Peng Chau, Hong Kong
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Island Retreat, Day-Tripper's Delight
Hong Kong is greener than you might think. Offsetting its mind-boggling population density is plentiful natural scenery ranging from beaches to mountains that keeps avid outdoorsmen coming back and has roped quite a few into residency. It's imperative to dabble in this other side of Hong Kong—the fishing villages, the hiking trails—or risk losing your mind in the metropolis' unforgiving pace. For a non-sporty type like me, the small island of Peng Chau is an ideal escape offering leisurely walks, a wonderful wine bar, and precious space and quiet. From Central Pier 6, the ferry ride lasts 25 or 40 minutes, depending on which you take. Like most of Hong Kong's outlying islands, Peng Chau is free of cars, which you'll notice the moment you disembark and spy bikes and uncollared dogs. Take a left at the temple in the main square and make your way to the open BBQ stations by the water's edge; if you haven't brought provisions you can pick some up at the Wellcome supermarket by the ferry landing. Or get lost in the narrow alleys of family-run shops, tour the few small temples, follow a path up a leafy hill and note how slowly time passes in this self-contained village absent from many a tourist itinerary. Two Frenchmen call the island home and run Les Copains d'abord, a wine bar with outdoor seating and prices unheard of on Hong Kong Island. With a friend or two, a chilled white and a generous platter of imported cheese and charcuterie, you might stay longer than planned.
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