Hong Kong has in some ways been a big switch up from Mainland China, but in other ways it is still very similar to the other big cities I’ve visited over the last month. The city of Tai O however was remote and quaint and a big switch up from the other towns that I’ve visited so far.
Before I jump right into Tai O, let me just tell you that the internet in Hong Kong is SO MUCH better than it was on the Mainland; sites aren’t block, service is faster, I’m not having to use a VPN to route my computer or phone. My hostel is in Lantau County on Hong Kong Island, and is very very remote, which has been a nice in some aspects but very rural. I have over 50 mosquito bites (and before you even question it… YES I am using loads of bug spray ((two types to be exact)) and I am still covered in bites) and as far as all the other bugs go, I’ve basically just had to get used to things crawling all over me, because there are bugs literally everywhere. Needless to say I’m kinda ready to be moving on over to the Philippines tomorrow 🙂
Back to Tai O – this small fishing village is known for its stilt houses, and it’s close proximity to Big Buddha, which is exactly what it sounds like, and is a large statue that was built in 1993 next to the Po Lin Monastery. This little town has been around since the 1700’s, and was at one point a smuggling inlet for people trying to flee from the People’s Republic of China following the Chinese Civil War which began in 1927 and is arguably still ongoing. The fishing village became a tourist attraction around the time that Big Buddha and the Ngong Ping Cable Cars started operating daily to bring the masses to the island. All in all though, the city is still pretty quaint relative to the other areas of China I’ve been in, and the tourism isn’t massive, making it a nice village to walk around and explore.
There is a pretty large market with so many different types of Seafood Dried and sprawled out. I had to test my olfactory ability to not gag or get queasy while walking through the town, as the smells were some of the most intense I’ve ever smelt; not being a big seafood person… this was a bit challenging.
Once I got past the touristy part of the town and explored back further into the village, it was another eye-opening day in the life of the Chinese. It is still amazing to me (and humbling) to see the conditions in which a large majority of the population lives. Piles of rubbish and garbage piled in front yards, abandoned buildings, no running water, and laundry hanging to dry right next to the little stands in which they are trying to sell crafts, snacks, souvenirs, anything they can to make some income. I saw women out digging in the marshes and inlets for clams, fish and seafood drying in racks in people’s living rooms, and what would be considered complete poverty in the United States, but is just the way of life for these villagers. Ignorance is Bliss was the only thing I truly kept thinking about as I walked through the streets, realizing how odd it must be for them to see people taking pictures of their homes and buildings, and how it must look or feel from their perspective.
China (and Hong Kong) have definitely been huge reminders of just how lucky and privileged we are to have everything that we have, and has been a really big eye opener to me of the whole “less is more” way of living which was already a philosophy I’ve been practicing for the last year or so, but has really been proven time and time again in this last month.
Tomorrow I head to Manila, and then I’ll be off to Coron, Palawan an island region for about a week, and I’m really looking forward to being in one place for a chunk of time! Some of my favorite photos from Tai O are below!