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16 days, 107 uninhabited islands: a paddle around Hong Kong

Simon Wan tells Mary Hui about solo camping trip he' s about to undertake in a HK$1,200 kayak to parts of the city most never see

In 2003, photographer Simon Wan Chi-chung scaled Hong Kong's 134 peaks in an ambitious 19-day trek, documenting the city from above. A decade later, he did it again, publishing a book about his adventure. On that trip, however, he realised there was a big part of Hong Kong he had yet to explore: the sea.

And so from September 22, Wan will spend 16 days kayaking to 107 uninhabited islands off the coasts of Hong Kong, taking a photo at each. His journey will begin at Tai Mei Tuk, snake around the Sai Kung peninsula, down the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, wind around Lantau and end at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Wan's first kayaking expedition - undertaken in a clunky 1,000 yuan (HK$1,245) kayak - will see him camping on the islands, sleeping on a roll-up mat under a tarpaulin. But he won't be completely cut off from civilisation. He will make detours to restock supplies along the way, and on the sixth day, which coincides with the Mid-Autumn Festival, he will celebrate with family and friends in Sai Kung.

Wan invites fellow kayakers to join him along the way, and yacht owners to escort him through busy straits. "They could throw me a Coke, or offer me a place to shower and sleep for the night," he says.

Tai Mei Tuk in Sai Kung is the starting point for Simon Wan's kayaking trip.

One of the smallest islands he will visit is Bun Sha Pui (island No5), located in the Tolo Channel in the northeastern New Territories. With an area of only two square metres during high tide, it's smaller than his 500 sq ft studio, says Wan.

Other islands on the itinerary boast interesting histories: Basalt Island (No53), just south of the High Island Reservoir, off Sai Kung, was the site of the 1948 plane crash that killed Quentin Roosevelt, grandson of former United States president Theodore Roosevelt.

To finance the project, Wan is selling pictures of the islands: single-edition prints of each will cost HK$800. To order a photo, email [email protected].
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Island hopping