August/September 2020

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August/ September 2020




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A signed copy of Hitchhiking to Hong Kong by Tom Gorman


Publishers in Lantau since 2002


August/ September 2020

10 PERSONA Meet Esslin Terrighena the founder of Team for Animals in Lantau South

14 MUI WO SUPPLEMENT Insider’s guide to Mui Wo – where to eat, drink, shop and hang out

26 WALKABOUT Hike from Ngong Ping Road over Elephant Mountain and down to Tai O

30 HOME CHEF Ice-cold fruit drinks to get you through those hot summer nights

36 MOMENTS Read an excerpt from The Tiger Hunters of Tai O by John Saeki


Heading out for a hike/ Col Sim
















Photo by Duey Tam



To read the cover story, turn to page 10

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Esslin Terrighena in Mui Wo

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Amaira Bali and Zahrah Hasan: First-prize winners in the DB Kitchen Baking Competition

2019 / 2020

(Under 10 category)

#Ittasteslikelove Get behind breastfeeding in public

For the latest Life on Lantau updates

Extreme hiking in South Lantau Are we giving our kids a moral education?



J U LY 2 2020 AUGUST 020


The well-being of our students is our top priority. We help students to develop their Character Strengths and Growth Mindset through engaging learning activities.

School Bus Service available for nts South Lantau stude

A Lantau Private Primary School From Reception To Year 6 British Curriculum and Daily Mandarin Classes Please contact us to schedule a school visit T: +852 2984 0006 | E: | Units A & B, 1/F Silver Centre Building, 10 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road, Mui Wo, Lantau Island, New Territories silverminebayschool EDB Reg No: 579009






PHOTOGRAPHERS Terry Chow Duey Tam CONTRIBUTORS Elizabeth Kerr Jason Pagliari John Saeki

In a desperate move to free up hospital beds, Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Chai Wan has been earmarked as the first community facility to house stable, symptom-free coronavirus patients. The ‘holiday village’ is currently a quarantine centre for people who have been in close contact with confirmed cases, and those returning from high-risk areas overseas. Hospital Authority chief executive Dr Tony Ko Pat-sing also revealed on a morning radio programme on July 18, that AsiaWorld-Expo may soon be used to serve the same purpose.

Tel: 2987 0167 Advertising enquiries: DISCLAIMER The views expressed in Life on Lantau are not necessarily those of the publisher, editor or contributors. The publisher and editor cannot be held responsible for differences of opinion or statements published in good faith. The publisher, contributors, their employees and partners are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors or omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication and expressly disclaim all and any liability for any such action of any person. The mention of specific companies or products in articles or advertisements does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by this magazine or its publisher in preference to others of a similar nature which are not mentioned or advertised. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without permission.


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PRINTING Champion Design & Production Co. Ltd Flat C & D 9/F Sing Teck Factory Bldg 44 Wong Chuk Hang Rd Hong Kong BAY MEDIA LTD Flat 6E Elegance Court Hillgrove Village Discovery Bay Lantau Island Hong Kong

mid a raft of measures, announced in July, to combat Hong Kong’s third wave of infections, health authorities revealed that more facilities will be made available for people infected with COVID-19 – specifically those who are in a sufficiently stable condition to look after themselves.

AsiaWorld-Expo has been used as a virus test centre since late March, and Ko expressed confidence about existing infection control measures on site. “We have experience in work procedures and operations there,” he said, adding that key components, such as the ventilation system, had been vetted by experts earlier this year. However, Ko’s confidence in the site has been called into question by Professor David Hui Shu-cheong. The government adviser and respiratory medicine expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong has stipulated that a sewage system, specifically equipped for medical waste disposal, will need to be installed before the expo can house patients. Meanwhile, the government plans to build about 2,000 more quarantine units near Hong Kong Disneyland. Some 800 newly constructed quarantine units in Penny’s Bay are already in use. “In addition to filling the current needs, the new facilities will also help Hong Kong better manage the next wave, as experts are expecting a new outbreak in winter,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at a press briefing last month.




n July 17, LegCo’s Finance Committee completed its last meeting of the current term without vetting a funding request for engineering studies related to the controversial Lantau Tomorrow Vision (LTV), also known as the East Lantau Metropolis. Had the HK$550 million funding been approved, the studies related to massive land reclamation in the waters around Lantau would have gone ahead, something most observers believe would have paved the way for LegCo to greenlight construction of the 1,700-hectare project in the near future. The funding request placed second to last on the list of items to be discussed on July 17, meaning that the lawmakers were unlikely to have the time to approve or even debate it. To make doubly sure of this, Democratic Party legislator Roy Kwong moved a motion to adjourn the debate three hours early. In the end, the committee only had to time to decide eight of the 21 items on its list, before wrapping up the current legislative session.

“Lots of accidents happen,” Kwong told his colleagues. “Maybe suddenly if the Lantau Tomorrow Vision project is brought up, all this money would end up dumped in the sea. If I don’t drag out this chat, maybe the project [will go ahead].”
 The government will have to make a new funding request to a newly elected committee in September. However, Council Front lawmaker Chu Hoi-dick, among others, has urged the government to reassess its position on LTV. “The big picture is changing, and it costs a lot of money… If we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on pandemic relief, I think the government really needs to have a [rethink] on whether to continue it or not,” he said. LTV would be the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history. The development of the area around Kau Yi Chau, Hei Ling Chau and Peng Chau is estimated to cost HK$256 billion: HK$140 billion in land reclamation and HK$116 billion for additional infrastructure. The land reclamation and infrastructure development around Sunny Bay, Lung Kwu Tan and Tuen Mun is estimated to cost HK$95 billion. According to Chu, the total cost could, in fact, easily exceed HK$1 trillion. Its critics say LTV is overpriced and unnecessary. Others are concerned about the environmental impact of the development, which would put further strain on Hong Kong’s ecology. The government says LTV will improve livelihoods by generating approximately HK$141 billion in yearly revenues, providing 200,000 job opportunities and housing up to 700,000 people.






Lantau Beer Dash

Country of Origin

Lantau 2 Peaks

Barclays MoonTrekker

Starts at the China Bear, Mui Wo

Starts at the China Bear, Mui Wo

Starts at Citygate, Tung Chung

Starts at Citygate, Tung Chung

Run from Mui Wo to Pui O in aid of the South Lantau Buffalo Society

Compete for your home country by running 30 kilometres with a team of three

Enjoy scenic views while trail running up and over Lantau and Sunset peaks

Race 30, 40 or 50 kilometres overnight to raise funds for The Nature Conservancy

August / September 2020




e ould lik If you w tured os fea t o h p your to see email page, is h t on .hk d e m y ba duey@

On June 28, Jenny Quinton and her team at Ark Eden in Mui Wo hosted a special treeplanting event for the Green Dragons HK, a group of dragon boaters dedicated to spreading the word about plastic pollution. The event was a part of the Green Dragons’ 2020 campaign: ‘20 ways to break up with plastic. It doesn’t love you anyway.’ For more on the event turn to page 22

Photos by Terry Chow


August / September 2020

On June 22, a few days before the annual Dragon Boat Parade, Tai O Heritage Hotel invited Tai O resident Mr Fan Ah Chiu and his son to craft a locally themed dragon boat from recycled materials. The art piece, crafted from old shrimp-paste barrels, wooden planks salvaged from local stilt houses, and the head and tail of a retired dragon boat, is now on display at the hotel. Find more

familiar faces @

Photos courtesy of

Hikers from across Lantau and beyond took to the trails last month, braving the heat to soak up some amazing views. Find more familiar faces @

Photos courtesy of & by Terry Chow

August / September 2020



Entrepreneur of the Month – Adrienne Ng The founder of Treasure Island Group shares the secrets of her success


y business covers outdoor education, teambuilding, food and events, and charity. We’re based on beautiful Pui O Beach and, at its heart, Treasure Island Group (TIG) is focused on outdoor education and recreation – getting Hong Kong kids out into nature in a safe and educational way, and giving them the knowledge and confidence to enjoy themselves in the natural world. When they first enrol on our camps, a lot of the kids are scared of getting mud on their hands but by the end of the week, they are covered in it, with massive smiles on their faces. We work with many of the main international schools in Hong Kong and Guangdong during term time, and in the school holidays we run surf and adventure camps. At weekends our facility transforms into The Beach Club. Local residents and Hong Kong islanders can relax in the restaurant and bar, and watch some truly amazing sunsets. TIG is a success because we are consistent about developing the core business – that’s our focus. But at the same time, we make sure we can ride the highs and lows of being a seasonal operation by seeking out complementary business solutions.

