Tai O

16 08 2016

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For the last “trip” of my Summer break I set out on an overcast day to visit the fishing village of Tai O on the far side of Lantau island. From Central I took the ferry to Mui Wo and then the surprisingly long bus journey, ninety minutes across the island, past verdant valleys and craggy peaks, one topped by the distant Big Buddha, prisons and holiday homes, flowering trees and tumbling streams, to Tai O.

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Tai O is famous as the “Venice of Hong Kong,” a traditional fishing town built on stilted houses above an estuary. I wasn’t expecting a lot – after seeing many “traditional” places in Hong Kong you learn to temper your expectations. But the village was surprisingly scenic. A short but humid walk along the shore, past houses made from old shipping containers, brought me to a local landmark. The former colonial police station has been converted into a Victorian-era boutique hotel, standing on a hill gazing out to sea. I sat in the dining room, pretty with its glass ceilings and wooden booths, looking out at the grey harbour and the surrounding hills.

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Tai O’s other claim to fame is as the base for “dolphin watching” tours to see the rare Chinese pink dolphin. Again, not expecting much, I hopped into a boat moored in the canal with some mainland tourists. It was 20 HKD for twenty minutes – what could we reasonably expect to see?

But just five minutes out of port the first dolphin appeared, its pale pink fin cutting through the grey waves, before another dolphin splashed out of the waves, far to our left.

Behind them, planes zoomed off from the nearby airport and the long, still-under-construction bridge to nowhere (or Zhuhai actually) loomed hazily in the distance.

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It was a slightly incongruous scene, but undeniably a worthwhile daytrip.

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