Skip to content

Ma Wan

I've lived in Hong Kong for many years but until now have never been to Ma Wan. For those of you not familiar with HK Ma Wan is 1 sq km of island between Hong Kong and the island of Lantau. For most its history it remained completely undisturbed and probably changed little after the British arrived to plant their flag. It was Saturday of the May Day holiday weekend and I needed to get out so I headed to the central ferry piers. Being a holiday weekend everyone else was clearly of a similar mind and the queues for all the popular destinations were too long to make the destinations attractive and so I moved along the ferries looking for one that was not so popular. And this is why I ended up on Ma Wan.

Lantau also remained a relatively undisturbed diamond in Hong Kong's back yard until, firstly the Discovery Bay Company arrived to turn one corner of it into a green yet sterile housing estate overlooking a fine beach; an area popular with expats. While the housing estate may be sterile the inhabitants clearly are not as defined by the number of baby buggies, babies, toddlers and expectant mothers that seem to appear from every leafy apartment block.

The next blow to strike the countryside and wildlife of Lantau island was the building of Hong Kong airport. This led to the demolition of a few islands, the building of another attractive new town and all the other signs of impending doom. Being an island was a bit of a handicap for an airport site so infrastructure had to be built in order to get from the airport back into Hong Kong. A bridge tends to be one of the first solutions that people look towards in such circumstances but there is quite a bit of water between Hong Kong and Lantau. And this is where Ma Wan comes into its own being strategically placed between the two. So the planners decided that Ma Wan should no longer be a little visited back water but should actually become the base for the Lantau bridge to rest on on its way to the airport.

ma wan

At the same time as making the island a bridge support Ma Wan became a shiny new housing development called Park Island. On arriving my overall impression of Ma Wan was that it was much the same as Discovery Bay but with Chinese people.

ma wan

The developers have clearly tried very hard to turn Ma Wan into a pleasant environment for the many thousands of inhabitants. Apart from attractions such as Noah's Ark, which I did not visit, there are plenty of areas of greenery with an extensive nature garden. Typically for Hong Kong the nature garden has been planted with plenty of lush green plants but in order to do this it must have been necessary to tear out quite a lot of natural lush green vegetation. But worse is the fact that no matter how attractive the walk through the garden may appear you cannot escape the noise of traffic rushing over the island on the airport bridge.

ma wan

And if we go back to the first photo try zooming in with your browser and you will see a far too common sight, rubbish. It is staggering that we can live in a potentially spectacular landscape with superb beaches and yet for every visitor to Ma Wan one of the first sights to greet them is this litter strewn beach. And it certainly isn't the only beach like that in Hong Kong. Granted when there is heavy rain or the wind is in the wrong direction it is hard to keep some rubbish from being washed ashore but you would expect people to take sufficient pride in their home to get the place cleaned up on a regular basis. But unless there is money to be made who cares?