Cheung Chau

Not to be confused with Changzhou Island, an island in Guangzhou, China.
The village of Cheung Chau, viewed from the north. The bay of Tung Wan is on the left and Cheung Chau Typhoon Shelter is on the right.

Cheung Chau (Chinese: 長洲, lit. "Long Island") is a small island 10 km southwest of Hong Kong Island, is nicknamed as the 'dumbbell island' for its shape. It has been inhabited for longer than most other places in the territory of Hong Kong, with a population of about 23,000 up to 2006. Administratively, it is part of the Islands District.

Contents

Geography

Location of Cheung Chau within Hong Kong

Geographically the island is formed from two mostly granite masses joined by what was presumably once a tombolo, a kind of sandbar. With an area of 2.45 km²,[1] the island is therefore "long", hence the name as translated from Cantonese is Long Island. Thus, it is redundant to say "Cheung Chau Island". The island is dumbbell-shaped, with hills at the northern and southern ends and the settlements concentrated in between.

Economy

A street on Cheung Chau

The central part of the island is well developed with shops and houses. The laneways are so narrow that normal motor traffic is impossible. Instead, there are small motorized trucks officially termed "Village vehicles". For example, there are small specially designed mini-fire engines, ambulances and police cars. Residential areas also exist on the hills of the north and south.

Traditionally the island was a fishing village and there are still fishing fleets working from the harbour. However in recent years the island has become a major tourist attraction, offering a mixture of sandy swimming beaches, seafood cafes, and traditional Chinese culture.

History

Under the terms of the 1898 Second Convention of Peking, the New Territories and 200 smaller islands including Cheung Chau were leased to the United Kingdom for 99 years. At that time, Cheung Chau was mainly a fishing village; it had more residents living on junks than on land. Cheung Chau had already been settled by people from other places in Southern China; for example, Hoklo, they are mainly fishing people; Hakka people; Chiu Chau; and Yue Ca. The island slowly evolved into a commercial hub with merchants selling supplies to the local fishing people, boat repair and fishing gear as well as the place to do business for fishing people and small farmers of other nearby islands like Lantau Island.

From 2000, a spate of suicide cases (most of them by "burning charcoal") took place inside rental holiday homes on the island. Hong Kong Chinese-language newspapers soon dubbed the island "Death Island" and stories concerning apparitions appeared in the wake of news about the succeeding suicides. In 2005 a local councillor Lam Kit-sing proposed a "suicide theme-park" to be built in order to capitalise on the island's now macabre reputation. Those plans were quickly ridiculed and subsequently rejected. Soon after, the choice of Cheung Chau for would-be suicides tailed off.

Sights

Pak Tai Temple
Rock Carving on Cheung Chau.

Temples

  • Pak Tai Temple - one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong. The temple was built in 1783. It was demolished and completely rebuilt in 1989. In front of the temple, there are 4 pairs of guarding lions. Before the altar are statues of two generals, Thousand Miles Eye and Favourable Wind Ear, who together are traditionally said to be able to hear and see anything
  • Four temples dedicated to Tin Hau, including the Pak She Tin Hau Temple
  • Kwan Kung Chung Yi Ting, a traditional temple built in 1973, dedicated to the god of justice Kwan Tai

Others

  • A cave, alleged to be the hiding place of Cheung Po Tsai, a 19th century pirate
  • Rock carving located near Tung Wan Beach were reported by geologists in 1970, and are declared monuments of Hong Kong.[2][3] This 3000-year-old rock carving is located on the east of the island, immediately below the Warwick Hotel. It consists of two groups of similar carved lines surrounding small depressions.
  • Tung Wan and Kwun Yam Wan beaches

Bun Festival

Temporary altar built during the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.

The annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a festival which includes a parade of floats, most famously including young children dressed as famous characters doing impossible balancing acts.[4] It last seven days and attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the island.

Notable people

  • Lee Lai Shan, a windsurfer, won Hong Kong's first Olympic gold medal in 1996. That Olympic gold was also Hong Kong's last Olympic medal since in 1997 Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and now competes in the Olympics as Hong Kong, China.

Education

There are four primary schools and two secondary schools in Cheung Chau, including C.C.C. Cheung Chau Church Kam Kong Primary School, Cheung Chau Fisheries Joint Association Public School, Cheung Chau Sacred Heart School, Kwok Man School, Buddhist Wai Yan Memorial College and Cheung Chau Government Secondary School.

Transportation

A First Ferry ferry at Cheung Chau Ferry Pier, within Cheung Chau typhoon shelter.

First Ferry operates ferries service between Central pier and Cheung Chau. The ferries run approximately every 30 minutes depending upon time of day. Schedules on Sundays and public holidays differ from weekdays. The trip of about 20 kilometers takes 55 minutes or 35 minutes for ordinary ferries and high speed ferries respectively. Due to inaccessibility to cars and other vehicles, most residents use bicycles for personal transportation, and a number of bicycle rental shops near the ferry pier rent bicycles to tourists.

See also

References

External links

Coordinates: 22°12′38″N 114°1′44″E / 22.21056°N 114.02889°E / 22.21056; 114.02889


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