It smelled of sea, it smelled of fresh fish, it smelled of happy dogs and even happier people. The moment I got off the bus at Sai Kung, I was suddenly transported from the busy city life of Hong Kong, to a place where life seemed easy and happy. At once, I fell in love with the vibe of Sai Kung.
As mentioned in my last article about Hong Kong’s hidden gems, located in the new territories, Sai Kung can easily be termed as the locals’ secret of Hong Kong. Not too many tourists or even travellers venture all the way here but the ones who do, discover a completely different side of Hong Kong.
The roads are not sloping upwards anymore, the windows of the houses are bigger than a small hole and instead of shooting to the sky, the buildings are much more down to the earth.
People are not rushing off past one another, instead, they are merrily strolling by the wonderful sea side. Families are busy playing with their pets or their children and a bunch of school kids are presenting a cute little dance performance.
What’s more, at every step, a new aroma entices your senses. At first, it’s the fresh fish! I quickly walk over to the railing beside ferry pier to discover its source and find something unique. They are selling fish directly from their boats! Oh yes, the boat is floating in the water along with the fisherman while the locals gather near the railing. Due to the major height difference, the fisherman uses a long stick attached to a curved net to deliver the fish and collect the cash.
Hong Kong may have turned into Asia’s financial centre but it seems not much has changed in Sai Kung.
Sai Kung- A perfect mix of East and the West
As I quickly called my friends to show them this arrangement, another smell drew me towards the market. Sea-food perhaps? I was not wrong. As we walked towards the town centre, a number of sea-food restaurants by the sea-side greeted us. We stared at the huge crabs inside the transparent vessels and then made our way further inside.
Historically a fishing village, Sai Kung has seen major development projects and a wave of expats flowing in over the years. Everyone feels at home here and all are welcome, no matter which race, country or religion you belong to.
Due to this unique blend of expats and locals, the Sai kung town centre consists of a number of local and western food joints. One minute we were sorting out dimsum menus and the next minute we were walking past hipster cafes serving cuisines from around the world. Whether you want a strong cup of coffee or a slice of pizza or some laksa, Sai kung has it all! Everything seemed perfectly at balance here and everyone seemed to enjoy life every second!
The beaches, islands and parks of Sai Kung
The charm of Sai Kung is not only in its perfect blend of culture and a relaxed vibe. Sai kung easily boasts many geographical miracles and nature’s gifts.
From gigantic hexagonal rock columns in the East Dam to Hong Kong’s best beach “Tai Long Wan”, Sai Kung has it all. The ferries from the pier take you to a number of islands, many of which are untouched and geographically diverse.
The boat ride itself is a refreshing experience as the fresh wind blows over the sea and all the way through your hair. Innumerable hills and small islands pass you on both sides as the boat speeds through the emerald green water.
On my second trip to Sai Kung, my mother and I had visited Hap Bun Bay. Upon reaching, we surely felt nothing less than Robinson Crusoe but that story will be for another time.
The point is, whether you want breath-taking hikes (Maclehose trail) or just empty beaches (Tai Long Wan, Hap Bun Bay) or unique rock structures (Sharp island, East Dam tour at Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark) Sai Kung will not disappoint.
The Unforgettable Sri Lankan dinner
What’s the one thing that’s on your mind after you finish a hike or a trail? Food, of course, right? After exploring islands and parks, we were starving but we weren’t ready to just jump at the first food we found. Instead, we ventured out to explore once more.
As a person, I am always keen to try new cuisines and naturally, I have tasted most of the popular cuisines around Asia at least. This was until I found the Sri Lankan restaurant: “AJ’s Sri Lankan Cuisine” (no I don’t have a tie-up with this place!).
A cozy ambience greeted us and the aroma of Sri Lankan curry reminded us we were indeed starving! We delved into the menu and ordered a bunch of curries, biriyani, chicken and what not and every item was mouth-watering.
We grudgingly lifted our bodies after a while and took a stroll along the sea-side, just like the locals.
A promise to return
The night was approaching soon and we were far from home. We were happy and a part of me just wanted to remain there. The happiness of Sai Kung was indeed contagious. I promised myself that I would return soon and in less than a month, I was back here, exploring more islands.
After all, I had found paradise in Hong Kong and I was not willing to let go of it so easily. Right now, sitting on a bed and staring out of a window in Singapore, if there is one thing my heart misses about Hong Kong, its Sai Kung and its joyous vibe.
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