When Zero Chan first arrived on the island of Peng Chau, a short boat journey from Hong Kong’s central business district, at a time when she was experiencing burnout and recovering from sickness, something snapped for her immediately.
According to the former film producer who spoke to Reuters, “taking the ferry back is like a cleansing ritual.” “On the ferry, I may read, do my own thing, or fall asleep. Already, I feel revitalized.”
For those like Chan who want to escape the stress brought on by things like pro-democracy rallies in 2019, a subsequent national security crackdown, and most recently, stringent restrictions against COVID-19, the island provides a proper middle ground.
These modifications have altered daily life in the global financial center, driving hundreds of thousands to leave for Britain, Canada, and Taiwan, but Chan has stayed on.
Following that initial visit in 2020, Chan, who has a yoga and meditation studio in her home on the island, said, “At a time when many think Hong Kong is no longer the same as before, the more I feel the desire to remain, to see what I can do.”
A smattering of homemakers, office professionals, and retirees make up her clientele. She gathers her thoughts for the day as she eats breakfast and drinks tea in front of the sea each morning at a white cast-iron table.
The 36-year-old Buddhist and Zen practitioner said, “People need space, yet there’s so much noise in the city. “I’m ecstatic right now,”
According to some observers, the protest events in 2014 and 2019 railed against China’s tightening grip on the former British colony.
According to Ng Mee-Kam, a professor of urban studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “These social gatherings are crucial catalysts.”
“I believe it is inevitable that people of all generations will ponder what is happening and what life means amid all these changes, tensions, and conflicts.”
Peng Chau is being revitalized by newcomers attracted by an ideal lifestyle and affordable rents in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets, reversing an exodus in the 1970s when fortunes declined in the region, which was previously the site of Hong Kong’s largest matchstick factory.
Numerous run-down village houses have been rehabilitated, while abandoned concrete structures like the Fook Yuen leather factory have been transformed into an art area called “the secret garden” with graffiti and installation works.
Along with traditional Chinese temples, family-owned businesses, restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and independent booksellers have sprung up.
Jesse Yu, who went to the island to pursue his ambition of becoming a carpenter, stated, “My woodwork master recently came to see me.”
Yu’s workshop, hidden beneath a bed in his studio apartment, is around 100 square feet (9.3 square meters), or just enough for two people to stand. “He was pretty shocked and asked me whether we young people can truly subsist on fantasies,” Yu said.
Yu, who does freelance corporate communications and occasionally goes kayaking with her buddy Chan, said, “My dream is just a wall away from me.”
I like the flexibility of woodworking. Therefore I do it often.
Yet despite a rising tendency toward seeking a peaceful living in remote New Territories settlements and islands, such areas are endangered by large-scale new development projects, according to scholar Ng.
He said, “I think we, as a community, need to be extremely careful because the boundaries for the younger generation to have the room to explore these alternative lives is dwindling.
Taki Chan, a college instructor who just relocated to the island, values its strong sense of neighborhood.
After the experience made her feel better enough to join them in a swim even though she wasn’t feeling well, she quickly became friends with a group of women she had met while on a stroll.
Chan stated, “I realized I don’t need to emigrate any longer after relocating to Peng Chau.
There are many options here to assist you in reenergizing, including the locals and the peaceful, natural surroundings.