Photo courtesy of Treasure Island Group

To succeed in business, you need to locate an opportunity to do something that you love… and then seize it! I saw an opportunity in the outdoor education and recreation market 24 years ago, and I’ve never looked back. In the beginning, I ran camps out of my van and used the public campsite in Pui O. Then years later, I convinced the local village chiefs to allow me to convert a large parking lot into a campsite and operate out of the existing beachside facility. Success is all about being in the right place at the right time, and it’s about being prepared to take a leap of faith – in yourself, in your location, and in the people working alongside you. I got lucky and I’m very grateful for that every day. My advice for someone looking to start up a business is to work very hard and refuse to give up. You need to have an understanding of every part of your business and know how to do every job yourself. Having people management skills is very important, and you need to do your market research properly. When setting up TIG, I focused on Lantau’s natural ‘treasures,’ so many of which are on offer on incredible Pui O Beach. I also played to my own strengths. Even as a young woman, I knew how to write outdoor education programmes and curriculums because I’d studied Leisure and Sport Management at university in Canada. 8  LIFE ON LANTAU

August / September 2020

The thing that interests me the most about my business is developing young leaders. Every year we have a new wave of amazing young adults from all around the world, who come and work for us. Nurturing their talent and their passion for the outdoors is the most rewarding thing about my work. When hiring staff, I always ask: “Why do you want to work long hours in the outdoors with lots of kids?!”

Adrienne Ng on her beloved Pui O Beach

The greatest challenge I’ve faced has been the combined pressure of the protests and COVID-19. But I’m confident we will make it though the other side even stronger than before. Afterall, the typhoons that come in and regularly destroy much of the facility haven’t stopped us. We have now had to rebuild whole sections of our building three times. My greatest achievement is the number of barriers I have broken through since starting Treasure Island 24 years ago. I am proud to be a female entrepreneur in the outdoor education industry, which remains male dominated to this day. It has often felt like an uphill struggle and yet here I am standing proudly on the beach. My plan for the future is to continue doing what I love and to keep running this wonderful place, sustainably, for as long as possible. This means playing an important role in the community, inspiring kids to learn about the outdoors, while gaining confidence in it, and, of course, working with our crew of passionate young leaders. The entrepreneurs I most admire are Serena Williams and Yvon Chouinard. Serena is an outstanding athlete, and a mum. She’s smart and powerful, and she stands up for gender equality in sports. Yvon is the owner and founder of Patagonia and I have the upmost respect for his integrity, direction and drive, particularly in making his business sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI). My favourite social-media platform is word of mouth. When kids rave to their friends about their adventures at TIG, and encourage them to sign up for one of our camps, well, that is the best testimonial we could ever hope to get. My personal motto is ‘keep it real’ and be kind.


Treasure Island Group,


Here’s your chance to win great prizes!


Life on Lantau prizes are incredibly easy to get your hands on, and you have until August 10 to apply. Simply scan the barcode, or go to, select the giveaway you want, and enter your details into the online form.

Author Tom Gorman and VIBE Book and Music Shop are offering two readers a signed copy of Hitchhiking to Hong Kong (worth HK$240 each).

Hitchhiking to Hong Kong: A Memoir of an American Editor's Life and Travels in Hong Kong and China since the Cultural Revolution kicks off with Gorman hitchhiking to Hong Kong in the mid-1970s and setting up a publishing company. It goes on to record the author’s adventures throughout China in the transition years between the Mao and post-Mao era. You’ll find encounters with evil spirits; hilarious crosscultural communication bloopers; an idyllic Hong Kong island with only two residents; an invasion of rats in a leading Guangzhou hotel; and an 11-hour drive from Guangzhou

to Shenzhen when the latter was still a muddy construction site. Entertaining and highly readable, Hitchhiking to Hong Kong is illustrated with Gorman’s personal photographs from the era. You can pick up a copy at VIBE in Mui Wo, or at

Congratulations to last issue’s winners Kerensa Preedy-Houston and Pia Minsberg for an olive-wood bread dish from Zeitouna Olive Oil; and Ira Daragnez and Jintana Banchuen for a six-pack of craft beer and cider from Rotten Head Craft Beer Delivery

Dogs and cats on Lantau need you! To adopt or foster a pet and make a difference, head to To offer your support by donating or volunteering, head to TAILS’ Adoption Days are held every Saturday, 2 to 5pm; usually we will be at China Bear (Mui Wo) or Treasure Island (Pui O). Stay tuned for weekly location updates by following us on Facebook ( and Instagram ( TAILS’ adoption fee is HK$1,500 for dogs and HK$1,000 for cats. This fee covers the first set of annual vaccinations, rabies vaccination, microchip, de-worm and de-flea treatment, heartworm test and 6 months of heartworm prevention, plus de-sexing surgery and any additional required medical treatment and animal care received prior to adoption. TAILS’ priority is to find the right match that will be in the best interests of both the animal and the family. Please fill in a foster or adoption questionnaire at

Jane is just 8 weeks old. She’s from a litter of three newly rescued pups (Jane, Judy and Astro – The Jetsons!) who are all looking for families to take them in and love them forever! Charlie is 11 months old. She was found running around scared looking for food, but she has grown into a beautiful, loving cat who loves to play and chat to her foster family.

Bubi is 12 months old. He loves being outdoors exploring and hiking and he is calm, gentle, playful, friendly and loyal with humans, K9s or felines! He loves to cuddle! Bak-Bak is 12 months old. He is calm, gentle, sweet and easy-to-train, and he loves spending time with his fosters. Like his brother Bubi, he loves socialising with other dogs and going on hikes.


TAILS of the City

Photos by Duey Tam

Mui Wo resident Esslin Terrighena is stepping into some big animal-welfare shoes with Team for Animals in Lantau South (TAILS). But, as Elizabeth Kerr discovers, her volunteer work is a natural extension of her normal working day


August / September 2020

Cindy Bouw, Cary Shakeshaft-Nicholson, Andrew McDonald and Esslin Terrighena, with Tango and Pepsi


t’s around lunchtime and the day is already getting away from Dr Esslin Terrighena. Slipping out from her Jardine House office after an urgent, last-minute consultation, she plops down in one of the armchairs in the lobby-level Starbucks. Her practice is an ideal eight minutes from the ferry to Mui Wo, where she currently lives with two dogs (of the exclusive ‘mongrel’ variety) and a rotating cast of fosters, including the sole survivor of a litter of abandoned kittens.

