advertisement

To see Cheung Chau village, begin with a stroll along the Praya, the waterfront promenade right in front of the ferry pier. It's a good place from which to observe the many junks and fishing boats in the harbor. Although there seem to be fewer and fewer junks in Cheung Chau's harbor each time I visit, a small group of fishermen and their families still live on their junks here. I like this harbor more than Aberdeen because boats are moored right next to the waterfront, and I find it amazing how many families keep dogs aboard their boats (not to mention radar systems and computers). To the right as you exit the ferry pier are several open-air restaurants (and, as a sign of the times, a McDonald's), as well as the unimaginative-looking Regional Council Cheung Chau Complex, which houses a library, post office, and city market (daily 6am-8pm) with more than 200 stalls that sell everything from fresh seafood to vegetables.

On the opposite end of the Praya (to the left as you exit the ferry) are more waterfront restaurants, shops with bicycles to rent, staffed kiosks with photos of holiday rental flats, and souvenir shops. After about a 4-minute walk, take a right at the playground onto Pak She Fourth, at the end of which is the Pak Tai Temple (daily 7am-5pm), guarded by stone lions. Built in 1783, it's dedicated to the Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven, long worshipped as a Taoist god of the sea. Before the altar are also statues of two formidable generals, Thousand Miles Eye and Favourable Wind Ear, who together can see and hear everything. Beside the temple, on a shaded terrace, old villagers are almost always engaged in games of mah-jongg. But the most important event here is the Bun Festival, held in late April or May. It originated a century ago following a terrible plague and is famous throughout Hong Kong. It features 15m-tall (50-ft.) towers of buns (yes, they're edible) and a parade of children who "float" through the streets suspended by hidden wires and rods.

Leaving the Pak Tai Temple, take a left onto Pak She Street, which later becomes San Hing Street. As you walk back to the center of the village, you'll pass open-fronted shops that sell incense, paper funeral objects such as cars (cremated with the deceased to accompany them to the next life), medicinal herbs, lotus-seed cakes, pungent shrimp paste, vegetables, jade, rattan, cheap toys, and souvenirs. You'll also pass people's homes with the living rooms that hold the family altar opening onto the street. This is the traditional Chinese home, with the family business and communal rooms on the ground floor and the bedrooms up above. All day long you can hear people playing mah-jongg.

At the end of San Hing Street, at a square, take a left to Tung Wan Road, which cuts across the thinnest part of the island from the Praya with its ferry to Tung Wan Beach. Here, just past the square, is a gnarled old banyan tree, considered to be the dwelling place of the spirit of health and fertility. At the end of Tung Wan Road is Tung Wan Beach, the most popular beach on the island, with lifeguards and shark nets. Nearby, past the playground and Warwick Hotel, is a smaller public beach, Kwun Yam Beach, and the Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre (tel. 852/2981 2772; www.ccwindc.com.hk) with a pleasant outdoor cafe (daily 10am-7pm), windsurfing classes, and rental windsurfing boards (HK$90-HK$150 per hour, depending on the board size) and kayaks (HK$60 per hour for a one-seater, HK$100 for a two-seater). Unfortunately, views from both beaches are marred by the sight of the Lamma power plant and Hong Kong Island's high-rises.

From Tung Wan Beach, it's only a few minutes' walk via Tung Wan Road back to the Praya and ferry pier.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.