The 'Resort' on Sunset Peak [????- ]
As you near the top of Sunset Peak, you'll find 20 squat, grey buildings. If you're used to Asian beach holidays, you might find the description 'resort' a bit of a stretch. But that's how Denis Bray describes them, as he writes about life as a missionary's son in the 1930s :
In these days of universal air conditioning it is difficult to appreciate the trials of the summer in Hong Kong, let alone the hotter and more humid conditions in South China. The typical tour for a missionary was five years followed by a furlough in England during which the missionary toured the country speaking about his experiences. During the hot summers missionaries' families would descend on the resorts of Hong Kong. Two were particularly popular — Cheung Chau and Sunset Peak on Lantau.
On Lantau a number of bungalows had been built and are still there. We slept in our bungalows but had our meals in the common dining room which was also used for meetings and services. As children we spent the whole time out of doors and swimming in pools in the streams. My most vivid memory of Lantau was being there in a typhoon. We must have had some warning of the approach of the typhoon as the shutters were closed, so that the lamps had to be lit — there was no electricity of course. We did not have long to wait before the storm hit. The noise was terrific and the wind blew quantities of water under the door into the bungalow It seemed to go on for a long time. The next day the shutters were opened, the lamps put out and we emerged into a battered but recognisable environment.
I've also received several interesting emails from Donald Ady, who is also a missionary's son, and who arrived in Hong Kong in 1938:
I went up via Tung Chung in 1938 (? maybe it was) and henceforth via Mui Woh, Silvermine Bay. The latter was a modest village then. The inter-island ferry paused offshore a short distance as there was no quay. A long boat rowed usually by one little old lady came alongside for passengers and baggage. She rowed with one long stern sweep oar with its handle connected to the deck by a rope and ring on the deck. Compound leverage was applied by pushing a foot horizontally on the rope. The boat ran aground and we jumped out on the sands. We accessed the first foothill beyond the village, then by crossing a series of narrow paths atop rice paddy field dikes.
The Laan Tau camp saddle had shacks, many of which were owned by missionaries originally. Most constructed out of cut black basalt blocks, topped by flat concrete roofs. Ours was the highest in camp near Sunset Peak.
A love of the fog is an acquired taste, one which I acquired myself there. But it does spoil the long view - especially perhaps in June or parts of July on Laan Tau. My wife stares at me as if I'd gone totally mad when I rave about that rare foggy day here in NJ, USA. Maybe you got your belly full in the fog? Proper dress in that is barefoot with nothing but wool sweater and trunks for the males. Clothes in a nearly airtight soldered tin box.
By coincidence I spent a weekend with a group of friends in one of those bungalows in the early 1990s. When we arrived the building was very chilly and damp. Inside it got better as the warmth from the people, lamps and stoves dried it out. But outside we were in the swirling clouds the whole time. The visit was arranged through a friend's church, so apparently the church connection remains. A friend suggests that they are now known as the Lantau Mountain Camp.
Donals also sent this link, which shows photos taken along the path from Mui Wo to Sunset Peak. You can see the buildings in the photo titles 'shelters on the ridge'.
Until a few weeks ago you could also zoom in to see the buildings using the Google satellite view above. However today I see they've updated the images, and the latest set put a large cloud over most of the buildings! Maybe the next update will reveal them again.
Does anyone else have any information or memories to share?