A chartered psychologist at Mind Balance (, Esslin spends her time helping people deal with trauma and, like so many of her breed, she’s a pulsating ball of bright, light healing energy – and full of fun. “Are you a Star Trek or a Star Wars person?” she asks, debating the age-old notion that one can’t be both, and conceding, “I’m a Star Trek person, I just can’t do the other one.” At one point she launches in to a detailed breakdown of the idiocy of The Core. She digs a bad movie as much as the rest of us. She’s wearing bright turquoise pants. Offering therapy to clients A native of Germany, Esslin spent some time in the UK and Australia before landing at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). It was a combination of travel and study that compelled her to relocate to Hong Kong in 2013. “I’m a traveller – that’s one of my main passions, which makes this lockdown so difficult right now – and I wanted to be based in Asia for a while; it was my next destination. HKU had a really good doctorate opportunity I was interested in,” she recalls. That PhD was in affective neuropsychology, a branch of psychology that specialises in how the brain processes emotions, including trauma, anxiety and depression. “Growing up, I always had a keen interest in the human mind and behaviour. Having witnessed first-hand how untreated mental-health issues can impact entire family systems over multiple generations, I cannot emphasise the importance of psychotherapy enough,” she says. “My aim

foremost is helping people to learn to genuinely trust and value themselves with their strengths and also their weaknesses. I have found over the years that making an active effort in understanding, normalising and accepting the world from another person’s perspective can release so much misplaced anxiety, self-loathing and emotional pain. This is why I do what I do.” Esslin has been practicing in Hong Kong since 2017, and admits that being a mental-health professional in the SAR is a bit of a challenge. Afterall, ours is a city that prefers to sweep mentalhealth issues under the rug rather than confront them – and provide care for those in need. “There is a lot of stigma, so a lot of people don’t want to admit they have a problem, or they realise they have a problem but they don’t want to make the time to deal with it. It’s hard work,” she says. That said, Hong Kong is currently experiencing a moment of undeniable trauma and, according to Esslin, “A lot more people are experiencing mental-health issues. Suddenly they’re battling depression. I’d like to think we’ll all come out of this with more empathy.” Helping four-legged friends Empathy has stretched to animals too. Worldwide, animal shelters and rescues have reported a spike in adoptions as people struggle with loneliness, or have simply finally found the time to put into pet ownership. Animal welfare is, perhaps unsurprisingly, also near and dear to Esslin’s heart. She adopted her first dog while still living on Hong Kong Island as a student. She wanted all the conveniences of the city, but when the dog showed a fondness for the beach, she thought, “What kind of life am I providing for her?” Hence the move to Mui Wo three years ago. Mui Wo is still pretty small and it didn’t take long for Esslin to meet then neighbour Jacqui Green of PALS (Protection of Animals Lantau South) and get involved with the local animal-welfare

August / September 2020



community. When Jacqui left two years ago, and PALS disbanded, there was a gap, which someone had to fill. “For some reason, people would call me and tell me there was a dog abandoned here, or a cat there,” Esslin says. “And I would think, ‘What do you want me to do about it?’ Recognising a need for PALS’ service, I had to figure something out.” And so it was that Team for Animals in Lantau South (TAILS, was born 18 months ago. “Our aim is helping abandoned, homeless, neglected, abused and injured dogs and cats around South Lantau,” Esslin says. “We do our best to provide medical care, nurture and rehoming for our rescue animals, and we also offer education to encourage responsible animal handling and care.” Freshly armed with charitable status that will help with actual fundraising, TAILS is ably stepping in where PALS left off. “I look back at Jacqui and the couple of other people who helped run PALS and I don’t know how they did it,” Esslin marvels, happy to admit she needs all the help she’s managed to accumulate. “As the founder of TAILS, I have recruited a strong team to handle the day-to-day work, and contribute to our management and growth. This is how TAILS was always intended to be built – it’s a team, not a one-person show.” TAILS’ all-volunteer staff includes foster and adoption coordinator Cindy Bouw, Carina Milligan in marketing, social-media coordinator Vannesa Yeung, veterinary nurse Aiko Fujioka Henderson and hands-on rescue workers Andrew McDonald and Cary ShakeshaftNicholson. “This is not about me,” Esslin stresses. “It’s healthier for a society and a community if an organisation is a ‘something’ rather than a ‘somebody.’ There’s more opportunity to grow and help more animals if we have a team doing different things. “The team is super committed to handling the different parts that make an animal rescue run,” Esslin adds. “Most of us have full-time jobs, and this comes with its limitations, for instance availability and response rate etc., but it shows that we truly care enough to give up our free time for these wonderful animals.”

“Sometimes it’s unreasonable when people offer to foster for a week because the kids need something to play with” Fostering and adoption TAILS has no physical premises for the dogs and cats in its care, relying instead on a foster system. All fosters are required to commit to fostering for a minimum of two weeks, and to bringing the animals to the vet and to adoption days. Animals are not fostered or rehomed on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis, and not all adoption applications are successful. TAILS’ priority is to find the right match that will be in the best interest of both the animal and the family. “There’s been an adoption spike in Hong Kong this year because people have suddenly had time to settle the animals in, and there have also been more people looking to foster. But we do have to say no on occasion,” Esslin says. “Sometimes it’s unreasonable when people offer to foster for a week because the kids need something to play with. Not all puppies, in particular, can handle that much instability. Occasionally we’ll get pushback, and asked why we say no. But we do know how to do this. We’re grateful for our fosters because we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them, but it’s not entertainment.” She pauses for a moment. “However, we do need more volunteers, and more people to provide these animals with forever homes.” TAILS adoption days are held twice a month on a Saturday, from 12pm to 3pm, in front of the China Bear in Mui Wo. The adoption fee is HK$1,500 per dog and HK$1,000 per cat. Anyone who is 21 and over can adopt a pet, provided they are able to provide a safe, stable home, in which the animal will get a lot of attention and love.

Andrew and Esslin with Tango


August / September 2020

The link between pet ownership and mental health has been debated for decades, and Esslin for one believes caring for a pet makes us happier. Interestingly too, she’s done work with animal behaviour and engagement, and sees potential in adapting techniques she uses in her psychology practice for traumatised animals. Helping animals with trauma is what Esslin’s about. You can’t really say she ‘wears two hats’ or juggles two passions, rather her volunteer work is an extension of what she does for a living. She’s there to help us – her two-legged clients and four-legged friends – overcome suffering and live our best lives.


Mui Wo Photos by Duey Tam

Where to eat, drink, shop and hang out


August / September 2020

Madrasa Faizan e Ahlebait, Tung Street, Tung Chung


n this, our first insider’s guide to Mui Wo, we’re inviting you to enjoy the village and its many attractions as the locals do. We’ve sorted through everything Mui Wo has to offer to bring you the best of the best all in one handy compact guide. From excursions to education, and pastimes to pets, it’s all here. One of South Lantau’s busiest neighbourhoods, Mui Wo is a fascinating mix of the rural and rustic, commercial and cosmopolitan. There’s gorgeous Silvermine Bay with its gleaming crescent of sand – for some that’s journey’s end. Then, of course, there are the hikes to be had in the hilly environs, and the feral water buffalo to spot as they wander the village streets. No doubt Mui Wo has a wild side, it’s home to people who prefer the countryside to the ‘Big Smoke,’ but it’s also a bustling little urban hub in its own right. As such, Mui Wo is brim-full of interesting businesses continuing to do what they do best, pleasing local and visitors alike, despite the pandemic. Not content with being places for the community to shop and hangout, a few of these – notably VIBE Book and Music Shop and Lantau Base Camp (LBC) – have become tourist attractions in their own right. People travel from across Hong Kong to pick up a rare LP at VIBE, or a pair of hiking shoes at LBC. And it’s a similar story with Mui Wo’s bars and restaurants. The China Bear was the forerunner, sat right on the bay where the ferry pulls in, but now there are plenty of exciting places to get a bite to eat. Again, you’re looking at a truly cosmopolitan mix – if you fancy eating local in Mui Wo that’s fine, but if you’re hungry for Italian, Nepali or even Turkish, that’s fine too. Wandering the village streets, we uncover a couple of homemade South East Asian treats that you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere else in Hong Kong. Last but not least, Ark Eden, the fabled eco-education and permaculture centre in the Mui Wo hills, deserves a special mention, and we encourage you to get up there to plant some trees with Jenny Quinton and her crew when you’re next in the area. In this guide, we’ve also highlighted the 400-year-old Man Mo Temple in nearby Pak Ngan Heung and, of course, the once bustling silver mine above Silvermine Waterfall. Welcome to Mui Wo! If you’re a local reading this, we hope we’ve done your home justice, if you’re not, we hope we’ve encouraged you to pay the village another visit. You may never want to leave.

