by Joanne
just experience | just sights | just blah | just write
all photos, travelogues and journals are made available for non-commercial use only. © 2000 JSL
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HONG KONG - PEARL OF THE ORIENT
Lamma Island | Lantau Island | New Territories | Sai Kung Peninsula | Victoria Harbor | Cheung Chau Island
Map of Hong Kong

 

HONG KONG - LANTAU ISLAND

We visited the Lantau Island several times, mainly to visit friends who made that island their home. Commuting daily to and from the Lantau Island isn't really fun for city dwellers who needs to work. There again, I am assured of the serenity that the place has to offer. How best can it be when one starts a quiet day ride into the city by ferry and a tranquil evening back home chasing the sun down during dawn?

Besides, home of the Po Lin Monastery, the Lantau Island uplands are as wild as ever. Nearby a craggy peak rears up in striking grandeur and to the south summits stretch out of sight. But man has transformed the lowlands. Shek Pik valley is now a reservoir, and across the island Tung Chung is now a satellite city. Lying just offshore is Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.

Lantau — properly, Tai Yu Shan or "Big Island Mountain" — was known long before Hong Kong itself. This was partly due to its size and position: dominating, majestic, it marked the eastern limits of the Pearl River estuary. But it was not until the 1960s, with the building of Shek Pik Reservoir, that Lantau entered Hong Kong's life. Beyond its main communities the island today remains sparsely populated, indeed mostly rugged and uninhabited. But with numerous developments envisaged, its natural setting is now severely threatened.

Much of the island lies over 400 metres, and it has Hong Kong's second and third highest peaks — Lantau Peak (934 metres) and Sunset Peak (869 metres). From its mountain spine plunging slopes and ravines descend to lush coastal valleys. Around the edge there are communities and resorts, but overall nature still rules. The south-facing coast has headlands, coves and Hong Kong's longest beach. The north-facing coast has estuarine environments, brackish streams and mangrove mudflats.

Lantau is of great scenic, recreational and ecological value. Early this century, G R Sayer wrote of Lantau's "mysterious peaks" and its "unaffected beauty which provided the perfect foil to Victoria's more cultured charms". Despite Hong Kong International Airport and its infrastructure, and despite the resorts that line some of the south-facing coast, Sayer's comment still holds true.