Tai-O / Lantau Island, Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong at the ungodly time of 6am. Having about half a day to kill before we could check-in to our hotel… What does one do in Hong Kong?

The airport is located in Lantau Island so we had several options: a) The Big Buddah / b) Disney Land / c) Tai-O (aka ‘The Oriental Venecia’). This required some serious thought. We’ve seen our fair share of Buddahs from our Thailand trip ranging from miniature statues right to gold ones of epic proportions, hanging out with Mickey was tempting but we decided to go with Tai-O, an important fishing village back in the day.

Turns out we got the best of all worlds, the que and the 30min bus ride to Tai-O was as stomach churning as an amusement park ride, minus the safety precautions of course. The only thing that slowed the bus driver down was a suicidal carabao.

As soon as the bus doors opened, first thing we noticed was that everything smelt like fish. Almost Immediately – we too stank of fish. We were just thankful that our feet were back on semi-solid ground as we started to explore the rickety little village.

Hop-scotching over precariously balanced planks (trying desperately not to fall in the water), we meandered through cascading ramps and jetties of the old houses on stilts. A real contrast to the homes on the other side of the bridge, where medieval houses were tucked in-between communist monster blocks spray-painted silver.

We were stared at a lot. It could have been because Dave was the only white person in the village or because we were taking pics of mundane things like manhole covers, signage and doorways. Likely, all of the above.

The island was buzzing with activity – we initially saw the odd person carrying flower bouquets, but after a while, things started to get a bit more interesting and convoys of spit roasted pigs were being carted on trolleys through the streets, around the back of a mysterious temple and up the hill behind the village. Curiosity took over so we simply joined the procession and followed everyone up the hill.

Turns out that we had arrived during the Ching Ming festival, where families visit the shrines dedicated to their ancestors and pay their respects. The atmosphere was very festive with fireworks and all. We stayed and watched for a while but must have left at the right time because as we were leaving firemen and paramedics were rushing up the hill. We doubted that it was because they were missing out on helpings of roast pig…

On our way out, we swung by a small private gallery exhibiting miniature dioramas of Hong Kong scenes. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos but it was a charming hidden gem, tucked into the rustic, coarse landscape.

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