August / September 2020



ROCKIN’ GOOD VIBES: Mui Wo bookstore turns 2


ary Brightman may have had to keep VIBE Book and Music Shop’s two-year anniversary celebrations on the down-low this year but his popular Mui Wo store has remained open throughout the COVID-19 crisis and, a quick glance around – the shelves are packed with new and pre-loved books in various languages, as well as vinyl LPs, CDs, DVDs, record turntables, stationary, t-shirts and other “cool stuff” – reveals that he has every intention of riding out the ‘third wave.’ Rewind two years: VIBE was born out of Terry Boyce’s Imprint Books (open on Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road since 2006) and on acquiring the keys, Gary immediately changed the name to VIBE. “Vibe, as in the mood or character of a place, situation or piece of music,” he explains. “In the ‘old days,’ if you wanted to know the vibe of a neighbourhood, you’d go to the library. And that’s what I wanted this place to be, a place for the community.”

Reporting & photos by Jan Yumul

A neighbourhood hub is exactly what VIBE has become. There’s a cosy ‘quiet room’ where you can read or listen to music, and Gary says a lot of the Mui Wo locals drop by simply to chat. But there’s more to VIBE’s community vibe than that: Gary, who’s lived in Mui Wo for 11 years, makes a point of supporting local authors, musicians and artists by stocking their creations and running events for them to showcase their work. “We started up thinking we were just going to be a book and music shop,” Gary explains. “But quite quickly, people in the community started coming to us and saying, ‘I’ve just written a book. Can I sell it in your shop as a concession?’ I felt that I needed to be supportive of local creators in the community.” In the days before the pandemic, Gary would help organise book talks and jamming sessions for local residents, and he would film the events. (He says that going live really stepped up VIBE’s Facebook game). “So, you know, the community told me how they wanted me to operate, and I willingly went along with the plan. But then I’ve 16  LIFE ON LANTAU

August / September 2020



1. A Small Band of Men, by Les Bird 2. Midnight in Peking, by Paul French 3. Diary of a Bookseller, by Sean Bythell 4. The Almost True Story of Sandy Primary School, by James Lambert 5. All Hong Kong history books!

1. David Bowie 2. Joe Strummer 3. Morrissey 4. Every artist on 2 Tone Records 5. Paul Weller

further developed it as I’ve gone along. We became, I suppose, a content creator after becoming a shop – that was our add-on.” Needless to say, VIBE enjoys a healthy turnover of locally produced books, goods and records. Outside of that, Gary says, fiction, language books and biographies are the most popular. “We only sell about five vinyl records a week,” he adds. “But that’s enough to keep me happy. It’s my passion.” VIBE’s collection of books (and music) encompasses many different languages, including Chinese, and Gary specialises in books about Hong Kong. “We’re probably at 60-40 in terms of expats coming to the shop – what I didn’t want in setting up VIBE was a gweilo shop,” he says. Looking to the future, should more expats start leaving Mui Wo (and indeed Hong Kong), Gary thinks the void will be filled by people from the mainland and the New Territories. “Of course, it may be that a book/ vinyl/ CD/ DVD shop is part of the old analog world that is dying out,” Gary concludes. “Where that takes me next, I don’t know. What I do know is that this is my passion. I love books. I love music. And I love film. So that was my first gambit. Come back in two years’ time, and I might be selling shoes or even headache pills.”

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2 Mui Wo schools ink

COLLA BOR AT ION for pupils’ greater good

A Reporting by Jan Yumul; photos by Jan Yumul & courtesy of Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery

mid all the disruptions brought about by the pandemic, two Mui Wo schools have taken the first small steps towards a mutually beneficial collaboration. Silvermine Bay School Principal (and owner) Will Tong says talks between the management of his private, international primary school and Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery began a year ago.

Will Tong, owner and Principal of Silvermine Bay School

“We are doing our best to equip our students from ages four to 11 with the growth mindset, character strengths, 21st century skills and knowledge to live a happy and meaningful life in an uncertain world,” Will says. “We believe our collaboration with Ashville will benefit both schools, securing our children in the knowledge that we are living in a bigger learning community that is eager to help and support each other.”

Gareth Johnson, Director of Ashville International Education and Enterprise, agrees, saying, “We recognise this as an opportunity to build closer bonds in the educational community in Mui Wo. We are proud of how Ashville has absorbed the challenge of COVID-19 and so we emerge strongly not only as the local kindergarten and nursery of choice, but also as a school wishing to collaborate and not compete.” There are obvious synergies between the two schools, not least in terms of location. Silvermine Bay School boasts a sprawling, twolevel 10,000 square feet campus on Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road, complete with an independent, extra-curricular activities centre. Meanwhile, Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery (previously Dramatic English International Kindergarten) is based on Sea Crest Terrace in a prime property with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the sea. Both schools place a high value not only on how they are viewed by parents but also by the Mui Wo community as a whole. The real point of their collaboration, however, is to benefit their students. “The collaboration is expected to bolster the students’ early learning stages through some joint activities and enhanced services,” says 18  LIFE ON LANTAU

August / September 2020

Will. “Students who live in South Lantau will benefit from a shared school bus service, and we plan to hold a few joint activities (like farm visits and activity days), where students may make more friends and interact with different age groups.” Vice Principal of Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery Sue Woods says the collaboration is important for her pupils: “Our focus is on reaching out into the community going forward, building ties and making educational links to benefit our students and families, giving them choice and extending social and educational opportunities.” There’s no doubt that the pandemic has provided challenges for both schools, and these challenges are ongoing, since the ‘third wave’ has prompted the Education Bureau to extend the summer break until mid-August at the earliest. But both schools are approaching the ‘new normal’ with confidence. “Firstly, from our earlier experience with the impact of the coronavirus on our school, we have learned a lot about distance learning. Our teachers are prepared to go online again,” says Will. “Secondly, we will continue to communicate with parents and modify our distance learning support.” In readiness for the students’ return to school, Will has hired more cleaners to clean the campus, and he has stocked up on disposable masks for kids who need them. Apart from acquiring an ample supply of hand sanitisers (students will again be urged to wash their hands regularly), Will has also invested in desk dividers to promote social distancing in classrooms. Principal of Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery Sandy Leung says her school is equally well-prepared. “We are very well stocked with PPE, and we have a spotlessly clean environment with automatic taps, hand sanitisers and well-ventilated classrooms,” she says. “Our teachers are well versed in online learning but we really hope to see all our students and families back on campus for the beginning of the new school year.”

Sandy Leung, Principal of Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery

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in Silvermine


ou’ll have heard, however vaguely, that Mui Wo was a centre for silver production in the late 19th century hence the name of its glorious bay, waterfall and ‘cave.’ But the sheer size of the mining operation (and its associated processing plant) may come as some surprise. The main entrance to the mine, now called Silvermine Cave, remains a local attraction. Today, the tunnel extends just 10 metres or so, having been sealed for safety reasons, and it reveals little about the large-scale silver mine, which was developed and owned by Ho A Mei, a local Hong Kong entrepreneur and social activist, and in operation from 1886 to 1896. In addition to the mine, Ho set up a fullscale mineral processing plant on the coast, where the excavated ore (Galena) was crushed and smelted into lead and silver. The Galena was transported to the plant via a 900-metre long aerial ropeway. And Ho’s entrepreneurial vision wasn’t confined to Hong Kong – a lengthy wooden pier provided marine access for boats to bring in mineral ore from a sister mine in the mainland for smelting alongside the Mui Wo Galena.

In a 2018 report for The Industrial History of Hong Kong Group, Tymon Mellor describes the processing facility as state of the art, erected and operated by personnel from the Cornish lead mines using the latest in British processing technology. The plant was equipped with rock crushers, smelting furnaces and a materials laboratory, all powered by steam engines. The facility was housed in a 73-metre long steel structure, clad in galvanised-iron sheeting. The poisonous fumes (sulphur dioxide and vaporised lead) produced during the smelting process were removed, via a large flue, to a chimney built on the hillside some 30 metres above the processing plant. In the late 1880s, at the height of the silver rush, people flocked to Mui Wo to work the mine, and the surrounding area was developed into a village called Pak Ngan Heung, literally translated as ‘Silver Village.’ The going was good for a decade although from day one, the mine produced more (low-priced) lead than (high value) silver. Operations came to an end in the 1890s due to dramatic drops in both the market price for silver and the silver content in the Mui Wo Galena. The population in the area declined after the mine’s closure, but some people stayed on to earn their living as fishermen.

