Expat, Hong Kong

The Terror of Tolo Harbour


Tolo Harbour looking towards Ma On Shan, Hong Kong at sunrise
Tranquil Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong


You’ve surely heard of the Loch Ness monster and Big Foot?  Now you can add the Terror of Tolo to that list.


Every day we look out over Hong Kong’s Tolo harbour.  It’s peaceful and picturesque.  An enormous statue of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy watches over us from the across the water with a backdrop of verdant mountainside.  We can see islands, a scattering of hillside tombs and at night, the lights from Ma On Shan’s high-rises twinkle.

The Swimmer

Occasionally we see swimmers braving the water attached to a big orange float.  This is to ensure they are visible and aren’t mown over by passing boats.

One stormy morning a few weeks ago, I was one my way to a coffee morning with a group of friends.  We saw a guy out swimming. We all thought he was a bit nuts because it was cold, wet and miserable.  The water was choppy and visibility was poor.

Swimmer with Orange Float, Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong
Swimmer, Tolo Harbour


Our local friend was particularly horrified.  She said, “I don’t understand why people swim here, it’s far too dangerous.”

The Terror

Not that any of us were planning to go for a dip, we quizzed her about the danger factor.  “Is there an undercurrent or strong tide?  Are there sharp rocks?  Is it badly polluted?”  She blinked in slight confusion and asked did we not know about the monster.

She was obviously deadly serious and we didn’t want to offend her.  So the rest of us exchanged skeptical eye-rolls and tried not to giggle too much.

A quick Google search when I arrived home revealed that there really is an urban legend about a monstrous creature that lurks in the deep waters of the harbour. Over the centuries strange happenings have been recorded.  The unexplained disappearance of fishermen, unusual ripples in otherwise calm water and of course blurry unconfirmed sightings.  Blah blah blah.  Yeah, right.

The Horror

This morning we walked the long way to get to school, along the promenade.  It was a beautiful clear morning.  The mist was just burning off the mountaintops and it was still pleasantly fresh outside before the heat of the day kicked in.

We saw three men.  They had climbed over the railing to fish from the rocks below.  It’s a common sight.  We paused to watch and see what they had caught.

Despite the water being otherwise mirror calm, I noticed an odd dark patch moving towards us with small waves rolling sideways.  We’ve seen plenty of strange things float by before.  Once an office chair, another time a semi-submerged fridge.  I was trying to work out what it could be and idly wondered whether submarines ever passed through the harbour.

What happened next took place so quickly and was so deeply shocking I can hardly find the words and I’m still shaking as I write this. The water began to churn and roil and the dark patch became a solid mass that was launching out of the water towards the fishermen.  We scrambled as far back as possible still grappling to process what we were seeing just as one of the fishermen let out the most horrifically blood curdling scream.

His final words: “Happy April fools Day Suckers.”

*No friends were eye-rolled at. no fishermen were devoured by a creature from the deep and any legends about a monster in Tolo Harbour are, to the best of my knowledge, entirely fictional.

While I’ve got your attention, don’t forget to enter the Expat Pass the Parcel Competition.  I’ll be drawing three lucky winners on April 7th 2019.

Gift Box with Metallic Ribbon
What’s in the Mystery Box? Please note this is not the actual prize – this is for illustrative purpose only.


Did I fool you?  Even for a split-second?  Probably not, this one was really far fetched.  Previously I wrote (I think more convincingly) about the New Gold Rush in Gauteng! and there is also my original and best buttock-shaking April Fool’s post: When in Rome that had a few readers feeling genuinely concerned for our modesty until they reached the end.

Tolo Harbour looking towards Ma On Shan, Hong Kong at sunrise
Tranquil Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong


2 thoughts on “The Terror of Tolo Harbour”

    1. Aw thanks Sharmistha – It sounds like it was more convincing that I first thought. A few people have told me they were were fooled. I guess we have so many crazy expat experiences I can almost get away with the occasional fictional anecdote. It’s only the April fools posts that are made up. Everything else on the blog is true.

      Liked by 1 person

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