Tai-O Fishing Village

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We arrived at Tai-O after a 20 min ride on Bus No 21 from Ngong Ping which costs HK$6.60; Walking from Tai-O’s Bus Terminus we got to Wing On Street. There is a 16km walking trail starting from Tung Chung to Tai-O which would take at least 6 hours. We met 2 young men whilst sharing a table for Bean-curd dessert, who just did the hike but would be catching the bus back.

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Glutinous Rice desserts filled with Coconut & Peanut fillings. Looks tempting but I did not buy any as my companions had gone way ahead.

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Many road side stalls like this one line the streets in this little township of Tai-O on Lantau Island. They peddle a wide variety of dried seafood like clam, shrimp, oyster, fish maw, scallop, sea cucumber, abalone, salted fish, shark-fin etc…

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Dried Fish Maw strung up.

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Dried Oysters neatly skewered; an unusual sight as most of them are sold piled up in a container or sack & are usually of a much darker colour… almost black!

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Gan Chăo Niú Hé – Fried Beef Hor Fun (Broad rice noodles). We stopped for lunch at Wah Kee Restaurant located at 35-37 Wing On Street. This Hongkong-style, no frills eatery was surprisingly full of customers. This Hor Fun looked a little pale but it turned out to have “wok hei” – Cantonese term for food that is cooked at high heat in a versatile, concave round-bottomed cast-iron cooking vessel which has a faintly burnt taste that is absolutely delicious.

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Xia Jiàng Chăo Fàn – This Shrimp Paste Fried Rice was flavourful & totally enjoyable but my stomach was a little queasy after that because it was too greasy. The portion was huge & I could only finish two-thirds of it.

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Spaghetti Bolognese – the sauce was sweet because they used tomato ketchup in it a little liberally. It is still edible though it is an adulteration of the Italian meat sauce & probably tastes like a Hongkong Chinese version with pieces of beef instead of minced beef.

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Zhu Pái Fàn – This Pork Cutlet Rice was nice. The cutlets were tender & the Gan Lán (Chinese Kale) was cooked but crunchy to the bite. The portion was large & it would certainly satisfy those with a hearty appetite.

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Fresh Catch of the day at Tai-O fishing village located on the north-western coast of Hongkong’s largest isles, Lantau Island. Popular for its fishing culture, you will find many live seafood restaurants dotting the island.

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This cute little blue drawbridge is manually operated & it spans a narrow creek that divides the town. A rope-drawn boat used to be operated here for 85 years to ferry passengers across until it was replaced by this drawbridge.

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After crossing the Blue Drawbridge, walk down Tai-O Market Street & turn left to get to the Tai-O Market. It makes a nicer visit during the week, where strolling the small alleys can be leisurely & contrasting to the hustle & bustle of downtown Hongkong. It gets very packed during weekends as Tai-O is a popular photography spot & crowds throng this place to ironically experience the laid-back lifestyle & enjoy the street food & snacks.

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A local product is this handmade Shrimp Paste by Sing Lee Shrimp Paste & Sauce Manufacturer that has been in business for over 80 years. The waters around Tai-O abound in Silver Shrimp & it became natural home to high quality shrimp paste & XO sauces. This flavour enhancing condiment is used in Cantonese cooking & East Asian dishes. My favourite would have to be Shrimp Paste Fried Chicken – “Har Cheong Gai” in Cantonese.

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Puffer Fish (lagocephalus sceleratus) stuck to a branch & turned into ‘Birds’ only in Tai-O souvenir. There are over 120 species of Puffer fish worldwide & they are also known as Blowfish, Toadfish or ‘Fugu’ in Japanese. Their habitat includes both tropical & sub-tropical waters & almost all pufferfish are lethal to other fish & humans. They range from pygmy 2.5cm to giant 61cm in length & have 4 teeth fused together in a beak-like form.

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When threatened, Puffer fish (Tetraodontidae) can inflate up to 2-3 times their actual size by sucking in air or water, bearing all their spines. The 2nd most venomous vertebrate in existence, Puffers contain a foul-tasting toxin called ‘Tetrodotoxin’ which can kill 30 adult humans & it is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide.

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Signage that gives you the general direction to all the interesting sightseeing spots to hit in Tai-O. In the face of modernity, the young people on the island prefer to live downtown & hold 9 to 5 jobs. The traditional fishing culture of Tai-O is gradually diminishing & efforts have been made to revitalize the village & focus on tourism.

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