Photos by Duey Tam

These days, with the miners long gone, Silvermine Cave has been taken over by a large colony of indigenous bats – Cynopterus Sphinx Short-nosed Fruit Bats to be precise. They’ve made their home in the dark, disused shafts and tunnels of the old mine, and their stay is secured under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance, since any improvement affecting their habitation must be approved by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The ‘bat cave’ sits just a few steps up the hill from Silvermine Waterfall, which is one of the most easily accessible in Hong Kong. Walking up from Silvermine Bay, it’s an easy 20-minute stroll through sleepy villages and there are no hills to climb.

Silvermine Cave


August / September 2020

Silvermine Waterfall

Be sure to stop at the waterfall on your way down from the cave. It’s at its tumultuous best in the rainy season but there’s enough water to fill the stream and surrounding rockpools year-round.

Mo Tai, the God of War, and Man Tai, the God of Literature

Man Mo Temple, Pak Ngan Heung

MAN and MO of Man Mo Temple The


uilt over 400 years ago in the reign of Shen Zong of the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620), the Man Mo Temple in Pak Ngan Heung is the oldest temple in Mui Wo, and well worth a look. It remains a thriving religious hub for the worship of not one but two deities: Man Tai (Man Cheong), the ‘civil’ God of Literature; and Mo Tai (Kwan Tai), the ‘martial’ God of War. Hence the name, Man Mo.

Photos by Duey Tam

At face value, it’s not easy to see why the civil God of Literature and the martial God of War sit well together. But what we’re looking at here is a totally Taoist harmonising of apparent opposites – between the ‘intelligentsia,’ who dream up a society and the ‘warriors,’ who step up to protect it. Achieving this balance, both within ourselves and in our society, is essential. To this day, and for this reason, a Man Mo Temple holds a critical place in Chinese society, as it represents the traditional, social and religious practices of the community. Needless to say, believers flock to a Man Mo Temple for many different reasons. The two gods were popularly sought out by scholars and students in the Ming and Qing dynasties, who were looking to succeed in their studies or in the civil service and, nowadays, people still believe that Man Tai and Mo Tai can bestow career success on their followers. Working together, the thinker (Man Tai) and the fighter (Mo Tai) can help you get the result you seek. Besides being a place of worship, a Man Mo Temple was traditionally used as a court of sorts – a place where people could calmly settle

their disputes, again guided by the intelligence of Man Tai and the strength of Mo Tai. Individuals and community groups continue to meet at temple to resolve arguments to this day. A renowned warrior before he became a God – a military general, faithful to his warlord master and loyal to his men – Mo Tai is seen as an upholder of the code of brotherhood, honour and righteousness. He is therefore worshiped by the police and Triads alike, as a protector of bonds and a guardian of the loyalty such organisations demand. You’ll see a shrine to Mo Tai in every Hong Kong police station. There are two other important Man Mo Temples in Hong Kong – on Fu Shin Street in Tai Po, and on Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan. The latter, is the largest; built in 1847, it’s a declared monument, listed as a Grade I historic building since 1993. Renovated in 1901 and again in 1960, the Mui Wo Man Wo Temple’s original appearance has been completely preserved, meaning it hasn’t lost an ounce of authenticity. Though tiny and unassuming, it’s clearly well cared for, with a lantern-hung exterior emblazoned with gold lettering and vibrant Chinese artwork. The shadowy room within is saturated with brilliant flashes of red and gold, creating a palpable spiritual atmosphere that is sure to impress even nonbelievers. Large incense coils hang from the ceiling and burn nonstop. The incense carries prayers and wishes to heaven – to Man Tai and Mo Tai.

August / September 2020



Tree planting in the time of a pandemic

K Reporting by Jan Yumul; photos by Terry Chow

eeping the faith in uncertain times, the team at Ark Eden has continued to plant native trees in the Mui Wo hills and build up its permaculture food production system throughout the pandemic. Unable to hold its experiential workshops and courses during lockdown, there’s no denying that the eco-education and permaculture centre has been hit hard by the crisis but, as founder Jenny Quinton says: “There’s protests, there’s pandemics, you know, there could be an alien invasion from outer space, but life goes on in this valley.” Jenny, a former teacher, has been involved in reforesting the hills behind Mui Wo for 20+ years, planting many native trees (100+ different species) with the help of student groups, religious groups and other volunteers. With nearly all of Lantau’s primary forest lost over thousands of years, there’s a lot of work to be done. Clearing has long been an issue, and now there is the additional pressure caused by the demand for new developments and infrastructure projects. Hill fires, largely caused by the grave cleaning associated with the Ching Ming and Chung Yeung festivals, continue to cause damage to the countryside. “I never realised why the hills were bare and then I had an awakening when my house nearly burnt down,” Jenny says. “Unbelievably, this nearly happened four times and I became… a crusader.”


August / September 2020

Ark Eden founder Jenny Quinton

Over the years, Jenny, and others like her, have built-up a genuine eco-awareness across Lantau and beyond. Their work has ensured that hill fires are far less frequent, new trees are sprouting up, and the biodiversity above Mui Wo has been significantly enhanced. “If we didn’t have the government authorities helping, none of this would have happened,” Jenny adds. “Many more systems have been put in place, and the situation is so different now to what it was 20 years ago.” In keeping up with their reforestation efforts, the Ark Eden team were glad to get a little help from Green Dragons HK in late June, shortly before sweeping social distancing measures returned to Hong Kong. The tree-planting event was a first-time collaboration between Ark Eden and the 60-team dragon-boat collective, all of whom are committed to raising eco-awareness, and have taken a pledge to reduce the plastic they use while training and at race events. “Ark Eden is such an amazing venue, so we decided to incorporate it into our green theme,” Green Dragons HK founder Suzanne Younan opens. “The tree-planting event was supposed to be held

at the beginning of the year, to coincide with the start of dragon-boat training and kick-off our 2020 campaign, ‘20 ways to break up with plastic. It doesn’t love you anyway.’ But for obvious reasons, it was postponed twice.” The event finally took place on June 28, three days after Tuen Ng, providing attendees with the chance to commemorate the festival a little differently this year. Some 38 ‘green dragons’ turned up on the day to get their hands in the dirt, learn a little about Lantau’s native trees, and promote ‘paddling without plastic.’ The Filipino Dynamos, the city’s first all-domestic-worker dragon boat team, were particularly well represented, as were Loreley Dragon Boat Team Hong Kong and the Tai Tam Tigers. The aim was to plant 20 trees but given the turnout, the group far exceeded its original target. “There were so many of us, Ark Eden asked if we would help plant more trees, so I think we ended up planting around 50,” says Suzanne.

Green Dragons HK founder Suzanne Younan

“It was a lot of fun. It was a lot harder than I expected. We went quite far up the mountain, almost to the top; we got hot and sweaty but also very happy – everybody enjoyed it,” Suzanne adds. “Doing good for Mother Nature always makes you feel good.” Jenny may have lost count of the number of tree-planting events she’s been involved with, but her commitment is unwavering, and she’s full of praise for Green Dragons HK: “It was a great day. There were a few men in the group but it was mostly a very strong women’s team up that hill. They’re strong, they’re capable. They’ve got their act together. They can dig holes…” The time to plant trees is in the rainy season – traditionally mid-May to the end of September – but there’s plenty of tree maintenance work to get involved with at Ark Eden year-round. “That means taking fertiliser up the hill to fertilise the trees,” Jenny explains. “Nothing’s growing on the hill unless we provide it with a little bit of food. The problem is that because of the years of burning, the soil is terrible; actually, it’s sort of decomposed granite. So, it’s not just about keeping the trees going during the dry season when often it doesn’t rain for weeks and weeks, it’s about feeding them so that they begin to grow.” Jenny’s on a crusade to save Lantau remember, and her love for the island is contagious. She calls it “one of the most beautiful islands in the world,” and encourages people to treasure its natural heritage – and that of Hong Kong as a whole. “The last thing Hong Kong needs is to reclaim its oceans and start building a city of a million people in the sea. It will lose all its resilience,” Jenny concludes. “Right now, Hong Kong is an astonishingly beautiful city with its amazing countryside and surrounding waters, and really the green and the blue is its wealth – its true wealth. We mustn’t let that go no matter what happens.”

