I Spent a Day in a HIDDEN Beautiful Village in Hong Kong | 大澳 Tai O Vlog
Quiet on set! Something is mating behind me Today we're exploring Tai O! Also sometimes called 'The Venice of Asia' It's a fishing village where you'll find stilt houses, lots of food There not messing around with the portion sizes here A husband, if you want one, $30 only! That's a steal! and some of the most kind, hardworking, We'll work until we can't move resilient people. During 2000 this all burned down The fire started from the green one (home0 and then burned down for 6 hours A lot of hurt. It's been about 7 years since I last visited and I'm really excited to see what's changed, what's stayed the same, and just eat! I haven't eaten breakfast yet It's taken us over 2 hours to get here and I think I'm going to scarf down the first thing I see. Maybe not the first thing I see. And of course, I'm really excited to share this beautiful community with you guys. So, let's go! On the western side of Lantau Island sits Tai O.
One of Hong Kong's last standing fishing villages dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Tai O's residents have earned their living from the sea for decades through fishing, and in the past, salt production. This place was so prosperous that a police station was set up in 1902 to tackle the pirates that we're targeting the families that lived here. That station has now been turned into a Unesco Heritage Hotel since there are no pirates.
Although, I kind of look like I'm changing that. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can see pink dolphins in this area. This is where they live.
There used to be a lot of them sadly there isn't as many as before they're quite rare but we're on the lookout for them right now. We have arrived! It's looking very colourful! I was hoping for something less fishy and maybe more fruity. Do you have juice? What is this? Sweet and sour. Sweet and sour? Tea? Yes, tea. This is a local drink, very famous #1 is this one. It's a red leaf.
I later found out it was Mountain Begonia A bitter, sweet, herbal, sour drink that's supposed to release heat, detox, and quench your thirst. Almost like cranberry juice ya, a little bit sour, a little bit tart ooh, I like this! I don't know what it is, but I like it! Very tasty! I found it delicious! Awh, it's refreshing! Honestly, the perfect beverage for a hot day. Are you having the whole thing? mmhmmm With a little bit more energy we began walking in search of more food. One of the things Tai O is really popular for is shrimp paste. So you'll see bottle of shrimp paste everywhere and you'll see a lot of shrimp paste dishes.
And also a lot of dried products including seafood and egg yolks. You can buy husbands here for only $30 That's a steal! What is actually is- is this wrap It's a really popular local snack. Spouses, in general, seem to be a prevalent desire on this island but what I really wanted was some cool air. This is the first time in my life that I've ever had to use one of these I feel like a gentlemen! Would you like my handkerchief? We found air conditioning!! We've come to a restaurant called Fook Moon Lam to cool down, but also to eat.
It seems like it's really popular amongst locals. Excuse me, what would you recommend? What's most popular here? Shrimp paste, shrimp paste fried rice. Oh, I'm okay with a bad smell. I also have a bad smell right now. They're not messing around with the portion sizes here Thank you Wow! So it's got some lettuce, some corn, some shrimp, some egg, some carrots, some shrimp paste, and you can tell it's nicely fried, all of the grains are separated, not stuff together. Salty, savoury, a little bit of umami flavour from the shrimp.
The shrimp paste is very light, I don't think they put much but there's a little bit of an after flavour It's really nice! A little bit of chilli, to give a little bit of spice So good! Very very delicious! This temple behind me is a Grade II Historic Building and it is the oldest temple on Lantau Island. Originally constructed is 1488 Kwan Tai temple is dedicated to the Chinese God of War It's beautiful! Super detailed! For dessert we headed to Tai O bakery. A shop over 30 years old, run by a husband and wife, famous for it's Chinese sugar doughnut that many claim are the best in Hong Kong. Usually you have to line up for over 30 minutes to get a Tai O Bakery doughnut but since it's a weekday during the off season, we were able to get one rather quick. Like many people in Tai O, Mr and Mrs Wong and don't plan on changing that any time soon. Across the street from Tai O Bakery you'll find Fei Mao Li I'm meeting up with one of the founders, and local Tai O resident, Hiyuki.
One of the partners runs a cat shelter just next door. So that's why you'll see so many cats in this particular area. Your initiative is to bring more happiness, and preserve the culture, and create more art around the city, and attract more young energy to Tai O Ya you can say that. We just want to bring in some energy. At least outside on the streets and try to do different kinds of projects through different aspects, maybe painting, maybe making videos.
Cha duo, which literally translates to 'Tea Dumpling' is a traditional Hong Kong snack made from glutinous rice flour. I opted for a slightly different sticky rice snack called Tong But Lut, topped with fresh mangos It's kind of like a peanut butter jelly sandwich type thing The rice is like the bread, and then you have the peanu- the salty peanuts and then you have the sweet fruit so it's kind of that similar concept but a little bit more chewy the texture is really nice. Crunch and chewy. Can you please tell me a bit about the history of the stilt houses? So what happened was, people maybe 100 years ago they came here with their boat. Eventually they wanted to stabilise their own boat and they got the really strong hard wood and spanned it onto the seabed and lift up the boat, and it became the first style of stilt house.
The second generation housing saw granite being used to hold the boat in place, then the boat was built upon with wood, and fit with an arched roof made out of palm leaves. The modern day stilt houses are made out of a mixture of granite, wood, and metal sheets. Hiyuki took us to have a closer look at ones of the homes and we were immediately greeted by friendly neighbours offering chairs and cold drinks.
