If you haven’t done an island day trip to Po Toi, it’s worth a look – particularly if you enjoy a coastal hike taking in some quirky geological features and windswept oceanic views.
Po Toi is known as the “South Pole of Hong Kong”. Admittedly, we’ve never heard this phrase mentioned in a conversation, but it’s certainly true that Po Toi is the southernmost of Hong Kong’s 260-something islands.
It was once home to a community of around 1,000 people, most of them involved in farming and harvesting seaweed. There are still a few families left – and you can still find dried seaweed on the menus of the island’s restaurants (try Ming Kee Seafood) – but the younger generations have all moved to the city, and many of the village buildings are in ruins.
Speaking of ruins, there’s a famous abandoned house on Po Toi known as “Mo’s Old House”. It was built in the 1930s but nobody has lived in it for decades. Word is that you can visit the ruins to take some atmospheric Insta shots (and to see if the place lives up to its reputation for being haunted), though we’ve also heard a few reports that it is no longer accessible.
If you can’t find Mo’s, you will at least come across many of the island’s renowned rock formations, which are named for objects they resemble. They include “Tortoise Climbing up a Mountain”, “Buddha Hand Rock”, “Coffin Rock” and “The Supine Monk”. You’ll also find ancient rock carvings on Po Toi, dating back as long as 3,000 years to the Bronze Age. They were discovered in the 1960s.
John Le Carre’s 1977 spy novel The Honourable Schoolboy has scenes set on Po Toi, and it discusses not only the seaweed farmers (it says there are 108 of them left at the time), but also the famous rocks and the island’s southern location. Getting there: A kaito (small ferry) leaves from Aberdeen (one hour) and Stanley (30 minutes) on different days of the week.
A kaito (small ferry) leaves from Aberdeen (one hour) and Stanley (30 minutes) on different days of the week.
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This article first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.