Filipino Dynamos’ dragon boaters

August / September 2020



Another must-try chilled dessert – a ‘festive Indian delight’ – that’s currently a big hit in Mui Wo, is the Nariwal Ko Laddoo (HK$55) at Deer Horn Restaurant and Bar (also on Ngan Wan Road). Nepaliborn owner Pushpa Thapa Rai makes these no-bake, refrigerated honey-nut balls herself, and they’re selling like… hot cakes.

Made in Mui Wo:

Cooling desserts to crush the heat

Pushpa roasts and grinds the nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts) used in her Laddoo herself. She then mixes in desiccated coconut and honey to form balls, which she dips into more desiccated coconut (no sugar) and refrigerates overnight. Pushpa’s Laddoo is much less sweet than it would be in Nepal and, for this reason, she serves it with ice cream. “I don’t personally like it too sweet, so I thought incorporating the ice cream would help fill the gap for people who have a sweet tooth,” she says. (And she’s right).


ell-known among foodies for its sensational seafood and dim sum, Mui Wo is also the perfect place to get a dessert fix, with a difference. Follow the locals’ lead, and head to Ngan Wan Road for homemade South East Asian treats.

Reporting by Jan Yumul; photos by Duey Tam

Fans of Halo-Halo may be surprised to learn that their favourite Philippine dessert is readily available (for just HK$30) at Island Toys, the popular village toy shop on Ngan Wan Road. Tagalog for ‘mixed’ or ‘mixture,’ Halo-Halo is a gloopy concoction of crushed ice, evaporated milk and a host of other ingredients – everything from sweetened beans, to sago and coconut strips – all topped with a dollop of ice cream. Girlie, the Filipina owner at Island Toys, makes her own and serves it up in near overflowing beer glasses.

But for some it’s the nutrient packed, nut-laden nature of Pushpa’s Laddoo that appeals. “There are a couple of people in the village with cancer and they order a lot of my Laddoo,” Pushpa says proudly. “The nuts are really nutritious, and they say it gives them a much-needed energy boost.” Pushpa’s Laddoo is also very popular with Lantau hikers. “It’s their energy bar,” she says. “They want it without ice cream.”

Halo-Halo (HK$30) at Island Toys

When it arrives at your table, Halo-Halo is a solid mass but by the time you’re done mixing all the ingredients together, and chipping away at the crushed ice, it transforms into the aforementioned gloop that you’ll be tempted to chug down (hence the beer glasses). To make her Halo-Halo, Girlie starts with jackfruit and/ or sweet potato, which she cooks and leaves to ferment for three days. She then packs the dessert with red beans or monggo (adzuki beans), kaong (palm fruit), toasted almonds (her secret ingredient), milk, crushed ice, and usually some ube (water yam). Sometimes she throws in a bit of leche flan (Filipino caramel pudding) or a handful of sago pearls. And it always comes with that cooling dollop of ice cream on top.


August / September 2020

Nariwal Ko Laddoo (HK$55) at Deer Horn Restaurant and Bar







1/F, 28 Rural Committee Rd, Mui Wo

Silver Centre, Shop E, 10 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Rd, Mui Wo

G/F, 52 Mui Wo Rural Committee Rd, Mui Wo

Resident artist Fatima Morrissey, of Little Egret Studio, has been providing pottery classes (for individuals and groups of all ages) out of her tiny workshop in Mui Wo since 2014. In addition to her classes, Fatima sells the unique ceramics she creates at her studio – the functional and sculptural pieces are an eclectic mix, influenced by Asian and European folk art. Opening hours vary, so call ahead. 6680 6763,,


At VIBE Book and Music Shop, long-term Mui Wo resident Gary Brightman sells new and used books in English, Chinese, French and other languages, as well as vinyl LPs, CDs, DVDs, record turntables, t-shirts and other merchandise. Gary supports local artisans, authors and musicians by stocking their creations and running events for them to showcase their work. VIBE is open seven days a week from noon until 6pm.

9324 3754,,

9088 2370,,,


Silverview Centre, 8 Ngan Kwong Wan Rd, Mui Wo

Silver Centre, Shop B, 10 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Rd, Mui Wo

Pause Studio is a fully equipped Pilates and Movement Studio specialising in Rehab, Spine Health, Core Activation, Posture, Movement, and Pre- and PostNatal. The team provides private and small group classes paying personal attention to clients’ overall health through movement. With its own café nearby, Pause is fast becoming a holistic hub – nutrition and wellness classes are also available. Class times vary, so book ahead.

As Hong Kong’s oldest trail running store, Lantau Base Camp (LBC) supplies everything from road and trail shoes, to mountain bike gear, Garmin dive watches, SUP boards and yoga gear. It also stocks a huge selection of nutrition, and serves cold drinks in its lounge, where you can chat to the Lantau-based staff, who know the trails and are ready to offer their advice and tips. LBC now also offers an excellent bike-repair service for road and mountain bikes. LBC is open from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and from 7am to 7pm, at weekends and public holidays.

9708 0187 (WhatsApp),,

The team at Winky’s Workshop has been teaching dance and drawing to kids and adults in and around Mui Wo since 2011. Art classes include Experimental Drawing, Life Sketching, Acrylic Painting, Kid Player Arts, and Fun Craft; dancing classes include RAD Ballet and CSTD Modern Jazz. Class times vary, so call ahead.

9889 4275,


G/F San Wai Tsuen, Pui O

Dr Queeny and her team care for small animals across South Lantau out of the Community Vet Clinic in Pui O. (The clinic is located opposite San Wai Village Post Office.) Services include health checks, vaccinations, microchip implants, diagnostic lab tests, surgeries and dental care. Dr Queeny also provides house calls. The Community Vet Clinic is open five days a week from 10am to 6pm (closed on Friday and Sunday). 3486 6100,,



NORTHWEST Heading west over the hills from Ngong Ping Road, Jason Pagliari invites you on a hike through thick forest and across a narrow ridgeline to the summit of Elephant Mountain, one of three ‘guardian beasts’ of Tai O


he hike I’m about to take you on is moderately difficult, off the beaten track, and best suited to hikers with a bit of experience. It involves an elevation gain of about 100 metres with a fair amount of up and down. From a bus stop on Ngong Ping Road, you take a trail over the hills towards Tai O, eventually dropping in from a steep mountainside slope on the north side of the village.

Start: Ngong Ping Road Our team of four meets early in the morning, while it’s still relatively cool, and we hop on one of the buses (numbers 2, 21, or 23) headed for Ngong Ping. As we turn off the main road and start to climb towards the Big Buddha, there’s a bus stop (San Hoi Ting) just after a sharp U-turn to the right, where we get off.

Photos by Jason Pagliari

The hike starts in thick forest before following a narrow, bushy ridgeline to reach the summit of Cheung Shan at 449 metres. There are panoramic vistas of the west Lantau mountains and over the South China Sea, plus a terrific view above Tai O at the end. For a while the trail is overgrown and you can’t see your feet, so it’s worth wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes for this one. Don’t forget your sunglasses and hat because there’s no cover for most of the way. There’s a steep descent at the end, but this should be fine for anyone who is reasonably fit. The hike covers 5.5-kilometres and will likely take able hikers two-and-a-half to three hours to complete. 26  LIFE ON LANTAU

August / September 2020

Trail start, near the top of Sham Wat Road

Following my trusted Lantau Island & Neighbouring Islands Hiking Map (Lantau Countryside Series), which accurately shows this trail start, we walk back down the road 100 metres or so until we get to a junction, where we keep going straight. On reaching a fork in the road, we turn left. (The road to the right goes all the way down to Sham Wat village on the north coast. You can drive your car to Sham Wat, where there’s a secluded stretch of rocky beach, plus a few cafés that are frequented by locals for the most part, and by hikers making their way from Tung Chung to Tai O.)

