Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008

3. Charter a Junk

Everyone thinks of Hong Kong as a city, but in fact it is a sprawling archipelago of 260 islands. If you never see their rugged coastlines or deserted coves, and if you are never buffeted by the salty sea wind as it blows full pelt across a surging prow, then you will not know very much of Hong Kong at all. To see the place as it must have appeared to generations of fishermen and pirates, hire a "junk" (the term formerly applied to traditional Chinese fishing boats now refers to any motorized pleasure vessel). Load a picnic and a cool-box of beer and wine, and set off through the scattered islets. Drop anchor somewhere remote and dive off the deck for a swim.

Eight-hour charters start at around at $490 from Traway; the website is in Chinese only, but staff speak English (852-2527-2513). Companies like Jaspas (852-2792-6001) and Saffron (852-2857-1311) charge considerably more, but provide better-looking craft and, in Jaspas' case, cold beverages, onboard lunch and waiter service. Get a group of friends and local colleagues together to share the cost. Junks will collect you from Central's Pier 9 (nearest MTR: Central) or Kowloon Public Pier (nearest MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui).