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Tai O fishing village

A short 20-minutes bus ride away, to the west of Po Lin Monastery, lies Tai O, a traditional fishing village that sits partly on Lantau Island and partly on a small island mere metres away – not immediately obvious until I had a closer look at the map. The small island is today connected to Lantau by way of 2 bridges: Tai Chung footbridge (completed 1996) and Sun Ki bridge (completed 1979); until then, river crossing relied on punting and even rope-tow ferry pulled by elderly Hakka women! If you want to experience the latter, it may be possible on some weekends and holidays, but not on the day I was visiting.

Tai O

Tai O

On arrival, we were lured by the touts selling boat tour of the village and to see the pink dolphins. The 30-minutes ride is very affordable, and while no sighting of the dolphins for us that particular day, what I actually found more fascinating is the way of life in this small village that relies heavily on the river and the sea for their livelihood. It is as different from central Hong Kong as day and night. No skyscrapers, no shopping malls, but houses so close that the neighbours could stick their heads into each other’s living rooms.

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

What’s distinct in this former trading and fishing port is the stilt houses built along the edge of the river, although they are, in general, in a rather sorry state. Tai O community had had to cope not only with the elements (floods and typhoons) but in 2000, it also endured a large fire which destroyed many of these wooden structures. Rebuilding is taking place but at a very slow pace, and with the younger generation now most likely found in the Central with a 9-5 job, the elderly are left to fend the place. This decline is rather sad to observed, but admittedly, life cannot stay on a standstill and we move on with time.

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

With its glory days as major port (and pirate haven!) over, coupled to the collapse of its salt and agriculture industry, Tai O now relies on tourism to bring in some revenue. Photographers like the charm of the old stilt-houses, foodies drawn to the local seafood specialties, and others eager to see pink dolphins just off the coast of the island. At weekends, the place would be bustling but midweek proves busy enough too – we visited during midweek and when we were ready to return to Tung Chung for the MTR, the queue at the bus stop of leaving visitors was easily three-busloads at a time. Not wanting to wait another 20 minutes, we caught the second bus, but only because we agreed to stand – not advised for anyone who gets motion sickness because the drive is through windy roads for a good 40-45 minutes!

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Tai O

Our exploration of Tai O brought us to local market and its many display of dried and/or salted seafood, XO sauces and snacks for the wanderers. When lost among the stilt houses, we observed small families getting ready for dinner, neighbours sitting together on their small porch for a chat, aromatic dish bubbling away from an outdoor stove, and covered walkways between two houses that we were worried if we had accidentally walked into someone’s home without permission. Of course, the locals also looked at us curiously, especially the further away we were from the centre of the village. I guess tourists usually don’t come this far along.

As the night fell, we had to call it a day for there were little public street lightings on the outskirts of the village. We did not want to be too late getting back to Hong Kong either, for there are limited transportation options around here too. The village once again turns sleepy, devoid of curious visitors and nosy photographers (I admit I was both!), and awaits another day when the touts could sell tickets for dolphin tours, the chefs hawking their specialties, and temple doors open to worshippers.

All posts in this series:
Hong Kong: What can I do in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong: First impression: Hong Kong
Hong Kong: More dim sum, please
Hong Kong: Postcards: The (Victoria) Peak
Hong Kong: Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden
Hong Kong: Wong Tai Sin Temple
Hong Kong: Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha
Hong Kong: Tai O fishing village
Hong Kong: Postcards: Stanley
Hong Kong: Chinese desserts galore
Hong Kong: Occupy Central with Love and Peace
Hong Kong: Hong Kong by night
Hong Kong: So many markets
Hong Kong: How to gain a few kilos in a week
Hong Kong: Once upon a clear sky in Hong Kong



Category: Asia, Hong Kong, Travel

Tagged: , , , ,

7 scribbles & notes

  1. sila says:

    niiiice. honestly, some of these photos remind me of pangkor and makes me homesick.. :)

  2. med says:

    Went to lantau island but i think i missed this…not sure hahaha…definitely not as detailed as you….very niceeeee….miss the seafood!!!

  3. med says:

    hmmmm…i think i am getting the islands mixed up!! I definitely went to the Big Buddha island and the other island i went is where Chow Yuen Fatt was born…which is Lamma island hahahaha. We went and trekked this island ;)

    • Lil says:

      That’s another place I didn’t have time to go, plus it was rather smoggy most of the time we were there, so between that and my cold, it was better to take it easy… ;)

  4. […] walked into the heart of Tai O Village and there is a cable-stayed bridge known as “Sun Ki Bridge“.  I found Sun Ki Bridge is […]

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