The smallest of the inhabited outlying islands at under 1 km2 Peng Chau packs a remarkably large number of interesting sights. The island used to be one of Hong Kong’s major industrial basis, however nowadays no such activity is left as all factories have moved to the mainland.
1. Walk along the seashore, watching all the fishing boats and other vessels moored in the typhoon shelter. Near the end of the road you can find the remains of the Shing Lee Lime kiln factory.
Lime is believed to have been produced on Peng Chau since the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Reflecting the scale of the industry in the 19th century, the Sing Lei Hap Gei Lime Kiln Factory consisted of two buildings and there was a total of 11 kilns on the island.
Lime was produced by burning oyster shells, clam shells and coral, and was widely used in construction, paper-making, dyes and in ship maintenance. The industry went into decline when modern construction materials began to appear in Hong Kong in the 1950s, and the factories closed soon after.
2. Finger Hill, at just 95m the tallest point of the island.
3. Yuen Tong Temple is a small Buddhist temple, constructed in 1962 by the kind cloud master, Master Wu, who was reborn in paradise in 1986. Master Wu asked Mr. Choi Yi Gong to manage the temple and continue spreading the wisdom of the Master.
The small temple consecrates the various Buddha Bodhisattva. Inside the temple one can find the past, the future and the present Buddha, pharmacist Buddha, the goddess of mercy, the Manjusri Bodhisattva, the Pu virtuous Bodhisattva and the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.
Across the road is the Temple of Morality. This temple consecrates the Taoist trinity and other Gods. It is a general temple, used for teaching taoism.
4. Here you can find the former Peng Chau movie theatre, closed in the 1970s with the disappearance of the factories, and a great loss of population on the island.
A little further down the road is the former Chi Yan school, now closed due to lack of students.
5. Overlooking Tung Wan, this large temple dedicated to Lung Mo has a really nice location. The temple was built in the 1970s.
Lung Mo (lit. Dragon Mother) is one of the sea goddesses, worshipped in Taoism for over 2,000 years. Inside the temple is a Dragon bed, which when gently touched gives good fortune and safety, and makes sure that newborn babies will grow big and strong.
6. A nicely hidden and very small temple dedicated to Hung Shing, who is credited with advancing knowledge astronomy and navigation. This deity is worshipped by fishermen and other seafaring people.
7. The concreted path ends at the end of the beach, a dirt trail continues, passing by small farms and fruit bearing trees.
At the very end of the land is a small island connected to the main island by a tombolo. Unless the tide is very high you can cross this tombolo and visit the Fisherman’s Rock. The views from this point are great, on a clear day you can easily see Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the Stonecutter’s Bridge.
8. Here are various small temples, the prettiest and most important of them being the Spinster Fairy temple.
This temple is from the 1950s. The “spinster fairy” is the youngest of seven sisters in Chinese mythology. Worshippers come to pray for offspring, or for safe sailing.
9. After walking around Peng Lei Court, a public housing estate, you’re back in the main part of the village. Here are a few sights in close proximity. First there is this Kam Fa temple, dedicated to the lady Kam Fa, also known by the Mandarin pronunciation Jinhua. The name literally means “Golden Flower”.
Goddess Jinhua or Madame Jinhua was a righteous lady born to the family of a marital official. She was honoured as a goddess after her death. Worshippers believe that Lady Golden Flower can grant many generations of descendants. This temple celebrates not only her festival but also the popular Bodhisattva Festival.
According to local legend, the head priest of the temple and Kwan Tak-hing, a famous Cantonese opera performer, both met the Goddess in their dreams. On her festival (17th day, 4th lunar month), the temple erupts into colourful dragon and lion dances.
This building is from 1762, and was restored in 1978 by a local, Mrs Yip Kam Lan, after falling into disrepair.
Next to the temple is the octagonal Dragon Well, built so the village had a permanent water source. The shape is thought to represent the Eight Diagrams of Chinese mythology.
10. Just around the corner from the temple of Lady Kam Fa is the Tin Hau temple. Tin Hau, protector of fishermen, is the most commonly worshipped deity in Hong Kong.
This temple was built in the Jiaqing reign of the Qing Dynasty, in 1798. It is thought to be is a reconstruction of a much older temple a the same site. Next to the Tin Hau statue is a whale rib bone on display. The bone is believed to be four hundred years old, however it’s real origin is unknown.
Next to the Tin Hau temple is this stone tablet, dating back to the Qing dynasty. During this period it was common practice for military rulers to take the vessels from local fishermen and use them to lure pirates. This tablet, erected in 1835, bans the expropriation of civilian vessels for this purpose, protecting the livelihoods of local fishermen.
Across the road from the temple is the Righteousness Ancestral Hall. This hall was built 150 years ago as hospice. It consists of three rooms: one for a dying patient, one for a helpless patient and one for the caretaker. An icon of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva was worshipped in the hall and believed to bless the sick and dying patients.
The hall also functioned as the funeral home for the poor residents who died penniless.
From here it is just a few minutes back to the ferry pier, to catch a ferry back to Central. This tour will take about three hours to complete.