Cheung Shan – Elephant Mountain – backed by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Our trail starts about 50 metres down the road (the left fork), just before it heads downhill towards a monastery. The hardest point of the hike is finding the trail start, you need to scan the foliage on your right for ribbons in the trees. Once you’ve found the ribbons, you follow them through the trees and then uphill through a thick forest.

Giant Golden Orb Weaver spider Looking back at the hills we’ve crossed, with the Big Buddha below Lantau Peak

August / September 2020


WALKABOUT It’s summer, so the person in front carries a stick to sweep away any Golden Orb Weaver spider webs that may be blocking our path. But don’t worry, these (seasonal) spiders, with their yellow backs and long black legs, don’t bite people and they are more prevalent at lower altitudes. What’s more, the organised hiking groups that pass this way fairly regularly keep the trail clear. On reaching an area of landslide that’s been ‘shotcreted’ over, we stop for a rest and take in a great view across a deep valley with the Big Buddha in the distance. Continuing uphill through the forest, we come to a fork close to the top, and keep right. After about 20 minutes, we find ourselves above the tree cover near the top of a hill. Below us on our left, we spot the golden roof of Yin Hing Monastery and, looking across the valley, we see Keung Shan and Ling Wui Shan in the distance, on the other side of Tai O Road. For the next half hour or so, the narrow trail winds its way across an exposed ridge; mostly covered by knee-high bushes and ferns with taller trees in parts, it’s easy enough to follow.

mountains and down to Sham Wat village and bay, with the airport behind. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is just offshore and it disappears into an underwater tunnel not far away to the north west. We congratulate ourselves for taking just over an hour to get to this point. Coming down the other side of Cheung Shan, we’re now in short grassland on a chalky white trail, and we see some evidence of hill fires. When I first did this hike in early 2015, a large part of the hillside from Cheung Shan to Tai O had been ravaged by a recent fire; the outlook was pretty devastating though there were new shoots of grass poking out from the ashes. Due to the resilience of nature (and islanders’ tireless conservation efforts), it’s mostly back to normal now. Dropping in on Tai O From here on, we walk downhill through rolling hills all the way to Tai O, our final destination. If you have time, you can take a short detour trail to a rocky hilltop above the coast. From there, you can hope to spot a pod of Lantau’s famous Chinese White Dolphins, though you’re now right up close to the Hong Kong-ZhuhaiMacau Bridge. Continuing on, we’re suddenly looming 250 metres over Tai O with an amazing view of the entire village and its tidal waterways below us. The descent gets steep and rocky here for about 50 metres, so we take it slowly. Soon, we join the coastal trail to Tung Chung (the Tung O Ancient Trail), passing by the North Boundary Obelisk, built in 1902 by British sailors, and the Yeung Hau Temple, which dates back to 1699 and is still a hub for local fisherfolk.

View over Tai O with Tiger Mountain top right

Cresting Elephant Mountain The ridgeline snakes its way west and descends and ascends three times before climbing upwards to the north. We then make a short scramble to the highest mountaintop in the area, 449-metre Cheung Shan, which translates as Elephant Mountain. This is one of the three ‘guardian beasts’ of Tai O, the other two are Sze Shan (Lion Mountain) close by to the south at 322 metres and Fu Shan (Tiger Mountain), which is just a hill, some 75-metres high, in the northwest behind the Tai O Heritage Hotel. Reaching the summit of Cheung Shan, we take a well-earned pitstop at its trig point to enjoy spectacular views across the west Lantau 28  LIFE ON LANTAU

August / September 2020

Tai O stilt houses backed by Lion Mountain

Following the waterway, with mangroves on our left and the villagers’ stilt houses on our right, we make our way into Tai O, crossing a few bridges to reach the centre of the village. We soak up the unique atmosphere and check out the dried-seafood stalls before jumping on a bus back home.

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course Take a break from the heat (and the booze) with a long, cool glass of something fruity

Pineapple Cooler Photos courtesy of

Serves 6 1 ripe medium pineapple, rind only 2oz caster sugar

Cut the stalky top and base off the pineapple and discard. Stand the pineapple upright on its base and cut away the skin in long strips working your way all around the fruit. Reserve the fruit itself for a dessert. Chop the skin into small pieces about 1-inch square.

1 apple, sliced Put the pineapple skin slices into a bowl, and then pour in 1.8 litres of cold water. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it to sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or until the mixture is bubbly and fermented. Strain it into a jug, add sugar to taste and garnish with thinly sliced apple.


August / September 2020

Homemade Lemonade Serves 8 7 large lemons 5oz granulated sugar 6 mint sprigs

First scrub 6 of the lemons in warm water. Pare the coloured outer zest from three of them, using a potato peeler or zester. Remove any white pith from the strips of zest to prevent the lemonade from tasting bitter. Put the zest in a large bowl and add the squeezed juice of all 6 lemons (don’t strain the juice at this stage). Add the sugar and pour in 1.18 litres of boiling water. Stir well, cover and leave overnight in the fridge. Next day, stir again and add a little more sugar to taste. Strain through a fairly coarse sieve so that some of the lemon remains. Chill thoroughly before serving on ice, either straight or diluted with soda water. Slice the remaining lemon. Add lemon slices and mint sprigs to serve.

August / September 2020


AKASH MOVING Local packing, moving, storage & handyman service • All kinds of transport services • Inbound shipment clearance Having stuff delivered from China? They are not delivering to DB or Lantau? Have it delivered to our office in Kwai Chung & we’ll deliver it to your home

Contact 2421 8088 or visit

GIVING LIFE SHOULDN’T BE SO DEADLY Ramatoulaye, who lives in Burkina Faso, was about to give birth to her fourth child, but the boatman was nowhere to be found. Unable to get to the health centre across the river, she gave birth alone on the river banks. Maternal health is a human right — join Amnesty International to defend human rights for women like Ramatoulaye. Learn more at


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9446 6013 9021 1502 9662 1747 6273 7347 6479 0390 6674 6194 2164 7210

34  LIFE ON LANTAU June / July 2020

MEDICAL Bayside Dental Essential Health Family Clinic Human Health Medical Centre Maternal & Child Health Centre North Lantau Hospital Quality HealthCare Medical Quality HealthCare Physiotherapy Raffles Medical Raffles Medical Emergency Skyline Physiotherapy

2185 6550 2109 9396 2109 2288 3575 8370 3467 7000 2403 6623 2403 6328 2261 2626 2261 0999 2194 4038

REAL ESTATE HomeSolutions

3483 5003

REMOVALS & RELOCATIONS Akash Removals FTC Relocations ReloSmart SwiftRelo

2421 8088 2814 1658 2561 3030 2363 4008

RESIDENTIAL ESTATE CONTACTS Caribbean Coast Club House Caribbean Coast Management Office Coastal Skyline Club House Coastal Skyline Management Office Seaview Crescent Club House Seaview Crescent Management Office Tung Chung Crescent Club House Tung Chung Crescent Management Office

2109 9277 2109 9288 2179 6678 2179 6621 3473 8700 3473 8833 2403 6770 2109 1222

SPORT & RECREATION Aqua Gym Asia Pacific Soccer Schools Canterano Futbol Club Dance for Joy Edge ’n Pointe Dance Centre ESF Sports HK Dragons Kinder Kicks Soccer KipMovin La Cantera Perun Fitness Rugbytots Sparrow Soccer School Hong Kong Tung Chung Rugby Club

2914 0658 2385 9677 5611 2490 9264 8597 6688 2167 2711 1280 2987 4274 2385 9677 6180 3256 2557 8007 6443 6597 5307 6677 6051 8196 6079 0825

USEFUL NUMBERS Alcoholics Anonymous Arrow Accounting Services FTC Apparel Phoenix Wills

9073 6922 6201 9710 2428 2566 3100 0101

VETERINARY & PET SITTING SERVICES Bon’s Mobile Pet Grooming Royal Pets Ltd - Pet Sitting Tung Chung Animal Clinic Tung Chung Vet Centre

