It's incredible that only a few kilometres from the hustle of Hong Kong Island there is a place inhabited by people who have no official electricity and no running water supply. This is Po Toi – a serene and scenic island that lies to the southeast of Hong Kong. It used to be home to over a thousand people, although the population has dropped to under 200 in recent times, resulting in several streets of eerie, abandoned village houses.
Po Toi is the biggest of the Po Toi islands group and is a relatively sizeable 3.7sq km, making it a good spot for a day of walking. There's one main path on the island, the Po Toi Country Trail, which loops over the south of the island in a figure-of-eight.
The coastal section of the walk is shorter and easier, and can be completed in well under an hour. This loop takes in Po Toi's photogenic lighthouse as well as some dramatic and unusual rock formations – let your imagination fly as you spot the famous Turtle Climbing up the Mountain, Monk Rock and Palm Cliff, among others. You can also take a short detour down a cliff and come face to face with two large Bronze Age carvings – now declared monuments.
The other half of the path takes you up the hill to a pagoda at Ngau Wu Teng, with rewarding views. This portion of the walk is around 3km, with some steep and occasionally overgrown sections. Back down near the village, try the 15-minute signposted detour up to Mo's Old House – the abandoned residence is reputedly haunted, thanks somewhat to the coffin-shaped rock that stands behind it.
Finish up your day at the small village down in Tai Wan – the whole village is powered by a noisy, old-school electrical generator, which you can go and check out for yourself. Ming Kee seafood restaurant is highly regarded for its black pepper squid. You can also wander up to the Tin Hau temple – scenically perched on a rock to the far left of the village, it gives you really great views over the island and the surrounding ocean.
One thing not to miss:
The rocks! Coffins, turtles, monks, palms and more – let your imagination go wild.
How to get there:
A public ferry runs from Stanley and Aberdeen piers on weekends, and from Aberdeen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The ferry from Stanley takes 30 minutes, and around an hour from Aberdeen. It costs $40 for a return trip. Alternatively, hire a private boat or junk to Po Toi. See bit.ly/PoToiFerry for the full schedule. See bit.ly/PoToiIsland for more information.
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