Birds chirping. Fresh air. Low-rise buildings. Stretches of golden beaches. No cars. Just bicycles gliding along. Everything seems to be in slow motion.
A half an hour ferry ride transports us from the hustle and bustle of Central Pier 4 to Yung Shue Wan village in Lamma Island. It is slightly past 16:00, and the aim is to reach Sok Kwu Wan village before it gets dark on this foggy day. The inviting carrot? Fresh delicious seafood, but more on that later.
First stop is Yung Shue Wan's main street. The large population of expatriates (and their dogs) is immediately noted, presumably drawn to Lamma Island's laid back atmosphere. Small shops are dotted along the street. Quirky restaurants, craft shops and old ladies selling vegetables. The most popular products seem to be salted fish and shrimp paste in a jar. Tempting, but a brief what-are-you-going-to-to-with-it conversation with myself refrains me from buying. The Engineer and April buy some drinks for the journey ahead.
Somewhere along the trail is Grandma's dou fu fah or sweet beancurd. A popular Chinese desserts, Grandma's version is soft, silky and enjoyed with a thick ginger sauce. As the journey continues, you will find Daughter-in-law's version too. Relationship with Grandma is unknown though.
Then there's Hung Sing Yeh beach in Sham Wan. Apparently this is the only place in Hong Kong where turtles regularly lay eggs, but none is sighted. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a turtle. Or a turtle egg for that matter. But anyway, the beach looks deserted on a Monday afternoon, except for a young couple chatting away their worries. A romantic picture, if you could ignore the sight of Lamma's Power Station in the background.
Our hungry stomachs and tired feet arrive at the fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan close to two hours later. The street is packed with seafood restaurants. Tanks and boxes of fresh fish and crustaceans are on display. We are then joined by Mrs April who just gets off work. After a short conference, we settle on Rainbow Restaurant.
As with many Chinese restaurants, the menu is extensive. We select a few dishes on the recommendation of the friendly waiter. No trip to Hong Kong is complete without having typhoon shelter-style crab. This dish is said to be invented in the 1990s by fishermen living in typhoon shelters. Crunchy deep-fried garlic, dried chilies and spring onion are good companions to the deep-fried crab, and a bowl of steamed rice.
The extra large fresh squillas (a.k.a. "peeing" prawns in Cantonese) are simply steamed to draw out their natural sweet flavours. Salt and pepper squid is well-executed. Bamboo clams are stir-fried with black bean sauce. I wish there is more of it. Rainbow's (award-winning) sweet and sour pork is probably our least favourite of the scrumptious lot.
As the night ages, it's time to return to the fast(er) paces of Hong Kong. April's suggestion of desserts is greeted with a resounding yes as we hop onto the free shuttle boat provided by the restaurant.