps, oysters and clams.

All are lightly and freshly cooked, perfectly preserving the natural flavors.

You have to bear with the occasional scooter roaring past and avoid the nervous cyclists that teeter by, but it's all part of the charm.

Stray cats lounging lethargically nearby may join your table without an invitation but they are normally polite, waiting patiently for scraps by the tables. After feeding, they are content to return to sunbathing with a full stomach.

As after-meal entertainment, you can walk down the meandering lanes and peer into rustic village residences and their peaceful yards.

If the charms of Cheung Chau have worked their magic, you can also choose to stay overnight. Plenty of apartments or rooms are available for rent and you can walk back to the ferry to ask any one of the agents eagerly waiting for business.

Most of the apartments include basic kitchen amenities, which will allow you to cook your own seafood, or rustle up a barbecue on the balcony.


 Taking a hike out to Cheung Chau

Grilled seafood at street stalls are a must-try in Cheung Chau. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 03/30/2014 page9)