|Discovery Bay Promenade|
Discovery Bay, Hong Kong is unlike anywhere else I have been. And when you read the Hong Kong Lonely Planet guide, they’re pretty dismissive about the place: “Nothing to see here. No need to visit.” But I disagree. And this is why.
When people visit New York or London, they don’t think twice about visiting China Town. It may not be what you’d regard as typical or historical New York or London, but it is interesting none the less. Discovery Bay is no different. It may not be typically Hong Kong, but there are many things that make it interesting.
Where is Discovery Bay?
What is Discovery Bay and where is it? Discovery Bay is on Lantau Island, better known as the island Disneyland and the new airport was built on. It is accessible by ferry, bus and MTR (train/underground). It’s almost exclusively residential, save for a few shops, bars and restaurants, and inhabited by many expats and bankers. This means you probably need to earn a fat salary to live here, but in return, you live near the big city and all its amenities, but yet away from it all.
If you look at the map above, what you’ll notice is how much green space exists on Lantau Island. This means that, although most of the 18,000 residents live in high rise buildings, they are surrounded by green space, parks and access to the outdoors.
|Discovery Bay high-rises|
When you arrive at the Ferry Pier, the first thing that strikes you, is that it feels like a resort more than it feels like a residential town. However, when you look closer, you realise people going about their every day business: kids going to school, parents picking up kids during the school run, families shopping in supermarkets, commuters coming and going to work. But in spite of all that, it still feels like a resort – perhaps even a little manufactured, but in the nicest possible way, because it is beautiful around here.
Experiencing culture, not ticking off countries
This is exactly what I was hoping we would experience and explore during our 6+ months of sabbatical. I didn’t want to tick off the number of countries or sights I have seen in each country. I wanted to try and get the feel of the place: the real place, not just the holiday destination. I guess, I wanted to experience the mundane. Live like an ordinary person.
And an ordinary person in Discovery Bay often brings their own lunch, or buys a quick lunch from Fusion, the local supermarket, to come and sit here in the Discover Bay Plaza to eat it. I love it – everything is looked after (very well might I add!) by the central management, and facilities here are available to everyone. We love to sit here and people watch.
|The Plaza, Discovery Bay|
Accommodation in Discovery Bay
Most people live in one of two types of housing: low rise, or high rise. We haven’t come across any detached houses. They may exist, but not within the main confines of the main town. Some of the low rise buildings have small gardens, but private gardens certainly are a luxury here.
There is now a hotel at the north end of town, which hasn’t been there long. Not sure the local residents are too keen on the new visitors and day-trippers though! I do think I agree with them. Discovery Bay seems to be a ‘friendly size’ where many people know each other, and look out for each other. The unique je ne saia quoit and balance could be threatened. Only time will tell.
|Low rise housing across the bay, Discovery Bay|
|Our Home Exchange flat in a low rise building|
Local life in Hong Kong
Experience of locals
If you’re a Discovery Bay resident, and have any factual errors or you disagree with my summary of the town, do let me know, I would love to add those comments in to balance my views.
Interesting facts about Discovery Bay
Next, I will share more about Discovery Bay’s unique golf carts, transport systems, bars and restaurants, shopping, cakes and food … watch this space. But if you want a sneak preview, take a look on our Instagram or Facebook Accounts: just search for @TimHermolle and @LiezlHesketh.