Date
22 July 2017
Built between 1957 and 1963, the Shek Pik Reservoir is the third largest reservoir in Hong Kong, with a storage capacity of 24 million cubic meters. Photo: blog.comefromhk.com
Built between 1957 and 1963, the Shek Pik Reservoir is the third largest reservoir in Hong Kong, with a storage capacity of 24 million cubic meters. Photo: blog.comefromhk.com

What it was like to hike Lantau in the time of the boat people

On a clear day, you could see people hiking the Lantau Trail from the Shek Pik Reservoir to Shui Hau Village.

And in Shek Lam Chau, you have the best shot at Tai A Chau on Soko Islands.

Now it’s deserted.

In the 1970s, Tai A Chau was home to more than 100 families who planted pineapples and raised pigs for a living.

Many were refugees from Vietnam who lived in detention camps built for them by the colonial government.

When rioting broke out in 1989, the last indigenous family on the island lost their home and possessions, forcing them to leave and settle on Cheung Chau Island.

Back then, the trail would take me to Lo Kei Wan Beach which had its shown share of refugee stories.

One came in 1979 when a cargo ship with 1,000 refugees beached on the island.

It emerged that human traffickers had been responsible for the treacherous journey.

The boat people paid the snakeheads US$3,000 each to ferry them from Vietnam.

But before reaching shore, the traffickers took off in lifeboats, leaving their human cargo behind, stranded in the unseaworthy vessel.

A retired marine who was among the refugees managed to keep the ship afloat and point it toward the shore.

Lo Kei Wan is hard to miss. On its hilltop, silhouetted against a mountain, sits a rock shaped like a roster’s beak.

From there, it’s a short trek to Shui Hau Village.

Its name means “exit of streams”, inspired by rivers of water that ran from Lantau Peak before the Shek Pik reservoir was built.

At low tides, the muddy plain is flat and broad.

Many holidaymakers, armed with baskets, can be seen raking the sand for clams.

Many pose a danger to the delicate marine life, with small clams and rare horseshoe crabs indistinguishable in the mud.

Past a bridge, the trail continues for almost one kilometer along the South Lantau Road to the nearest bus stop.

Getting there:

To go to Shek Pik: Take bus route 1, 2 at Mui Wo bus terminal or bus route 11, 23 in Tung Chung.

To return from Shui Hau Village: Take bus route 1, 2 to Mui Wo ferry pier or bus route 11, 23 to Tung Chung.

Time: About two hours

Reference: Government website 

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 8.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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DY/JP/RA

Tai A Chau as seen from Shek Lam Chau (left). Tai A Chau (right) as it appeared in 1989, showing the Vietnamese refugee detention center. Photos: blog.comefromhk.com, epd.gov.hk


A rocked shaped like a roster’s beak (left) stands on a mountain. At right, muddy plain in Shui Hau Village is home to small clams, conches and rare horseshoe crabs. Photos: HKEJ


Lantau Trail (Section 9) from Shek Pik to Shui Hau. Photo: Google Map


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