Introducing Tai O, Hong Kong to Kristen from Kristen Abroad
There are many fears that people have when they think of becoming an expat. One big one is ‘Will I make friends?’ The truth is… it’s up to you. It can actually be extremely easy to make friends if you open yourself up to it because we’re all in the same expat boat! Add in being a blogger and the community just gets bigger! That’s how I befriended Kristen from the travel blog, Kristen Abroad.
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In a Facebook group for bloggers, Kristen and I ran across each other in a thread. I don’t even remember what it was about, to be honest. She told me she was coming to Hong Kong and so we struck up a conversation about the trip, blogging, and being an expat. So, of course, I had to get her to come to my neck of the woods to visit the traditional and authentic fishing village of Tai O!
Meeting for the first time
You’d think that since I’ve met a few of my good friends and my husband all online that I’d be a pro at this. But the truth is I was still so awkward and nervous! I mean what is the proper protocol when you first actually meet someone, but you have already talked a bit online? Luckily my fears were unfounded. Kristen and her friend Nate were so friendly and open that that nervousness soon vanished.
We met at about 10:30 am. Which was still early for things to begin opening in Hong Kong. But perfect for beginning the South Lantau tour before it became overcrowded. It was a beautiful day for it. The sun was shining (I have the sunburn to prove it lol!) and it felt like early summer. Cool in the shade with the sea breeze, but warm in the sun. Seriously though, where did winter go?
The Tai O experience:
As we walked through the just waking village shops. Passing local dried fish stalls and mochi vendors. Our first stop had to be at our favorite street vendor. It’s literally right next to another mochi vendor and across from some meat on a stick, in case you come on your own and try to find it lol. But I love the ladies at this stall. They recognize us and ask how Boogie is and where he is because they love to give him little treats. Even without the baby with us, she gave us all samples of a freshly made egg waffle, a first for Kristen and Nate. I have to say I was impressed with Kristen as she chose some red bean barley water to quench her thirst. Not many expats, myself and my husband included, enjoy the red bean desserts and drinks they make here in Asia!
We continued on, walking along the narrow “streets” of Tai O, pointing out some landmarks or favorite places as we went. While we do love our little village, we also had to be honest about the disturbing aspects too…
The shark fin trade.
As you walk through Tai O you will see lots of shops selling these dried foods, and some are extremely expensive. We’re talking over a thousand USD per pound. And it’s just hanging up for sale outside. This is the shark fin trade. In one shop they even proudly display the skin of a shark on their wall. It’s hard to convince people to stop contributing to such a horrible act when they just see it as tradition… and one sale could be equivalent to a whole month’s salary.
Luckily, that isn’t the only thing Tai O is known for. We have beautiful views, a Shaolin cultural center, temples, a cat cafe, Tai O donuts, and of course the boat ride to see the stilt houses and pink dolphins. And if you’re lucky there may even be a Shaolin exhibition and actual pink dolphins when you go, we weren’t so lucky lol.
All in all, it takes a couple of hours to walk around the main areas. We used that time to get to know each other more and to compare what it’s like for an American living in Japan (where they are) to us living in Hong Kong. So many similarities, but also so many differences!
I’m really glad we were able to get together. And that they were able to see a side of Hong Kong that many westerners miss because it’s so off the beaten track. Plus, I was able to give her some inside tricks to beat the crowds and be able to do more in one day! Hopefully one day we’ll head to Japan and she’ll still be there to tour us around her home of Tokyo!