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2nd June 2013, 08:08 AM
One of the oldest fishing villages in Hong Kong, called Tai O. It sits on either side of a small river and all its houses stand on stilts. Almost all are made of tin or other light weight material. They may not be much to look at but the insides cannot be more different. Teak wood floors, carved panels etc. almost palace like (you know what I mean).
In the past there was no direct route to the village except by ferry (a 3 hours ride) or by ferry to another part of this island and then by village bus. Since opening of the new international airport, a through road has been built to allow buses from the north side to get to this southern side. Still from city to here is a 2 hours journey.
The only village that is still on stilts though the Government has tried many times to move them into "better" housing. Villagers will have none of it though and good for them. If the re-housing effort succeeds the place will be turned into an "architected" park and we all know what man-created parks look like.
Unlike other fishing villages with concrete houses etc, the shanty houses are classified as squatter units meaning that there is no buying or selling allowed. New structures are pulled down immediately so there is no expansion. The result is no city folks polluting the villages with pubs and drinking joints and all the attendant "city" problems. The only thing allowed is that the "owner" can rebuild - and some of the structures are pretty awesome (eg white house in pic 3).
On what little flat land there is at the foothills are a school, public conveniences, a library, wet market, some play areas, a police post. Due to the fire risks, it has it own fire station on the other side of the stream.
If anyone of you ever visits HK, take a day out to this place. I go there at least once each time I am in HK. The surrounding area is abundant with wildlife, bugs, birds, flora etc.
1. View from the bridge connecting the 2 sides. Previously there was a boat and a pulley system that was used to pull people from one side to the other. It operated rain or shine in all sorts of weather except hurricanes. That quaint system got replaced with a bridge.
2. Typical of most fishing villages - the temple to the gods of the seas.
3. The architectural mix.
4. The village is a huge fire hazard. Fire destroyed 9 dwellings just one day before my visit. The worst case was 90 houses in the early 90s and the one previous to that with about 50 gone.
5. Fire services were still hosing down the burn site when I got there.
6. Specialty industry - dried/salted sea stuff. Its most famous is the air dried salted fish and squid. The best comes from this place. Due to limited quantities and space there is no big manufacturer as such. All dried seafood is from the fisherman's own catch. Some he will hold back for this salting process.
8. Another product.
The owner knows a bit of English and twisted the Chinese name for prawn crackers and came up with Husband. Tourists find that cute and that is where most of his business comes from. I suspect the stuff does not even originate from this village but...
9. The village mutts. They roam around finding entertainment with other friends or things. No dog or cat poo anywhere - the pets are well behaved.
10. My breakfast - egg and corned beef sandwich, coffee.
2nd June 2013, 11:20 AM
Re: Fishing village
#5, #7 and the explanations are just terrific!
When the homes burn down, are they allowed to be replaced?
2nd June 2013, 11:25 AM
Re: Fishing village
Thanks for sharing, Bobo.
Always interesting to see how some people have to live in other parts of the world.
2nd June 2013, 11:54 AM
Re: Fishing village
Thanks Mike and Andre.
Yes, the registered "owner" can rebuild but only to the registered dimensions. Essentially they are all squatters but decades of tolerance/forbearance has led to an almost no-touch policy. The residents like it and so do the visitors so not all bad.
Here is not a question of "how" they live, it is the way the "want" to live. There are a couple blocks of government housing that was built specifically for them. Pretty decent too. But after remaining empty for many years, the government used it to resettle people displaced by development projects from outside the area.
Photographers will have a field day there and it is surprising that I have never seen any, tourists excepted.