Thursday, October 7, 2010

Leaving Hong Kong behind in Tai O

Photo credit: Flickr/Dennis Wong

The stilt-house community of Tai O on Lantau Island is known as the Venice of the Orient, but let’s be honest. It’s nothing like the opulent Italian city.

Tai O, once Hong Kong’s biggest fishing community, was ravaged by fires, floods and typhoons in recent years, and it shows.

The community’s derelict pang uk (Cantonese for stilt-houses) look like they were built with whatever villagers could scavenge -- broomsticks, Styrofoam boxes, bits of nylon netting. Houses some distance away from the main street have broken windows. Barefooted grannies play majong on balconies overlooking the canal, their front doors flung wide open.

For some, this is Tai O’s charm. It is the antithesis of the city landscape and is a throwback to Hong Kong’s past as a simple fishing village.

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