ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “fishing

HONG KONG’S SOUTHERNMOST POINT, Po Toi Island (蒲台島), Hong Kong

While remote Fan Lau (分流) is the westernmost village in Hong Kong, Po Toi Island (蒲台島) is its counterpart at the southernmost point of the territory.  From 2000 inhabitants in the 1950’s down to about 10 today, like many rural communities in the city, Po Toi Island has gone through a rapid decline in population in the modern era.  The remote island with a population of merely 10 would become lively during weekends when a few boat loads of visitors arrive at the dock.  Beautiful granite formations, ancient stone carving, a lone lighthouse, a few simple houses, several fishing boats and nets, and racks of drying seafood and seaweeds, Po Toi Island is a peaceful getaway less than an hour ferry from either Aberdeen (香港仔) or Stanley (赤柱).  A day before Chinese New Year in a fine Sunday morning, we decided to take the 8:15 ferry, the only scheduled departure of the day, from Aberdeen to Po Toi.

DSC_9237There are either one to two ferries on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from Aberdeen going to Po Toi Island.  On Sunday, there are more Po Toi bound ferries departing from Stanley.  For us, we opted for Aberdeen because of the unique scenery of its famous typhoon shelter, the home of Aberdeen Floating Village (香港仔水上人家).  There were once over 6000 inhabitants living on the boats in Aberdeen, one of the most significant port in Hong Kong since the 19th century.

DSC_9268Today there are still a number of boat villagers staying, and so as their fleet of fishing boats, seafood stalls, floating restaurants, and the seafood wholesale business, etc.  At 7:30am on a Chinese New Year’s Eve, local residents were busy shopping for seafood from the fishermen at Aberdeen Waterfront Promenade.  On such an important day of the year, their seafood would be sold out in less than an hour.

DSC_9296Decorations for the Chinese New Year could be seen at piers and boats along the promenade.

DSC_9329Under the soft morning sun, colourful boats of all sizes crisscrossed the waterways among the boats parked between Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau Island.  The Ap Lei Chau Island sheltered Aberdeen from the wind and waves of the open sea, making Aberdeen Channel one of the best typhoon shelter in Hong Kong.

DSC_9346Despite most fishermen have moved onto apartments in Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau, the scenery of Aberdeen is still dominated the channel and typhoon shelter.

DSC_9397The open waterway in the middle of Aberdeen Channel was like a water highway to us.

DSC_9404Our ferry also passed by one of the famous floating seafood restaurants in Aberdeen.

DSC_9433And we also passed by the Ocean Park, the iconic ocean-themed amusement park and aquarium.

DSC_9435From a distance, we also recognized the beautiful Repulse Bay.

DSC_9453Our ferry finally docked at Po Toi’s pier at Tai Wan (大灣).  There weren’t that many visitors around.  We only shared the island with a handful of tourists and the remaining Po Toi inhabitants.

DSC_9473Po Toi remains as a remote, sleepy and simple fishing village.  From the pier, we walked for a few minutes to reach the main beach in the middle of Tai Wan (大灣).  There was a seafood restaurant called Ming Kee, probably the only seafood restaurant on the island.

DSC_9480Dried seafood (fish, squid, and even octopus) were common sights.

DSC_9481There were racks on the main beach Tai Wan (大灣) where villagers dried their fishing nets and other fishing equipment.

DSC_9490Some houses on Po Toi were colourfully painted, presenting a great match to the bright blue sky.

DSC_9518On the other end of Tai Wan (大灣) stood an old Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the sea goddess of Tin Hau for protecting the fishermen at the sea.

DSC_9506Inside the temple, we saw a number of decorations related to the fishing culture of Po Toi, such as the wooden model of a dragon boat.

DSC_9578Adjacent to the Tin Hau Temple, we followed the metal chain up the granite hill to start our day hike.

DSC_9575On two thirds the way up we could clearly see the magnificent scenery of Tai Wan (大灣) and the public pier below.

DSC_9690Looking south we saw Lighthouse no. 126 and the southern tip of the island.

DSC_9724We leisurely walked down the hill in the direction of the lighthouse.

DSC_9741On our way we passed by some graves facing the sea, quite a scenic resting place for the departed.

DSC_9755Atop another hill we encountered a well known attraction on Po Toi.  Known as the Monk Rock, this rock formation resembled a Buddhist monk when viewed from afar.

