Tagged: Tai O

Tai O warns tourists to stay out of residential areas

The Tai O Rural Committee and local residents have asked visitors to stay away from residential areas of the popular tourist village.

The rural committee posted a notice on Friday requesting tourists not to enter residential areas, Oriental Daily reports.

Inhabitants of the historic stilt housing districts, including Yee Chung, Sham Chung, Sun Sha and Sha Chai Min, have posted similar notices.

However, Oriental Daily noted that many of the popular landmarks, such as the suspension bridge and local restaurants, were continuing to attract visitors, while some tourists said they had not encountered any obstructions.

Eddie Tse, head of the Tai O Sustainable Development Education Workshop, said the number of tourists to Tai O had increased in recent months.

He said that while the old stilt housing areas were some distance from the main street, they still attracted sightseers wanting to take photographs.

He said many of the local residents were elderly and vulnerable, and the narrow streets and closely-packed stilt homes could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. Local residents fear the entry and exit of outsiders will increase the risk of spreading the disease.

Govt to issue tenders for remote Lantau broadband

The Hong Kong government will issue tenders for the construction of fibre links to 45 Lantau villages – part of a new scheme to provide faster rural internet across Hong Kong.

Network operators will have to commit to building fibre connections to villages that will enable download speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

Within each village, residents will connect to the fibre backbone via the existing copper network using DSL technology. Currently PCCW’s combined fibre/DSL service offers downlinks of up 100Mbps.

The scheme to subsidise internet service was foreshadowed in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s policy address last October.

It is a major departure from the government’s longstanding policy of leaving the telecom industry solely to the commercial operators.

The city is near the top of the world broadband rankings, but 170,000 people have a home or small business internet with download speed of less than 10Mbps.

The plan to bridge the city’s digital divide will not happen quickly, however.

Telecom regulator Ofca says services won’t start rolling out until 2021 at the earliest.

It will start discussions on funding with the Legco IT and Broadcasting Panel next month, the regulator said in a paper to the Islands District Council.

But it does not say how much it will seek for the subsidised rollout.

Ofca says 67 villages in the Islands District qualify for the programme.

Under the tender structure, they will be combined into six different project areas. Operators will be asked to bid on the six projects.

They will be assessed on on the speed of rollout, system design, pricing and the funding required.

According to Ofca, fibre backbones reach all of South Lantau’s major villages except Tai O

But 32 villages on South Lantau and 13 in the Tung Chung area have no fibre connections and will qualify for the scheme. They are:

MUI WO: Man Kok Tsui, Ngau Kwu Long, Pak Mong, Tai Ho, Wang Tong, Tung Wan Tau

SOUTH LANTAU/PUI O: Mong Tung Wan, San Shek Wan, Shap Long, Tai Long Wan

TAI O: Fan Lau, Kit Hing Back St, Kit Hing St, Lower Keung Shan, Upper Keung Shan, Luk Wu, Leung Uk,Nam Tong Sun Tsuen, Ngong Ping, San Tau, Sha Lo Wan, Sham Shek, Shek Tsai Po (East & West), Tai Long Wan, Tai O Outskirts, Tai O, Yi O

TUNG CHUNG: Chek Lap Kok New Village, Lam Che, Nim Yuen, Ma Wan New Village, Ma Wan Chung, Mok Ka, Ngau Au Village, Pa Mei, Shek Lau Po, Sheung Ling Pei, Tai Po, Tei Tung Tsai, Wong Nai Uk

Ching Ming fires break out across Lantau

The onset of the annual Ching Ming Festival has brought a brace of hillfires across Hong Kong, including three so far in Lantau.

With the fire danger level at its highest – red – yesterday, 25 fires broke out across the city, according to Sing Tao.

A blaze destroyed the side of a hill near Pak Mong in North Lantau at 2pm, while another fire broke out near Tai O’s Fu Shan, estimated at more than 100 square metres.

Fire services officets extinguished both fires. There were no injuries.

Wang Tong hillside Sunday afternoon (Credit: Karen Brown)

Another blaze broke out at Wang Tong, Mui Wo, early this afternoon. The fire department is attending the scene.

Today’s fire danger is set at yellow, indicating high risk.

The fires are a hazard of Ching Ming, when Chinese families visit their ancestors’ graves and light incense to remember them. The holiday falls on April 5 this year.

