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Selling husbands and pink dolphins… Lantau Island’s Tai O fishing village

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There’s a rural beauty to Asia that I’m continually drawn to.

Whether it’s tribal villages that you can visit through treks in the mountain, one-room boat houses on riverfloating river markets or night markets with curious food snacks and crafts, … visiting other lifestyles can feel like stepping into a medieval fairytale. Although the communities may at times, be technologically or economically-challenged in comparison to the  western world, I actually find these places unique, refreshing, a bit odd… and beautiful.

What makes a fishing village?

Tai O Village is Lantau Island’s oldest fishing village.

As far back as the 16th century, the small village has been the smuggling center for anything from drugs, illegal activity, guns and even illegal immigrants.

These days, it’s a fishing village, with dilapidated housing raised on stilts, dried seafood shops and a slow dying fishing trade. There’s only one public school there and due to the depressed economy, many of the young eventually leave for the big city, when they get older. Nevertheless, tourists continue to visit it when visiting Lantau Island.

Here’s some interesting things which make Tai-O village unique…

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1.  Live fish sellers

Most live fish sellers station themselves at the entrance to the village or at the local market.  At Tai O, forget about packing the seafood on ice and risking spoils in the heat. There are only two ways a fish is sold; either, dried or fresh for you to take home.

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Live fish sellers

 

2. Dried Seafood

Gauging from what I’ve seen at the Herbal Medicine Market/Dried Seafood Street and Tai O Village, the Hong Kongese love their seafood jerky.  There’s a handful of shops near the entrance, selling dried jerkyor street food at discount prices.

Tip: Dried seafood actually tastes best served hot, so definitely give one of the street vendors a try.

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. dried seafood sales tai-o fishing village, dried fish Dried seafood sellers dried squid snacks, what to eat at tai o village, what to eat at lantau island . dried seafood sales tai-o fishing village, dried fish           Vendors selling street food

 

3. Tai-O has crazy seafood that only locals understand

Like any country, there’s always going to be some kind of meat or local seafood delicacy, that a tourist will experience culture shock with. You’ll find thre are times you can kinda-sorta make something out or you’d prefer not to.

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Please tell me this is ginseng skin and not the skin of some sea turtle or funky animal…

lantau island seafood stores, tai o fishing village lantau island, fishing villages in asia, lantau island attractions, fishing village in hong kongYow…I don’t want to know how they skin things so whole. 
tai o fishing village lantau island, fishing villages in asia, lantau island attractions, fishing village in hong kongBaby manta ray

 

4.  Boats and houses on stilts

Boat excursions operate from the village and they run along the river that cuts through the village. For many, it’s a chance to see the stilted houses and it’s a short ride but one that’s worthwhile to see. My Nong Ping 360 tour package included the boat tour.

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5. Taking a boat ride from Tai O, in search of pink dolphins

Your boat tour might take you on a second excursion… to search for the famous pink dolphins that neighbor the Tai-O waters.

The dolphins are endangered species and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see them. According to Hong Kong Traveller,  their pink color is said to come from blood vessels that are close to their body’s surface and temperature regulation flushes the blood through to make them look pink (read more here).

Our boat driver took us out to hunt for the dolphins for a good 15 minutes, but alas, there was fog and we were not lucky that day.

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.

6. Tai O sells husbands.

What would a town be without its quirks? Tai O has definitely got some and selling “husbands” are one of them.

Whuh?

The homes and shops carry a bit of gray and age to them and rusted bikes are everywhere. A couple of funky cafes nestle next to age- old mom and pop restaurants.

Little surprises peek through.. like  a garden setup of Snow White and her Seven Dwarves… advertising “Spouse Wanted”. That was a kicker and the best sense of humor I’ve seen by far from a fishing village.

But next on the list was a sign… selling “husbands”. Okay, before you get too crazy… husbands are a type of snack. Crazy that they’d name a snack that. Imagine the English confusion of “I’d like to buy 3 husbands”… or “I’m eating a husband and it’s yummy”.

Nice to know that husbands here come edible and pretty cheap though.

They do look yummy. Next time maybe I’ll buy one.

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(above) Happily Ever After  : the sign above this scene says “Snow White Spouse Wanted”;  (below) You can buy Husbands for only $18KHD. That’s cheap! Wonder if they’re any good?
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Getting to Tai O Village :

Website and discounts: www.discoverhongkong.com

Nong Ping Website: http://www.np360.com.hk/en/

Take the New Lantao Bus 11 at MTR Tung Chung Station to Tai O Bus Terminus. The journey takes about 50 minutes.

7 Comments

  1. I love reading reports about different places, not just the stock standard ‘Here is Paris’ posts. Looks like you got to experience something completely different. I can almost smell the fish market from here hehe

    • @Nicole: Thanks! I felt it was pretty different and yes, strongly fishy. Although, it’s quite hard to fall too far ‘off the beaten path’ in Hong Kong either. =( These days, finding new places to explore takes a lot of creativity.

  2. The Baby manta ray photo is Manta Ray Fins. All the dried seafood are so common in Chinese community. I like to walk and photo shoot around fishing village, although it may smell fishy.

  3. Jarmo says:

    I really liked Tai, but much like you, didn’t get any luck with seeing the pink dolphins, at least you got to see the town from the boat which was cool. I did spent quite a few hours photographing the town. It’s such a different world to Hong Kong, so it’s difficult imagine you’re so close!

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