DSC_9758A few tents were set up near Lighthouse No. 126.  Po Toi is a popular spot for camping.  Far from the city’s light pollution, those who brave for the night here get a chance to admire and photographing the starry night sky.

DSC_9778We finally reached the No. 126 Lighthouse, a simple white washed structure perched on top of granite rocks, overlooking the southern shore and the vast South China Sea.

DSC_9786Reaching the No. 126 Lighthouse at the southernmost point of Hong Kong overlooking the boundless water in a day of very fine weather was emotional and satisfying.

DSC_9814We then moved on to the real southern tip of the island.  The South China Sea looked surprisingly busy with cargo ships.

DSC_9863Heading back towards the pier, we reached another attraction of Po Toi, the interesting rock formation with large vertical stone strips known as the Buddhist Palm.

DSC_9866More graves appeared as we walked closer to the village.  Like grey boulders, the tombstones looked quite blended in with the overall natural setting.

DSC_9889There are a number of ancient stone carvings in Hong Kong and its outlying islands.  There is a mysterious one on Po Toi, simply known as Po Toi Island Stone Carvings (蒲台島石刻).

DSC_9903Back to the village, we decided to sit down at Ming Kee (明記海鮮酒家), the only seafood restaurant on the island.

DSC_9906We just ordered their set lunch with shrimps, squid, small abalone, sweet and sour pork and stir fry vegetables.

DSC_9925After lunch, we wandered along the beach at Tai Wan (大灣).

DSC_9960Po Toi is the most famous spot in Hong Kong for seaweed and kelp.  We could clearly see the seaweed above the water.

DSC_0001There were drying kelp and seaweed allover the tiny village.  We couldn’t resist but bought a few packs.

DSC_0007A dog lying beside the rack as if guarding the drying kelp.

DSC_0018Before leaving the island, we sat down at one of the simple snack shops and ordered the kelp and green bean soup (海帶綠豆沙), a sweet delight full of aroma of seaweed and herbs that every visitor should try a bowl.

 


Day 8 – KII KATSUURA, Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) 2 of 2, Japan

Before our train journey back to Osaka, we spent some time wandering around Kii Katsuura (紀伊勝浦), a fishing town about 25-minute bus ride from Nachisan. From the train/bus station, we walked through a covered arcade to reach the waterfront market near the main pier. Most shops in the arcade were closed except several souvenir shops selling local souvenir such as the Nachi black candies, binchotan-zumi (a traditional Japanese charcoal) and Kii mandarins. The fishing market was closed in the afternoon. Attracted by the catch-of-the-day live display, we stopped by a local seafood store/eatery and had a delightful seafood lunch which included grilled abalone and assorted local shellfishes, miso soup with lobster meat and squid sashimi. After a satisfying meal, we strolled further out to the pier and had some relaxing moments under the afternoon sun and the refreshing sea breeze. Such pleasant afternoon provided us a perfect closure to our Kumano Kodo experience in the Kii peninsula of the Wakayama Prefecture.

01The town seemed sleepy as many stores at the waterfront market were closed in the afternoon. But in early morning, the market would present a completely different scene when fishing boats returned to the pier with loads of catches. There were some souvenir shops opened for business near the bus/train station, in the covered shopping arcade that connected the waterfront market with the train station.

02There were many restaurants in town but we found this simple corner seafood shop quite interesting. It is a fishmonger doubled as a seafood restaurant.

03Display of catches-of-the-day at the storefront attracted much attention of passersby.

04Sun-drying squids at the storefront.

05Inside the store at the far end, there was a seafood eatery with a few tables. We were given a Japanese menu and we ordered a few tapas-like dishes such as this grilled abalone topped with butter sauce.

06Grilled assorted shellfishes.

07Along the shore, fishermen were drying seaweed under the sun, adding a fresh and aromatic scent to the sea breeze.

08Each day, dozens of tour boats would venture out into the sea for sightseeing, as well as dolphin and whale watching.

09A group of eagles gathered at the pier probably looking for some “quick snacks” at the coastal water.

10We walked out to the furthest pier and could see the Kii Mountain Range behind the town of Kii Katsuura.

11There are a number of mega resort hotels along the shore of Kii Katsuura. Some of which can only be accessed by boat. Parking at the front of this huge resort hotel was a passenger boat which transported hotel guests between the hotel and the main pier. Every time when the passenger boat arrived at the hotel, music would be played which could be heard miles away.

