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 river, floating 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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.