Small is beautiful

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 September, 2009, 12:00am

Cheung Chau and Lamma are just two examples of the fascinating outlying islands in Hong Kong waiting to be explored. Peng Chau is another top destination for travellers looking for a unique experience.

Peng Chau is a small, laid-back paradise with few tourists or residents. About a third of the size of neighbouring Cheung Chau, it is impossible to get lost there. Meanwhile, large areas of greenery make it a popular eco-tourism destination. Although Peng Chau is not as busy as most other islands, it still has many interesting attractions, including a small fishing harbour, a 200-year-old Tin Hau Temple, a morning fish market and a cottage industry specialising in hand-painted porcelain.

As soon as you get off the ferry and gaze out to sea, you will feel the stress of work or school evaporate in the sea breeze. Many of the islanders spend their afternoons chatting under the banyan trees in the park close to the pier.

As you walk through the village, look out for the famous local dishes - brown sugar pudding with red bean known as boot jai go and deep fried toast with shrimp.

According to Ah So, celebrity host of the food show So Good, the deep fried toast with shrimp on Peng Chau is unique and has preserved a taste of old Hong Kong that can hardly be found anywhere else in the city. Instead of deep frying the toast with an entire shrimp on top of it - as it is done in cha chaan teng around town - the chef blends freshly-caught shrimps together and makes a shrimp paste with his own secret sauce. The mixture is then spread on the bread and dipped into breadcrumbs before it goes into the fryer. The shrimp toast is cut into small, triangular, bite-sized pieces.

The brown sugar pudding with red beans is steamed. Warm and soft, for some it will bring childhood memories flooding back as they eat it.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island is a beach with the island's famous Tin Hau Temple - popular for photo shoots. Villagers often dry seafood such as squid or fish on the sidewalk there.

Another good spot to take pictures is on top of Finger Hill, the tallest point of the island. You can hike up the stairs to the top in around 15 to 30 minutes, and relax in the shade of a pagoda there.

Peng Chau is a trip to forget about your troubles - and you won't need a map; it is so small, well-signposted and inhabited by such helpful people. Take a random stroll around the island and let it surprise you.

How to get there:

Take the ferry from Central Pier 6 or from Cheung Chau or Mui Wo.