Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hong Kong: Lantau Island.

While Hong Kong proper lies on the hub of Hong Kong Island, the city spreads out over a series of islands and territories, including Kowloon and the New Territories to the north, Lantau Island to the west, and hundreds of smaller outlying islands.

On my second day in the city, Matt and I took the train to Lantau Island, which is suitably removed from the urban rush. Once there, we got on a cable car with panoramic views of the ocean and skyscrapers rising from land. As we neared Lantau Peak, the highest point on the island, however, a thick fog obscured our view entirely, and threatened to thwart our plan to see the crowning attraction of the island: the 35-meter-tall Tian Tan Buddha statue.

As expected, there was not much to see up top, even after climbing the long steps to the statue to get in front of the fog.

Much more interesting, however, was the Tai O fishing village, located on the western edge of the island. We started out perusing the markets, which had all kinds of intriguing goods from the ocean, from tiny dried shrimp to hanging salted squid and medicines made from fish parts.

We spent the next few hours walking along the waterfront through the village, passing houses on stilts, multi-colored boats, fish hung up to dry, and tiny housing complexes made of what looked like tin and framed with aging wood. Picturesque, to say the least.

To top off our day, we had a huge dinner at a seafood restaurant in the village: greens in a broth with dried seafood, scallops with celery, and shrimp with cashews - tender, not at all overcooked, and obviously straight from the sea. To have food from the ocean every day like this would be a dream indeed.

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