20 January 2019
Visitors can enjoy long solitary walks under clear blue skies at Pak Lap Wan village. Photo: HKEJ
Visitors can enjoy long solitary walks under clear blue skies at Pak Lap Wan village. Photo: HKEJ

Rustic enchantment at Sai Kung’s High Island south

Sai Kung, often described as the back garden of Hong Kong, is an ideal place for holiday retreats.

Along the southern coastline of the High Island there, we have Tai She Wan (大蛇灣), Tung A (東丫), and Pak Lap (白臘) villages.

The three localities are unique in some ways and I find them enchanting.

Tai She Wan stands in a bleak and desolate landscape. To enter or exit the area, hikers have to go through overgrown shrub and woods. The access leading to the middle of nowhere gives you a real thrill.

The bay has become uninhabited. All you can find there now are two abandoned buildings in an absolutely devastating state, with glasses and decorations all fallen over the place.

This has been the result of multiple failed attempts since the 1970s by businessmen who were trying to make a fortune out of the quiet bay by running a cozy resort. The last owner was an expatriate who ended the business around a decade ago.

Opposite to Tai She Wan is a totally different landscape.

Tung A is a vibrant fishing village. As of now, mariculture rafts can still be seen afloat on calm waters.

On a recent trip to the place I found fishermen busy laying out their fish for drying in the open-air square in front of the Tin Hau temple. The fish smelt good and exotic.

Much of the dynamics have been contributed by a seafood restaurant, which has managed to draw quite a lot of foreign visitors coming from Sai Kung Town Center.

In terms of the scenery, Pak Lap Wan (白臘灣) beats Tung A’s Sha Kiu Tau (沙橋頭).

Pak Lap Wan has kept a rather humble profile as not many people outside knew about the place.

I had the privilege of enjoying long solitary walks under a clear blue sky. It’s not a perfect beach but surely you will start missing it as soon as you leave.

Unlike Tung A, there’s no seafood fest offered in Pak Lap Wan.

Nevertheless, having a bowl of noodles with luncheon meat and egg at a small store and watching the waves gently patting the sandy shore is itself quite a pleasure.

Getting there:

To go to Pak Tam Chung (北潭涌): Take bus 94 at Sai Kung Bus Terminus to Wong Shek Pier. Get off at Pak Tam Chung Station and find the Pak Tam Chung Barrier Gate and walk along Tai Mong Tsai Road for 5 minutes to the starting point of Section one of the MacLehose Trail.

To return from Pak Lap (白臘): Take a 20-minute walk back to Man Yee Road. Walk along the trail back to Pak Tam Chung for taking bus 94, or take a taxi to Sai Kung town center directly.

Point to note: The section to Tai She Wan is recommended for experienced hikers only.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 29.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version中文版]

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At Tung A, fishermen lay out their catch for drying in the open-air square in front of Tin Hau temple. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ contributor

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