Little Venice

Posted in : Cover story, Life On Lantau Articles on by : Around DB , , , Comments: 0

Reporting by Samantha Wong
Photos by Duey Tam & Debby Meyers

Tai O is mostly inhabited by Tankas or boat people – a nomadic southern Chinese ethnic group who first settled there over two centuries ago, having previously lived on junks in the South China Sea. Though many now live onshore in stilt houses, some of the older ‘sea gypsies’ still live on their boats. People flock to Tai O, and the so-called ‘Little Venice,’ to soak up the maritime heritage and fishing lore.

At the height of the salt production and fishing industry, Tai O was home to some 30,000 people. Today, the population has shrunk to less than 2,000 and a devastating fire in 2000 destroyed many – but not all – of the historic stilt houses.

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