Mui Wo: an island getaway in Hong Kong
By Janice Au
That was my last week in Hong Kong; I decided to do something different. Rather than climbing up to the Big Buddha, exploring the Stanley market or indulging myself in the grand shopping malls, I escaped to Mui Wo, a little town on Lantau Island.
The ferry ride to Mui Wo is just as relaxing as the island itself. Unlike most other facilities in Hong Kong, there was no air-conditioning on the ferry. The gentle breeze from the sea just made the journey all the more comforting. The town has been a weekend getaway for locals who come cycling, hiking, swimming or just chilling out. There is no stunning skyscraper to admire, just some quiet rural villages and a nice beach – perfect for an escape from the city life.
Silvermine Beach is perhaps the most popular place to see in Mui Wo. As its name suggests, the area was a silver mine where many of the inhabitants in the 19th century worked for decades. Remnants of the mine can still be seen, but of course, the Bay has become a swimming beach. Since it was a weekday, the beach was pleasantly quiet and spotless. Given the small size of Hong Kong and its huge population, this pleasure of lying on a quiet beach is a luxury. Looking at the pedestrians and bicycles passing by, I couldn’t really believe the neon lights and packed shopping districts were just 45 minutes away.
As I walked along the beach, I saw these villagers bending down by the water. ‘What are they doing there?’ Out of curiosity I walked closer. They were clam digging! It’s a shame but that was the first time I saw it. Overwhelmed by excitement, I walked even closer. Apart from the villagers, apparently there were some others from the city. Later, I learnt that clam digging is a favourite pastime in Mui Wo. Nowadays, some village restaurants by the beach rent out clam digging tools to visitors and even cook their catch for them. If you want a nice meal of clams, you need some hard work!
Food is never the reason to visit Mui Wo, but like other islands in Hong Kong, it is known for its seafood. There were one or two Turkish and Indian restaurants, but the more local ones should be the Dai Pai Dongs. It is a kind of ‘must-try’ Hong Kong style restaurant that was once very popular, but is becoming very scarce in Hong Kong nowadays. Meals are usually cheaper than regular restaurants, but the food taste just as nice!
That’s perhaps the best way to close a day in Mui Wo, sitting in a local style seafood restaurant, looking out on the beach, thinking how heavenly it is to get away from the crowded city.