On the surface it looks like a very traditional Chinese village, mostly untouched by Western influences but it is very much geared towards the hordes of tourists who visit every week. Rumour has it that a local film or soap opera was filmed there and that alone brings a lot of people to the village! Tai O is about 45 minutes by bus from Mui Wo and Tung Chung. There are a number of fantastic hikes down into the village from a few points on the island. It's also a 20 minute drive from where we live, so we drove, but parking is pretty limited. You could also charter a sampan and arrive in style!
Our first priority was lunch. While we drawn to some of the local restaurants offering fresh fish and local delicacies, with two kids in tow we weren't as intrepid as we could've been and when we stumbled across Melt, a western style cafe with a very kid-friendly menu, we sat right down. The boys split a sausage sandwich and an apple juice and we shared a plate of nachos and lime sodas. If we didn't live here we'd feel a little guilty not indulging in local food, but since it's an option all the time we didn't feel so bad! Melt was clean and fresh and the food was just what we needed. It's located next to some pretty cool little cafes and local shops selling food. The Chinese pizza, directly opposite Melt looks delicious, and if the queue was anything to go by, worth a trip to Tai O! The Tai O Bakery sells delicious egg tarts and Chinese donuts, local delights we simply couldn't pass up.
Tai O Heritage Hotel. Built in 1902 as a police post, the building was restored and turned into a boutique hotel and granted heritage listing in 2009. We haven't had a chance to visit the hotel, or its famed glass-roofed restaurant, The Rooftop, but we will be making a special trip back for dinner soon. It's only accessible by boat, and is yet another glimpse into a different time and place.
Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge rising out of the sea mere kilometres away, threatening to destroy the dolphin's habitat. Then suddenly we saw a disturbance in the water, a splash and flash of silvery white in the distance. All ten of us onboard gasped in delight, and again when one of the dolphins leapt out of the water, putting on a show just for us. We saw 2 of them playing and one rose out of the water a couple of times, quite close by. It's impossible to take photos as they move so fast but I felt like I was watching something very special. The boat ride costs $20HKD for 20 minutes and Charlie rode for free. Some operators also guarantee that if you don't see a dolphin you'll get a ticket for a free ride next time.
We had a fantastic day but we did get a little sunburnt. Despite the weather being wet and grey in Cheung Sha, it was sunny and clear in Tai O, so my advice for anyone planning a visit is go prepared for all seasons! All in all it was a great day out, and were home having a cup of tea by 3pm. Rediscovering the place we call home is off to a very good start!