I think we all know that the land of Dim Sum is also the land of shopping. With rows and rows of shops, departmental stores, night markets, and ladies street open till the late A.M, Hong Kong is really a city that never sleeps.
It’s common knowledge that Hong Kong’s food and shopping can turn anyone into an Olympian race-walker. During my first trip to Hong Kong, I anticipated a busy city and an urban chaos – an image very much influenced by Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express.
Nonetheless, Hong Kong isn’t just about shopping and Dim Sum! There are certain corners in Hong Kong where peace and quiet prevails. A friend brought me to a fishing village in Hong Kong less known to tourists, and I must say, it had quite a lasting impression!
Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O is located on the western side of Lantau Island. We took a bus to Tai O after we looked at the giant statue of Buddha at Ngong Ping. I have to admit that when it comes to travelling, I make little to no plans so most of the Hong Kong trip’s itinerary was planned by my fellow traveller and long-time friend, Eugene.
We visited Tai O because Eugene remembered taking a bus from Ngong Ping to that area almost 10 years ago as a child. It’s quite impressive he still retained a memory of visiting Tai O from so long ago! After taking a tour of Tai O, I understood why the fishing village had such a lasting impression. We spent the entire afternoon there and I took many pictures that you wouldn’t even believe came from Hong Kong!
What’s So Special About Tai O?
What’s unique about Tai O is that it seems to move at a pace of its own, and when I was there, I kind of forgot I was in Hong Kong. Unlike the main island of Hong Kong, Tai O is a rather peaceful, and perhaps, run down fishing village. It’s actually a lot larger than I expected fishing villages to be – there are little trinket shops, coffee shops, temples, and even kindergartens.
We walked around a small estate, and saw the day-to-day things: people’s laundry, a few bikes parked beneath a huge tree, and a few benches to sit on. Seeing that we were actually in Hong Kong, the estate was unusually quiet – in a peaceful way, that is. If it weren’t for the laundry and potted plants hanging outside the windows, I would’ve thought no one lived in the estate anymore.
A Kind Of Retirement Haven?
My friend told me that Tai O was kind of like a place where people went to when they wanted to retire. I’m not sure if he’s right but I’ll take his word for it, since most of the locals on the island were older folks.
It’s kind of hard to imagine what the locals actually do on the island. Yes, I know it’s a fishing village, and for those who don’t fish, they had their own shops to look after. But what do they do for fun? Do they buy the same groceries all the time from the same few shops? Where do they even get their stocks from? Since it’s quite disconnected from the main island, it’s hard to imagine whether they felt disconnected from the rest of the world too. Walking around Tai O really feels like visiting a different realm of reality.
I guess when I’m old, tired, and have seen enough of the world, a simple quiet place to live in could be just what I want. Perhaps that’s what these folks are thinking too.
Abandoned Village In Decline Or Up And Coming Tourist Spot?
There are quite a number of half demolished buildings and abandoned homes. While taking a walk along the wooden stilt houses, we saw some abandoned homes which are, strangely, still furnished (although tables and chairs were just lying on the ground). Right next to these abandoned spaces, though, are also popular coffee shops and even some hipster cafes.
To be honest, I’m not sure whether Tai O is a fishing village in decline, or a once-declining fishing village that is in the midst of being rebuilt. I’m guessing the later, seeing that there are some tour groups (although not many) that visit Tai O by boat and by bus. If it is the later, then I guess it’s probably good idea to visit the quiet little place before its being bombarded by tourist, and it loses its special charm!