Wondering where to live in Hong Kong? It’s always good to talk to the neighbours! In our regular Street Talk feature, we get the inside scoop from residents of different areas. Here, we chat to CARMEL DE BEDIN about living in Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island in Hong Kong.
Where do you live? Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island.
How long have you been living on Lamma Island? I moved to Lamma back in February 2010.
Why Lamma? When I moved here, I was flying the nest after university, so I can’t deny there was a financial influence in my choosing island life. However, having outdoor space on your doorstep is such a rarity in Hong Kong, let alone being surrounded by jungle, hiking trails and beaches, just 30 minutes from Central. Those aspects definitely influenced my decision to stay.
What transport is available in your suburb? The beauty of living on Lamma Island is that there is such limited traffic! Your feet, scooter or bicycle are the only on-island transport.
When you walk out of your house, what’s the first thing you see? Banana trees.
What’s the closest store to your front door? Our neighbourhood store and laundry run by village heroes, Queenie, Terence and Zinka. They’ve done an amazing job at keeping a seriously diverse neighbourhood fed, watered and happy, way up a huge hill away from Main Street.
What’s the unofficial uniform of your suburb? Sundress/boardies and flip-flops.
If a celebrity moves in, who would it likely be? Maggie Q. Though we’d settle for Ryan Reynolds in a pinch!
Where do you go when you’re in need of a dose of culture? To check out the Lamma Art Collective or the walls of the Banyan Bay Café. Whether it’s an art exhibition, a writers’ event or a festive market, the lovely teams almost always have something up their sleeve. The Lamma Fun Day charity event is an annual date to keep clear on the calendar too.
What’s a mandatory stop for taking out of town guests? A sunset cocktail (or two) along the waterfront followed by a seafood dinner.
Is there a common myth about your area? That all of us expats here are crazy hippies. Lamma has changed over the past decade; although there is still a great deal of character – and characters – you’re far more likely to smell fresh sourdough on the breeze than a funny “cigarette” these days!
What’s most likely to wake you up at night? When one of the resident wild boar families have knocked over the bins in search of their dinner.
What does a massive late-night rager in your suburb involve? (Losing) a game of pool or darts against the local fishermen.
What’s your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joint? Ohh, that’s a tough one! If I had to pick, for me it would have to be Dale Candela Tapas Bar or Jaybird.
Where’s the best local food in your area? The Man Fung has always been a winner in my book. Saying that, I’m very excited to try the new Sau Kee (Andy’s) seafood down towards the beach.
What’s the strangest thing you’ll ever see in your neighbourhood? Probably my favourite Lamma couple: an elderly gent often out for dim sum or a stroll wearing a straw hat topped with a beautiful, massive iguana. Or the time my husband relocated a python from our neighbour’s garden to the safety of the jungle in his underwear…!
What are the best bargains in the neighbourhood? There are so many knickknack shops with little treats to be found; particularly delicious bargains can be found at Golden Blue. Still, nothing will ever beat the cheeky Standard Chartered $20 Tuesday drinks nights at the Island Bar (RIP!).
What’s the guiltiest local pleasure? Eggplant hotpot or any of the sweet and sour dishes from the seafood restaurants… just heavenly.
What’s one thing you’d never change? Although it has become more gentrified, Lamma’s inherent “Lamma-ness” is alive and well. There are still kids and dogs running amok all over the place, and artists painting, creating and photographing their days away.
If the city gave you HK$5M to soup up your area, what would you do? I suppose “souping up” kind of goes against that “Lamma-ness”…that being said, if HK$5M would get me Lamma’s version of the Mid-Levels escalator to take my groceries up the massive hill to my home, I’d be all for it!
Lamma: 8 Fast Facts
- Hong Kong’s third largest island
- Originally called Pok Liu Chau (“place for docking/parking”)
- The name Lamma came from someone misreading the Portuguese word for muddy land (“lama”) on a map
- Biggest village: Yung Shue Wan (population: approximately 6,000)
- Highest point: Mount Stenhouse (353 metres)
- A key event on Lamma is the Tin Hau Festival (around April/May), celebrated by local fishermen
- Actor Chow Yun-fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) was born on Lamma
- The tiny Romer’s tree frog, which is endemic to Hong Kong, was first discovered in a cave on Lamma in 1953 (but then not found again until 1984, in a different cave on the island)
Do you love your neighbourhood? Share it with others – just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Street Talk” in the subject line. Include your name and street, and we’ll be in touch.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.