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Lamma Island
hippie lifestyle
Image by Melanie Lazarow
Lamma Island (南丫島), also known as Pok Liu Chau (博寮洲), which is a part of the Islands District, is the third largest island in Hong Kong. Lamma was named after the shape of the island which looks like the fork of a tree, or the Chinese character 丫 (pronounced "ah" in Cantonese, and which has the same shape as the letter Y), and Naam meaning "south" (/n/ is often realized as /l/ in colloquial speech). Lamma (南丫) thus means literally "southern Y". The name can also mean "Southern Peninsula Island".

The original name of the island is Pok Liu. The island is shaped like two Y in opposite direction. The north Y is Pak A (北丫) and south Y is Nam A (南丫). When the British first came to the island, they used the colloquial pronunciation of Nam Ah, i.e. "Lam Ah (Lamma)" as the name of the island. The Chinese names of East Lamma Channel (東博寮海峽) and West Lamma Channel (西博寮海峽) are still formed from Pok Liu instead of Nam A. Another folk etymology says the name came from a former lamaist monastery on the island.

Geography

Example of a naturally formed rock found near the summit of Mt. Stenhouse.

Walking the trail between Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan
Lamma Island is located to the southwest of Hong Kong Island. It is the third largest island of Hong Kong, with an area of 13.55 km²[2] and a length of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). The northern village is called Yung Shue Wan (Banyan Tree Bay) and the eastern village is called Sok Kwu Wan (Rainbow Bay). Few people live on the southern part of Lamma. Access for much of this part is by hiking or private boat. Sham Wan, an important breeding site for sea turtles, is located there.

Mount Stenhouse (山地塘, Shan Tei Tong) is the tallest mountain in Lamma (353 metres above sea-level), situated between Sok Kwu Wan and Sham Wan. Unusually shaped rocks can be found all over this mountain, but a gruelling hike is necessary to access these.

History[edit]
According to archaeological findings, human settlement on the northern and eastern part of Lamma Island can be traced back to around 4000-3000 BC,[3] the Middle Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

Demography[edit]

Yung Shue Wan.
Lamma has an estimated population of 6,050 people. However, with future developments such as a planned beach community in Sok Kwu Wan the population capacity is expected to double to 11,000 residents.[4]

Actor Chow Yun-fat (周潤發) grew up on the island in the village of Tung O in Yung Shue Wan. His family still operates a seafood/pigeon restaurant called "Shau Kee" in the main village.

Lamma has a significant Western and international population. The island has had a reputation for alternative lifestyles, hippies, and a relaxed attitude, but Lamma is being urbanized and property prices are on the increase, because of the attraction of this lifestyle.[5]

Description[edit]
In contrast to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, Lamma is peaceful and tranquil with an abundance of natural scenery. Buildings higher than three storeys are prohibited and there are no automobiles but diminutive fire trucks and ambulances, as well as distinctive open-back vehicles to transport construction materials. The community’s only means of transport is either by foot or bicycle.

Lamma provides an alternative to the hectic life in the city. Property and rents are cheap compared with those of central Hong Kong. These factors have attracted a significant expatriate community to Lamma Island. It is also popular with younger people and a haven for artists and musicians.

Yung Shue Wan[edit]
Main article: Yung Shue Wan

Hongkong Electric’s Lamma Power Station
Yung Shue Wan (Banyan Bay) is the most populated area on Lamma Island. Several decades ago, it was the centre of the plastics industry. The factories have now been replaced by seafood restaurants, pubs, grocery stores and shops which sell oriental and Indian-style handicraft. Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Power Station and Lamma Winds are also located in the northern part of the island.