Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hong Kong Postcard Day 20 Tai O An Area of Renewal

It has been a busy week, a project deadline has kept me from blogging but I made sure to set aside some time to escape to China! We are in Hong Kong visiting Tai O, there has already been a few posts about this special little village but there was one last part of Tai O Peter wanted to see, so we made our way back towards town, down the windy path pictured below.Back into the neighborhood of tightly built residences where people lived so closely you could chat with your neighbor across the street without leaving your home.
The occasional open space was noticeable, as was the great variety of exterior materials and texture, be it pastel colored stucco or gradating tiles.
We followed Peter, who was looking for a specific area of Tai O, one that was going through some changes. The walkway led us to...
... an empty housing lot that was scattered with bricks and rumbles leftover from construction projects.
As we ventured further, we found some homes made of metal sheeting, it appeared newer developments were rising above the remains of the past.
A closer look revealed they were neatly structured with clean angular shapes and lots of windows.
Check out this one on the left with numerous tiny windows, I wondered what it would look like from the inside. My eyes were drawn to the adjoining rusty green residence, the paint poorly disguised its corroded walls.
In some way, the newer homes made a pleasant difference to this older part of Tai O, where houses were built on stilts right over the water.
As the camera wandered around capturing images, the sound of sawing in the distance caught my attention.
The camera zoomed in to find a husband working laboriously while his wife stood by, offering help only in a verbal manner.
Closer to us, a pile of construction materials left on the side, there was a kitchen sink, some scraps of wood and some rolls of roofing membrane.
Why was this part of Tai O going through a stage of renewal? Our observation returned to the development right before us, on the ground were strings that determined each lot, that was when we noticed the charred remains of the homes.
A fire broke out in the year 2000, about 90 stilt homes were destroyed, leaving many families homeless, a lot of the residents were elderly and poor. I was told the government was slow with the rebuilding process, there was talk of better housing designs with clean running water and sewage systems. It had been 7 years and there was still vacant lots waiting for reconstruction.
I looked on at the blackened remainder amongst the heaps of debris, what was once somebody's home that held all their belongings. I hope the government would complete the restoration that was badly needed for this area.
On the way back we noticed a fire extinguisher station, colored in bright red with bold Chinese characters that clearly spelled out its purpose, we questioned if this was there before and if it was used to stop the spread of fire in 2000.
The maze of walkways guided us back to the market, lining the fence on the bottom right were a network of pipes.
More pipes accompanied the path, this time there was more than one.
We came across this amazing trail that zigzagged marvelously, how would one construct a water pipe here?
The wooden path trailed off into the unknown distance, it was unfinished, a mirror image of the current government rebuilding project.
We walked on leaving the renewal zone, past the new homes made of metal. As I followed David and Peter, I thought about my visit to Tai O, it has been a very interesting afternoon, all the way from the pier to the museum, the dried food market was an eye-opening experience as was the search for lunch, I really enjoyed walking through the neighborhood where we found homes by the water and got a closer look at the lifestyle in this little fishing village. It is truly a special place, many thanks to Peter for suggesting it and guiding us around. Until next week, our China adventure continues!

1 comment:

  1. Truly a fascinating village, thank you for sharing this wonderful. I rather enjoyed the photo of the husband and wife. Very telling body language. Wishing you a good weekend.