Tai O: The Other Side Of Hong Kong

With great joy I look back to my trip to Hong Kong in 2008. I can still remember the excitement, with which I had boarded the airplane in Germany, thinking about nothing else than the adventure, which laid ahead of me during the upcoming 2 weeks. The skyscrapers, the smell of unknown food in my nose, and the impatience of the taxi drivers are still present in my memory. I had viewed Hong Kong as a fairly wealthy city, a business city where everything is possible, where one could start small, and truly make it.

But, as faith inevitably wants it, I discovered the other side of Hong Kong. On a warm, humid, Saturday morning, I met up with a few colleagues from the company I work for. The company has a branch in Hong Kong, and a number of colleagues from the headquarters were in the Hong Kong office at the same time as me. We decided to visit the great Buddha on Lantau island, and set off with the cable car, which gave us an astonishing view over the Hong Kong hills, the sea, and the airport. Although the great Buddha is noteworthy for those wishing to travel to Hong Kong, we decided after a few hours to discover another part of Lantau Island.

Some has been written about Tai O, on the other side of the island, famous for being a small and authentic fisher village. Knowing that the only possibility to reach Tai O would be by bus, we were in for a smaller adventure, and were excited. I must admit, that the road is very curvy, bumpy, the bus was old, and the driver most probably had his foot rock solid on the gas pedal, thus this adventure might not be ideal for those with a weaker stomach. As we reached Tai O after an hour and a half, we exited the bus.

The village is truly a village, and is nothing compared to the metropolitan city of Hong Kong. Small alleys characterize the village, and we strolled through the market, which had all kinds of different items for sale. Mostly everything was old, not taken care of, and obviously this village has seen nothing of the money earned in Hong Kong city. Sometimes, I had the impression, that the locals were somewhat confused to see us, from which I may conclude that Tai O is not very well visited by tourists. Perhaps this is a good thing; I have seen many places, where tourism has done more harm than good. As we exited the market on the other side, we entered into a typical residential area. Some houses were extremely small, consisting of only one room, not seldom without a door, or without windows. The highlight were some houses, which were built on oil barrels, filled with cement or concrete. And at the pier, it was obvious that some ships, and a small crane, had not been taken into use for a number of years.

Tai O is an interesting experience, an eye-opener. I hardly dare to say, that I have experienced villages, and housing much worse than in Tai O. Still, Hong Kong is in no manner reduced to the metropolitan city only, and those seeking an adventure outside the urban area will find it, provided a little sense of adventure, and patience.

Visit Tai O in Google Maps here:


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