His hair glis­tens in the torch­light as he skill­ful­ly climbs the rocks from the inky black ocean below. Not wear­ing any shoes he is most­ly naked except for a loin­cloth. His ears are pierced with fish bone orna­men­ta­tion, his long hair held back with a pol­ished stone ring. Arriv­ing in front of a fresh stone carv­ing, the shape of a human form is illu­mi­nat­ed by torch­light. In front of the carv­ing he places a baked clay pot with geo­met­ric pat­terns adorn­ing its sur­face, the smell of fresh fish from with­in. Next to the pot, he places a small pile of shell­fish and a pile of stone fish hooks; an offer­ing to appease the gods. He hopes to have an abun­dance of food for his family.

Hong Kong Neolithic Man Fishing Boat

Hong Kong Neolith­ic Man — Fish­ing Boat

Or at least this is how I imag­ined a night much like this one went, some 3,000 years ago. Right now I’m alone with this old rock art. Not much is known about Hong Kong’s ancient rock carv­ings, scat­tered amongst the islands, 8 in total have been found. They have been esti­mat­ed to be from the Bronze Age, which for Hong Kong is about 3,000 years ago. This is based on sim­i­lar pat­terns found on pot­tery from this time period. 

Po Toi Island

I made a trip to Po Toi, one of Hong Kong’s South­ern-most island and often referred to as the South Pole of Hong Kong. My plan was to camp for a few nights and explore the island. The infre­quent fer­ry meant that for a few days I had the place almost to myself, there is a small fish­ing vil­lage but there aren’t many res­i­dents. So I packed a 3‑pound jar of peanut but­ter, a loaf of bread and some noo­dles and set off on an adven­ture, like Fro­do, but with peanut but­ter sand­wich­es. That evening after a spec­tac­u­lar sun­set accom­pa­nied by a peanut but­ter sand­wich, instant noo­dles heat­ed over a portable butane stove and a glass or two of wine (yeah I hauled a box of wine too) I left my tent, head­ing out to the rock carv­ings, head­lamp in hand, tot­ing my cam­era and tripod. 

Camping on Po Toi island

Camp­ing on Po Toi island

As is the case with all of the ancient rock carv­ings of Hong Kong it is close to water. The beau­ti­ful Caribbean like waters of Po Toi splash below me, but under the night sky, they’ve turned almost black. 

I dis­cov­ered that the rock carv­ings, bare­ly vis­i­ble dur­ing the day, take on an entire­ly new dimen­sion at night when I can shine my 1,000-lumen head­lamp (about as bright as a car head­lamp) at a 90-degree angle and reveal all the nuances of these worn rock carv­ings. Pret­ty impres­sive con­sid­er­ing they have prob­a­bly been here for 3,000 years. 

Po Toi Island Hong Kong Rock Carving

Po Toi Island Hong Kong Rock Carving

As I set up my tri­pod and begin click­ing away, my imag­i­na­tion starts drift­ing. I won­der what it was like, right in this spot, some 3,000 years ago when they were carved. I’m not sure if it’s the thought of an ancient man or the spir­its he was prob­a­bly try­ing to appease, or per­haps it was the faces I began to see in the shad­ows of the rock as I move my head­lamp, try­ing to make out the hid­den pat­terns, but my usu­al­ly calm demeanor from being alone in nature begins to turn toward a slight unease.

Faces in the rock - Po Toi Island Hong Kong

Faces in the rock — Po Toi Island Hong Kong. Can you see the two faces?

I want to get back to my tent now. My plan to vis­it the haunt­ed man­sion of Poi Toi at night will have to wait, besides I need to wake up before sun­rise and go skin­ny dip­ping in the Caribbean col­ored water of Po Toi.

Po Toi Ocean

Po Toi Island

Getting to Po Toi Island ‑Ferry Schedule

Take the Fer­ry from Aberdeen (depart­ing near the fish mar­ket) on Hong Kong Island or the fer­ry from Stane­ly on the week­ends. The fer­ry sched­ule is as follows

Tues­days and Thursdays:
Departs Aberdeen (near the fish mar­ket) at 10 am.
Departs Po Toi at 2 pm.

Departs Aberdeen (near the fish mar­ket) 10 am & 3 pm
Departs PO Toi 2 pm & 4 pm (to Aberdeen via Stanely)

Departs Stane­ly Pier 1:20 pm
Departs Po Toi for Stane­ly (Blake Pier) 12:40 pm (the fer­ry at 2 pm and 4 pm also stops at Stanely)

Sun­days and Pub­lic Holidays
Departs Aberdeen (near the fish mar­ket) 8:15 am
Departs PO Toi 6 pm (to Aberdeen via Stanely)

Departs Stane­ly Pier 9:15 am, 10:45 am, 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm & 6:00 pm

The fer­ry sched­ule can also be found here.