Sunday, May 13, 2012

Golden Week Day 6: Cheung Chau

By Day 6, I was ready to get a break from all of this urban stuff and get out of the city a little.  So I went to Cheung Chau, a little island that’s southwest of Hong Kong Island.  Cheung Chau is Cantonese for "no air conditioning here."  Actually it's 長洲, which literally means "long island" -- it would be chōshū in Japanese.  It’s a short ferry ride from Central.
Central as seen from the ferry.

They really love the bamboo scaffoldings.

One thing that was a real contrast to Hong Kong was the little neighborhood shrines that were scattered all over the place – it actually reminded me a little more of Japan in that way.  Maybe they do have those in Hong Kong, just not in the neighborhoods that I’d been in.
I went to the Pak Tai temple; she is apparently Cheung Chau’s patron deity and saved the island from plague.

One thing that is apparently a big deal on Cheung Chau is these steamed buns with sweet bean paste inside.  They’re delicious.  Unfortunately, I’d missed the annual bun festival by a couple of days – from what I heard it involves building big towers of buns which people then climb in a race.  At the various tourist shops you can also buy plush buns to strap onto your cell phone.  They’re about the same size as the real ones; significantly larger than a typical cell phone.

They also have some pretty nice beaches.  The people in this picture looked like they were filming an interview; the guy on the steps was apparently looking and sounding really cool, while the others held up reflective panels (Quinn probably knows the technical term for these) to ensure that he was perfectly lit.

I hiked up a big mountain thing in the middle of the island that had some nice views of the ocean.

Along the harbor there’s a strip of restaurants that sell really awesome seafood; I had the steamed fish for lunch.  Good thing I don’t mind making eye contact with my food.

After lunch it was back to the beach, where I swam in the ocean and hung around for a few hours.  I got a minor sunburn.  It was a really nice beach for swimming – small waves, no rocks, and a big net to keep the sharks out.

After a hard day’s work, I headed back toward the seafood area.  As I was looking at different places, it suddenly started pouring rain, so I decided that the place I was standing directly in front of had a sturdy-looking awning and was an excellent choice.  I ordered the fried squid, and sat down to discover that there were only two other people in the entire place.  I was feeling oddly extroverted, so I decided to see whether they spoke English.  It turns out that they did and were more than eager to practice on me.  They introduced themselves as Vivienne and Candy and enjoyed coaching me on correct Cantonese eating protocol.  Apparently one never eats from plates; the plates are only there to keep the bowls (which you eat from) off the table.  Also, your bowl, glass, and chopsticks are to be washed with the tea, which then gets emptied into a big plastic bucket thing.

They insisted I sit down for this picture so that I wouldn’t be too tall.  I didn’t realize how sunburned I was until my camera was handed back to me.  It actually makes me look sort of scary; I’m surprised they talked to me at all.  I don't think that Vivienne (on the right) intended to give me bunny ears with her peace sign, but that's sort of how it turned out.

After dinner, it rained some more so we all caught the ferry back to Hong Kong; they went to Sheung Wan and I went back to Causeway Bay. 

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