Marketing people really know how to make bullshit smell good — that’s what they’re paid for, and I should know, because I once worked in an advertising agency.
The marketing people for the Tourism Board of Hong Kong, however, must really have been scratching their heads when they had to sit down and figure out a good way to brand Tai O, an old fishing village built on the silty banks of a river with hundreds of old rusty stilt houses everywhere.
So, they decided to call it The Venice of the Orient.
“Hmmm… Doesn’t look like Venice to me!” my father said with a chuckle, when I took him there the other day to visit Tai O.
Tai O is actually an interesting place for a day trip, and a really unique little spot in Hong Kong. Located at the very end of the road in the most southern tip of Lantau island, it’s truly got its own little personality.
As you get off the bus, you walk through a lively little street market selling all kinds of local delicacies and a wide variety of dried seafood. There’s also a tiny local museum, which has a lot of interesting artifacts from Tai O’s history, and worth a peruse.
The stilt houses are all located in one area and it does feel a bit weird walking through these tiny wooden bridges that connect them all, because you can look straight into people’s living rooms and kitchens. I’m sure the locals in the area have gotten used to curious stares from tourists.
There isn’t much in terms of restaurants in Tai O but we found a little place that was open and had two big steaming bowls of wonton noodle soup, which is usually a safe bet if you don’t know how to read a menu. You can’t go wrong with noodles and wontons, right? Maybe not adventurous, but it does fill you up. Oh and a few cold beers help too.
There are two ways to get to Tai O — one is a bus from Tung Chung and one is a bus from Mui Wo. But if you have time, I recommend you to take a ferry from Tung Chung to Tai O, which is a really nice ride and more enjoyable than the long bus ride on the vomit-inducing South Lantau Road. The ferry is not that frequent so it’s probably best to take the ferry there and the bus back.