9099 9959 6314 9887 2988 1534 2328 7282

ART & CULTURE Flanhardt Galerie und Atelier (FGUA)

2882 3390

EDUCATION Ashville International Kindergarten & Nursery Buddhist Fat Ho College Lantau International Kindergarten Lantau International School Lao Shi Lantau Mandarin lessons Little Lantau Montessori Kindergarten Mindfulness Matters Mui Wo Language Cafe Silvermine Bay School

2109 9886 2985 5365 2984 0302 2980 3676 5197 4647 3689 6709 9048 5425 5511 6107 2984 0006

FOOD, BEVERAGES & RESTAURANTS Bahçe Turkish Restaurant Bathers/ Beach House Cafe Isara Caffe Paradiso China Bear Deer Horn Restaurant & Bar Kebab Korner Lantau Grocer Lantana Italian Bistro Le Jardin de Sophie Loi Chan Frozen Meat Co. Long Island Mucho Gusto Natural Plus Robert’s Market Tai O Solo Café The Gallery The Kitchen The Stoep @ High Tide The Water Buffalo Value Vigilantes Treasure Island Restaurant

2984 0222 2504 4788 2470 1966 2984 0498 2984 9720 3484 3095 6429 3507 2702 0050 5465 5511 2997 9070 2984 8346 2320 2001 6422 5009 2984 2233 9193 2937 9153 7453 2980 2582 5991 6292 2980 2699 2109 3331 6132 9120 5236 7013

HEALTH & BEAUTY Greenstyle Organic and Healthcare Pause by the Banyan - health ∙ wellness Spa Ambiance Spa Puretouch Thai Palin Thai Sa Baai

9802 0553 9708 0187 2984 2488 2984 0088 9062 0148 5228 6552

HOME REPAIRS & DESIGN New Look Design Unitek

9783 5840 9156 0360

HOTELS Silvermine Beach Resort Tai O Heritage Hotel

6810 0111 2985 8383

REAL ESTATE HomeSolutions Findley Leung

3483 5003 2984 8334

RETAIL INSIDE Quay House VIBE Book & Music Shop

2890 8606 2882 8710 2984 9371

SPORT & RECREATION Lantau Base Camp Long Coast Seasports Pause by the River - pilates ∙ yoga ∙ dance Treasure Island Group

5463 6060 2980 3222 9708 0187 2546 3543

TRANSPORT New Lantau Bus Company

2984 9848

USEFUL NUMBERS Alcoholics Anonymous Phoenix Wills

9073 6922 6108 8471


2984 0060



LOCAL NUMBERS COMMUNITY Club Siena DB Recreation Club DB Fire & Ambulance DB Marina Club DB Management

2987 7382 2987 7381 2987 7502 2987 9591 2238 3601

EDUCATION DBIS Kindergarten DBIS Primary School Discovery College Discovery Mind International Play Centre Discovery Mind Kindergarten Discovery Mind Primary School, North Plaza Discovery Montessori Academy, North Plaza Discovery Montessori School, North Plaza Epic Adventurers , North Plaza Eye Level Education Learning Centre, North Plaza Lingostars HK, North Plaza Mandarin for Munchkins, North Plaza Mathemagic – home tutoring Mathnasium, North Plaza SKH Wei Lun Primary School Sunshine House International Preschool Zhi Zhi Chinese

2914 2142 2987 7331 3969 1000 2987 8088 2987 8088 2914 2202 2812 9206 2987 1201 2441 0098 9366 0000 6375 2015 2480 3909 9135 4724 2628 3362 2987 8608 2987 8143 9648 2966

FOOD & RESTAURANTS 22˚ North Coyote Mexican Cantina Epic Foods, North Plaza Gilmore’s by the Golden Pig, North Plaza Hemingway’s McSorley’s Ale House The Pier Bar Uncle Russ, North Plaza

2987 2298 2987 2848 2172 6111 2662 9168 2987 8855 2987 8280 2520 2166 2840 1188

HEALTH & BEAUTY Afflatus Hair Workshop, North Plaza Maximum Care Nailed It!

2987 0283 2987 2060 2987 2266

MEDICAL Bayside Dental Practice, North Plaza DB Medical Centre Health and Care Dental Clinic Island Health Quality Health Physiotherapy

2987 0855 2987 5633 2666 6183 2987 7575 2473 6200

PROPERTY LISTINGS & BOATS Headland Homes Savills Hong Kong

2987 2088 2102 0888 2987 1919

RETAIL Bookazine P-Solution Wing On Star Mart, North Plaza

2987 1373 2987 1777 2987 9268 2366 6534

SPORT & RECREATION DB Pirates Rugby, Netball, Hockey & Dragonboat Greenwich Yoga School, North Plaza HK Dragons Football Club Harry Wright International Island Dance Kapuhala Train-in-Space, North Plaza Yoga Bay, North Plaza Yoga Up, North Plaza

9255 6133 9685 8366 5322 5556 2575 6279 2987 1571 6101 8434 6704 9851 8197 5591

TRANSPORT Passenger Telephone Hotline

2987 0208

USEFUL NUMBERS Alcoholics Anonymous Auberge Discovery Bay Hotel, North Plaza Island Veterinary Services

9073 6922 2295 8288 2987 9003

August / September 2020



NIGHT SHIFT Tai O police station, 1956 In this excerpt from The Tiger Hunters of Tai O by John Saeki, Eurasian police officer Sergeant Simon Lee and his partner PC Jagan Singh discuss a local tiger sighting, while, outside, a suspicious boat silently crosses the water


he moon was out again, casting across the bay. Its pale blue light illuminated a junk. Simon caught a glimpse of people on the vessel, more than usual for that time of night. A Nationalist flag at front. Trouble? He lazily wondered.

He came back to Jagan’s tiger. “So it is true?”

“I know, an Indian.” “Really? Anyway, my dad was armed to the teeth – with a gong and a brush. He’s lucky he survived the watch, though he didn’t survive the camp. They got the tiger in the end. Trevor took me to a temple in Stanley when I was 15, the skin was stretched above the altar. A big beast I can tell you.”

“Well it’s only a rumour. A rumour is only as good as its source, right?”

“Yes I know the story, ask any of your Indian colleagues, we all know the story because we were the big heroes. Not only was one of us killed, but it was an Indian policeman who killed the tiger. With one shot to the brain, as the ravenous beast charged.”

“Who did you hear it from?” “Blind Wang.” “Blind Wang? He’s never seen anything since the Japs gouged his eyes out.”

“So there you go then, you know as well as I do that the last tiger was shot in ’42.”

“Yes, but he’s a reliable witness. He believes that it’s that first one from back in July, returning.”

“Do I have to spell it out? The Stanley tiger was the last one killed. Do you think that stopped other tigers from prowling through Hong Kong again? There’s no reason to think that the last tiger shot here was the last to set foot here.”

“Well the first was only a rumour in any case. So basically, we are piling one speculation on top of another.” “Hold on a minute Simon, what’s the chance that two different tigers have been on Lantau in a year? It must have been the same one. The Beast of Tai O.” Who or what is the Beast of Tai O?

Cover illustration by Darren Hayward

“Or none.” “The law of averages would suggest that at least one of the rumours could have been right.” “You’re clearly insane.” Simon shook his head.

“Anyway, I know for a fact that the last tiger in Hong Kong was killed at Stanley Prison in 1942. My uncle Trevor told me. My dad was one of the poor chaps assigned to guard against it at night, because it had been prowling near the camp bungalows for a few nights. It had killed one of the guards.”


August / September 2020

“You’re confusing me now. I had always assumed that the Stanley tiger was the last of a local population.”

“Don’t be silly, or daft, as your good father used to say to you. Tigers don’t limit themselves to small, insignificant colonial outposts. They roam where they want. I believe the subspecies shot at Stanley was a South China tiger.”

The Tiger Hunters of Tai O (Blacksmith Books, 2018) by John Saeki is available on and at Blacksmith Books


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