12Many locals were trying their luck along the shore.

13Fishing boats near the main pier.

14Even the floor tiles at the pier reminded us that fishing was the dominating industry in the region.

15It was a scenic train ride along the coastline of the Kii Peninsula enroute to Osaka. The whole trip took about 3 hours and 40 minutes.

* * *

Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka


TAI O, Fishing Village on Lantau Island, Hong Kong – Part 2

A popular 2.5 hour hike on Lantau Island brought us back to Tai O again.  This time, we started our hike from Tung Chung (東涌), across Tung Chung Bay from the busy International Airport of Hong Kong. The Tung-O Trail winds through the northwest coastline of Lantau Island, overlooking the water of Pearl River Mouth where the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is still ongoing.  We reached Tai O in late afternoon when sunlight cast an orange glow on everything from drying shrimp paste to mangrove bushes. DSC_5009Descending airplane above the Pearl River Mouth was a common sight happened every few minutes along the Tung-O Trail. 1Construction work of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is visible throughout the first part of the hike. Part of the 50km network of tunnels and bridges that will ultimately connect the three cities, work on the Hong Kong section has been falling behind schedule. 2aRoof detail of a small shrine near Tai O. 3a Flowers and wooden terraces overlooking the water welcomed us as we arrived at Hong Kong’s most famous fishing village Tai O once again. 4Dried fish is a local favorite and a popular souvenir for visitors. 5Dried lime and tangerine skins are handy for a number of uses in Chinese cuisine. 6Western herbs such as rosemary also made their way into some villagers’ garden terraces in Tai O. 7But the most iconic product from Tai O is undoubtedly shrimp paste. 8For generations, the shrimp paste industry had been providing a rich source of income for the fishermen in Tai O. 9Drying shrimp paste bricks 10 However, the industry of Tai O shrimp paste manufacturing has been shrinking rapidly in recent years, from 10 factories in the 1960s down to 2 remaining today. 11 Since banning trawling fishing in Hong Kong, much of the shrimp fishing industry has shifted to other coastal cities in Guangdong. As a result, the majority of the shrimp paste industry has been moved to China as well. 12In most occasions, buckets of shrimp paste from China are shipped back to Tai O for the final process of the production. 13Incoming tide and the mangrove trees 14A fire broke out in 2000 burnt down a large number of the original timber stilt houses. New stilt houses have been rebuilt using metal sheets. 15Despite the recent decade’s of transformations, the sleepy ambiance of Tai O remains unchanged, especially in comparison to the intense urbanity of many other places in Hong Kong.

> Link to   TAI O, Hong Kong Part 1


TAI O, Fishing Village on Lantau Island, Hong Kong – Part 1

Remotely situated at the west side of Lautau Island, Tai O is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hong Kong. Despite touristy, Tai O’s iconic stilt houses, shrimp paste factories, pristine wetlands, and its sense of rural community remind us of what Hong Kong used to look like a few centuries ago where the territory’s coastline was dotted with numerous fishing villages. Located at a coastal wetland where shrimps, mudskippers and mangrove forests once ruled, Tai O reveals a delicate balance among humans, coastal wildlife and the mangrove forests. Unfortunately, due to urban development, much of Hong Kong’s precious wetlands are either in danger or completely gone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A short walk from Tai O is the village of Yi O, where farmers reintroduce rice paddies and other organic farming back to Lautau Island a few years ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Between Tai O and Yi O, there are a series of coastal wetlands and pebble beaches open to the mouth of Pearl River.

3 In Tai O, shrimp paste and dried seafood still dominate the souvenir shopping list for many visitors.

4 Without the presence of chain stores and large supermarkets, each local store in Tai O still possesses a distinctive character along the main shopping street – Kat Hing Street.

5 Spontaneous art brut can be found throughout Tai O.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Among the various street food options on Kat Hing Street, traditional charcoal grilled egg waffle is definitely one of the most popular.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Apart from egg waffle, grilled squid is equally tempting.

8 Opposite from their street entrances, many eateries in Tai O have back patios overlooking one of the many canals in the village.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Many villagers remain in Tai O spend much of their lives in the village.

10 Metal sheds of various sorts can be found throughout Tai O, especially after the fire of 2000 when a great number of original timber stilt houses were destroyed.

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> Link to  Tai O, Hong Kong Part 2