Thank you! Now we're in a low tide and you will see they are catching crabs Oh they're catching they're dinner Ya fish or, but this is for crab. Down the street we ran into the owner of Solo Cafe. This place is one part art and creative space and one part coffee and dessert shop. In the back you'll find an open terrace with views of the canal. So this is hazelnut, and this is milk. Cafe Latte! That's a family! All of these people live in those houses.
Yes maybe one single house inside, or if they own a boat, both sides Let the seniors take care of the children in the stilt house and take them to school. Others go fishing. Wow Timmy and his family live inland, but he said he wishes he owned a stilt house. Why don't you build your own stilt house? You can't build a stilt house because it's not allowed. Before the 1970s there was no contract at all but the Hong Kong government started to register every stilt house owner and also give them a contract They pay a land tax, very cheap maybe $10, in that day maybe several (US) dollars.
Nowadays also. So you can keep living but you can't sell it. So whoever has a house keeps it forever? For your generation One generation to another.
Also, you cannot really enlarge the size. If all of the family members pass away, what happens to the house? Empty like.. It becomes government land. Ya ya ya, like that house.
You see, it's still 2 levels (2nd generation style) That one is empty. Nobody can use that. So eventually if people, if not as many people have babies maybe less and less people will fill the houses and then will all this be empty one day? Yea. Uhh supposedly, but I guess That's we are trying to re-educate revitalize the Tai O people to revitalize You're trying to bring the young people back here to keep it going? Ya to keep this town going. Tai O had a devastating fire in the year 2000 During 2000 this all burned down.
The fire started from the green one and then burned down for 6 hours. The fire ball vroom We needed to pick it up (and throw it) Oh really? The fire came here and you picked it up?! Ya ya ya and put water... That incident was because of a gas stove I think somebody was probably just cooking and then it swarmed to another and another (home) This side is all brand new basically So these were burned down? Ya this side was also burned down (in a later fire in 2013) They needed to redo their house from the beginning again (nothing was left) So, a lot of hurt.
My friend is an artist, his name is Stanley Wong The fire burned all of his sketches This is his stilt house After it burned he kept his house in his memory and he painted it Wow, just by memory Ya ya ya ya He came back home. The fires have happened multiple times, the flooding has happened multiple times, why do people still want to stay here? Why are they so loyal to Tai O do you think? I think it is, for most of the villagers, Especially people in their mid-age or older, they have a childhood bond to this place They have a temple where their ancestors lay (to pay respects) People get to know each other, help each other, Better air, less pollution, the water tastes great from the mountain. Everything just becomes like, 'Life can be that simple.' Why did you want to start a coffee shop? Luckily we had this space to make a tea house first, but a neighbour suggested me to become a coffee shop because those days a lot of foreigners came to Hong Kong and visited Tai O and just that day I started a coffee business Oh really? I wasn't even a barista. So were you the first coffee shop in Tai O? For having a machine that can serve espresso-based coffee, we are the first one Ah, so western style coffee? Ya ya ya Before we didn't have the bridge to pass over the water This is a rectangular flat wooden sampan Wow, and then the string runs from this side to that side, and you just pull it Ya, right. This is some foreigner's (artwork) Wow so you just opened a space for people to be creative...
Or write down something What you feel today Can I write? Of course!! As the sun began to set, Hiyuki and I made our way down to the seaside to watch it. There we also found fishermen finishing up their day's work. The low tide made it perfect for collecting clams. You see? There's plenty! After the fishermen rinsed off and left, and Hiyuki also left to go back to work, we decided to stay and continue watching the sun as a very unexpected song started playing from one of the nearby homes. That was such a good day! I learned so much from the people I met.
Really amazing people here Very happy, very hardworking, a lot of older people work until they can no longer work but they enjoy it they enjoy the things they create they enjoy keeping the traditions and the life of this village going. and now some of the young people are coming in to keep it going and create something new I think a lot more is going to be happening here in this future I'm excited to see where it goes It's just such a unique place that is sort of half stuck in the past, like a lot hasn't changed but then a lot has changed at the same time and a lot can continue to change, there's a lot that can be done here But I also hope that it does stay the same kind of, because It's such a magical different place but you've got to really get into it you've got to talk to people you've got to try things, and then you can truly feel the essence of this village. Perfect mood music.
And now the finale. It's so quiet and dark at night. Most businesses have to close at 7pm Or they don't have to, but they choose to Especially right now because there aren't many tourists through the week.
Hiyuki said there's only 2 restaurants open at night to choose from One is a Thai and one is a Shanghainese. They're both open until 9pm. For dinner, our cold appetisers were wood ear mushrooms in vinegar, drunken chicken, and smashed cucumbers in sesame oil, garlic, and chilli. Our mains were fish maw and corn soup, as well as Hot and Sour soup with noodles again, both in a massive size. Starting off with some cold food! Mmmmm! I really love that one! You do! You get it every time Every time I see it I get it I love the texture It's bouncy and spicy It was a great day! I ate delectable local food, The Hazelnut Latte here is delicious! met friendly people, took in the scenic nature and fresher air, and learned more about the history and culture of Hong Kong's last standing fishing village If you like Tai O, then just enjoy this place and try to discover the authenticity, or the unique culture, and maybe the history, or even the animals. So people just be proud.
I always say you should be proud to be a Tai O person. I'm grateful to leave Tai O with a headful of stories from the past and present, and to have spent the day with local residents who love it deeply. I already can't wait to go back.