A daai fei with stolen vehicle cargo | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

A daai fei with stolen vehicle cargo

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A daai fei with stolen vehicle cargo

Photo 1. A daai fei with stolen vehicle cargo, underway, leaving Tolo Channel into Mirs Bay, heading towards mainland Chinese coast - 1990. Very rare to see a daai fei operating in daylight. They almost always operated during darkness. This one must have been delayed for some reason.

Read more about the daai fei in Deadly Game, a sample chapter from the book A Small Band Of Men.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Monday, January 1, 1990


Hi Les, a quick question. I've always wondered whether the (destroyed) concrete ramp at Lung Ha Wan beach was constructed for the purpose of loading cars into these daai fei boats? Do you know anything about it? I believe the ramp was blown up by the army sometime in the 90s.



Hi Phil,

I'm afraid I don't know why that ramp was put there. Or why it was destroyed. I can only add a few points that might help. The majority of activity during the 'daai fei smuggling era' took place out of Tolo Channel, although I do know that some did use loading spots further south, on the Sai Kung peninsula, when Tolo became effectively policed. Generally, the smuggling syndicates preferred the more sheltered waters of the Tolo Channel to the more unpredictable seas further south-east. Daai feis and unstable seas don't go well together. In guaranteed calm conditions their very high speed could be put to maximum effect. Also, ramps leading into the water were not ideal loading points. To actually place a car into a daai fei the syndicates used a crane and winch to lift the car up, swing it around, then lower the car into the stern compartment. This was best done from a raised horizontal position, like a sea wall or jetty. Ramps were not that useful for loading a car. Of course, they used to smuggle other things that were in demand in China at the time, like TV sets and DVD players. They could take about 400 sets in one of those vessels. But then again a jetty with steps was prefered, so that the daai fei could tie-up alongside for loading. Water immediately next to a ramp would usually be too shallow for this. Hope this helps, and sorry I can't help with your specific question on the Lung Ha Wan ramp.

Thanks for the explanation, Les. Very interesting. Looking forward to grabbing myself a copy of the book in the next few weeks.


The picture of the daai fei shown was taken by me and its date should be mid 1993 and south of Hong Kong Island passed High Island Reservoir heading for the boundary. This was well after the Tolo barrier had been put in place as recommended by Les Bird.

I believe the loading spot was near Lei Yue Mun and other sites used were near the current Marine Police HQ as well as Stanley and the A frame bridge on Ap lei Chau. Other than that lighters would be used to load Daai fei's in the harbour. Other locations chosen were near the Castle Peak Power Station and Sai Kung near the Outward Bound School.