Hong Kong's lesser known island of Cheung Chau

Colourful boats lingering off the coast of Cheung Chau. The island is popular among Hong Kongers as a weekend retreat.
Colourful boats lingering off the coast of Cheung Chau. The island is popular among Hong Kongers as a weekend retreat. PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Fishermen resting in their boats on the still waters near the Cheung Chau ferry pier of the idyllic and laid-back island, about 10km south-west of Hong Kong Island.
Fishermen resting in their boats on the still waters near the Cheung Chau ferry pier of the idyllic and laid-back island, about 10km south-west of Hong Kong Island. PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Taking an afternoon dip at Cheung Chau Tung Wan Beach.
Taking an afternoon dip at Cheung Chau Tung Wan Beach. PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Off the charming island of Hong Kong lies an even more charming one. Cheung Chau is a small, long-ish island of just 2.45 sq km - thus its name "Long Island". It is most famous for its annual Bun Festival in May, which features sinewy competitors shimmying up "bun towers" to see who can grab the most number of buns. Locals, however, bemoan that what started as a religious festival is now commercialised for tourists.

But all year round, it is an idyllic place with a laid-back vibe, where motorised vehicles are banned and the local population of about 20,000 go about their day drying seafood in the sun and tending to their shops. The small businesses include shops selling sticks of fishballs and old-school hair parlours.

Hong Kongers wanting a quick getaway from city life also visit the island for its beaches, where most notably the city's first and only Olympic gold medallist - windsurfer Lee Lai Shan - grew up.

It's not all rosy though. The island has a macabre history as a place where people used to go to commit suicide.

PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS BY KUA CHEE SIONG