Ma Wan Island in October 1994

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 19:06

This picture was taken on Ma Wan Island in October 1994 near Ma Wan Public Pier, on the western side of Ma Wan Island.  We took the ferry from Sham Tseng to Ma Wan and saw these trays of shrimp paste drying out in the sunshine.  They were very smelly!  At the time there were restaurants near the pier where a good seafood lunch could be had.  I remember having fresh mussels in black bean sauce there, and they were very good. The construction of the Tsing Ma bridges had recently begun at that time.  The unfinished bridge supports can be seen in the background.  The ferry from Sham Tseng no longer runs and the scene on Ma Wan is very different today.  The people who lived in the village there were moved to other places in Hong Kong when the island was developed as it appears in the present.  

Date picture taken
10 Oct 1994 (day is approximate)


This photo shows the harbour on the south-west of Ma Wan Island as it was in the mid-1990s before the road and bridges to Chek Lap Kok Airport had been completed.  When we disembarked from the Ferry, which had just arrived from Sham Tseng, we noticed the trays of shrimp paste drying in the sun, and how smelly they were.  The village there was evacuated before the new housing development was established.  I think the houses are still there but they are abandoned and empty.

This photograph brings back memories. I spent many weekends and summer holiday on Ma Wan Island in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was a child. My grandmother lived there at the time, and so did some of my relatives. Before all these Tsing Ma Bridge/airport construction works, Ma Wan was a quiet fishing village, a small community of people living their simple lives. Kap Shui Mun provided some sort of isolation from the busy city life. 

The smell of shrimp paste is unforgettable, it is smelly to some, but it tastes good to me! I still remember, in the hot sunny days, every inch of public space under the sun was used for drying shrimp paste (placed in round bamboo trays as seen in your photograph). Some people say Ma Wan used to make the best shrimp paste in Hong Kong. Sadly the production came to an end when the old villages were relocated to the other side of the island. The shrimp paste family is still around, they have been our neighbours for many decades! 

- Kenneth Wong