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Tai O and a beautiful soul

HONG KONG | Tuesday, 29 April 2014 | Views [85] | Scholarship Entry

Tai O, with the reputation of being ''the Venice of the East'', located on the south west of Lantau, the largest island in Hong Kong, appeared in front of me when the sun was setting. The sunshine veiled the surface of the sea as though the net had not been picked up. Tai O stands in contrast to the wealthy Hong Kong full of light from high buildings. Here Pang Uk houses are supported underneath by stone pillars hammered into the riverbed. People in Tai O love the environment, creating balconies for relaxing on, repairing their fishing nets as well as drying their fish and mooring their boats. Houses like butterfly wings, clinging around Shek Tsai To in the shape of a bow, range toward the sea.
I came across the Economic Development Project shop. Entering it I met this woman with the short hair style which is popular with middle-aged women in Hong Kong. She was Wong Wai King who welcomed me with a friendly smile. Her enthusiasm was like a drop stirring such a peaceful Tai O picture.
She told me in a slow voice about her over 20 years of discovering the 80-year history of Tai O from 1920 to 2000. Her fate was linked to Tai O when her parents took her there at the age of six months. She grew up with the simplicity of Tai O, working in the salt field, finding the wood in the hill with friends, participating in the open-air cinema, gathering with the old fishermen telling stories about pirates in the past. She got married and gave birth to children like the other women in this village. With tremendous passion for her home town, this ordinary woman spent years interviewing different people to collect these bits and pieces of information, crafting them into a smooth account of the transformation of Tai O over 80 years. She has contributed greatly to changing the image of Tai O from one associated with specialties of salted fish or shrimp paste into another mysterious and more attractive one.
She was saying in her moving voice, ''Tai O is beautiful in the past, present and will be beautiful in the future. My whole life belongs to this place. I would like to record its history.''
Saying goodbye to her, I headed for the gate of the village, silently walking past the ground tents where the fishermen worship the earth god for safety at sea. Sunset reminded me of the words in a song:Tai O is surrounded by mountains, mountain upon mountain.Day by day the clouds and the sun make them beautiful.The villagers worked hard for a living.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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