Monday 4 August 2008

Cheung Chau

We ventured over to Cheung Chau on Saturday. It's a little island to the south west of Hong Kong island, 35 minutes away by fast ferry. Cheung Chau is famous for its annual Bun Festival, and there are various faux bun towers all over the place for gullible tourists to buy. Can't imagine quite what you do with one of those things when you get it home, if, indeed, Cathay Pacific will let you get it home...

The streets of Cheung Chau are pretty tiny, so there are no cars - just Toy Town-style ambulances and police cars, which were specially designed for Cheung Chau, cute huh? (thanks to Michael Hansen for this pic)

We went to the Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre to try our hand at a spot of sea kayaking. It was v good - Ross and I managed quite well (although he's a pretty rubbish cox - I can just see Trudi shaking her head sadly at "two right!" which was the extent of our steering). The sea was pretty calm, we still got soaked though. We paddled across the bay, around the headland to another little beach, populated only by a canoodling couple until the simultaneous arrival of two double sea kayaks...

Haven't encountered any lush beaches yet, I must admit - there are loads of beaches, which often have reasonable facilities for changing and showering, but as I have mentioned before, there's quite a lot of crap in the sea. Maybe that'll be the next trend in UK TV - "Cash in the Beachcomber's Attic", or "The Antique Stuff-from-the-beach Roadshow". Unfortunately you usually only find half of a pair of slippers, the bottles are always empty, and the fishing nets are a bit hole-y.

Anyway, sea kayaking was really good fun, maybe we'll venture a bit further next time. Definite scope for jolly japes and finding secret caves. Which will probably be home to all manner of ruffians and pirates. I might add at this point that it's just impratical to sea kayak within the shark net (where would the swimmers go?) so we were conspicuously outside the buoyed area. But we did have life jackets on. I'm beginning to think that in the event of a shark attack you'd want it all over quickly, no? maybe the life jacket isn't such a good idea.

Enough gruesomeness. We got back and had a shower, then gins and tonics at the Windsurfing place cafe. It is very cool and laidback - kind of gave me the impression of a little Padstow in the South China Sea. The hot sun was setting, the mozzies were biting, and the ice was melting in our G&Ts - it felt undeniably holiday-ish. As Ross pointed out, when we look back at our photos, we'll wonder for a minute which holiday they were from...

After a bit of chillaxing, we got the ferry to Chi Ma Wan on Lantau - or at least tried to! the ferry semi-stopped at what looked like a completely deserted pier in the middle of nowhere, then carried on to one of the main towns on Lantau, Mui Wo. We met some people on the boat, one of whom taught English Lit to spoilt brats on Lamma (the hippy island) She has a 2 year contract, but she's breaking it a year and a month early because she can't bear it any longer.

Anyway, I'm kind of glad we didn't get off at Chi Ma Wan, slightly terrifying...We eventually got the bus from Mui Wo to Lower Cheung Sha beach, and The Stoep restaurant. It is virtually impossible to find, but luckily I heard some French people on the bus talking about it, so asked them about it - she had asked the bus driver (in Chinese) to stop at the right place, phew.

The Stoep is well known here for its chunky loaves of bread, and big braai selection. It's in a lovely spot right on the beach. Probably better for lunch - we eventually managed to get a taxi back to Mui Wo, and ran onto the ferry with about a minute to spare. A lovely, long, pleasantly tiring, relaxed day.

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