Photo (top): Pak Mong fire yesterday (Credit: Steve Knipp)

Green group highlights climate change threat to Tai O

A local environmental group, Carbon Care InnoLab, is planning to hold a Tai O hike and fundraiser to raise awareness of the climate change threat to the low-lying village.

The group is inviting the public to join a 7km hike on the Lantau Trail above Tai O, passing Lung Tsai Ng Yuen and down to the coast,.

Carbon Care InnoLab co-founder Chong Chen Yau said climate change will bring about extreme weather events, fiercer typhoons and heavier rainfall.

He notes that when Typhoon Hagupit struck in 2008, Tai O was flooded, isolated from the rest of Hong Kong and its power cut off.

Changes in water levels and salinity will also threaten the ecology of the seaside and threaten mangrove forests and their ability to withstand typhoons.

In Tai O the group will set up an educational station to share information on the impact of flooding and landslides, and on environmental conservation and local fisheries.

Details of the March 18 event here.

Photo (top): Emergency services training drill, Tai O, last August

Tai O transport: cable car out, water taxi in

The government has abandoned a plan to extend the Ngong Ping cable car to Tai O, but is now considering a water taxi service between Tai O and Tung Chung.

In an interview with Sing Tao Daily, Robin Lee, director of the Sustainable Lantau Office, said improving the capacity of Lantau’s tranasport network was one of its priorities.

He says the government has dropped the proposal to extend Ngong Ping 360 down to Tai O, acknowledging the strength of public opposition as well as financial issues.

The plan of running the cable car through the Tai O valley – mostly Country Park, and including numerous religious retreats – stirred public opposition and was never fully embraced by the Ngong Ping 360 operating company.

However, Lee said the newly-established SLO, a bureau within the Civil Engineering and Development Department, hopes to improve Tai O’s external transport links with a water taxi service to Tung Chung.

The vessels would have a high carrying capacity and a flat bottom, seen in cities such as Paris and Bangkok, to enable them to pick up passengers from Tung Chung and enter Tai O River.

Currently the Fortune Ferry service operates between Tai O, Tung Chung and Tuen Mun. It runs to Tai O just four times a day on weekdays and a dozen times on Saturday and Sunday.

Lee said he was in discussions with the Transport Department to see if the frequency could be increased.

“In the past the concern has been that if the passenger volumes are too unpredictable, it will be difficult to find a company that will operate it on a long-term basis,” he told Sing Tao. He would shortly meet with the industry to discuss how to make the service viable.

Lee promised that “unlike the planning strategies of the past,” Lantau transport infrastructure would be developed in a way that avoided disturbing traditional lifestyles and the natural environment.

Photo: Water taxi, Bangkok

Rural bosses seek solar incentives for villages

Hong Kong rural leaders are calling for incentives to encourage villagers to install solar equipment on their rooftops.

Junius Ho, a Legco member and Tuen Mun village chief, has called on the government to provide tax concessions and an easing on village housing restrictions.

The Heung Yee Kuk, the peak body of rural committees, has also begun a campaign for solar energy concessions, scmp.com reports.

Ho, whose New Territories West constituency covers Lantau, told scmp.com that rooftops of small houses were “ideal” for solar panels.

He says the the government should offer incentives to villagers, “like land rent or property rates waivers” as well as exemption from rooftop building regulations that might be regarded as illegal structures.

For example, it is currently illegal to place anything on the roof of the stair-housing, which is a natural site for a solar system.

Ho and the kuk are arguing that the expanded use of solar power can help the city reach its carbon emission target.

At present, Hong Kong gets 48% of its energy from coal, 27% from natural gas and the remaining 25 per cent from a combination of nuclear and renewables. The aim is to cut carbon emissions from 6.2 tonnes per capita in 2014 to below 4.5 tonnes by 2020 and eventually to as low as 3.3 tonnes, according to scmp.com.

Hong Kong lags behind its neighbours in its use of solar energy, which is widely deployed across China, Singapore, South Korea and Australia.

But one expert warns of a political backlash if the government gives preferential treatment just to indigenous villagers.

“It could be politically sensitive,” said Daphne Mah, director of the Asian Energy Studies Centre at Baptist University.

“Some non-indigenous villagers may think it is a double benefit because the indigenous villagers have already been allowed free land to build a house of their own.”

WWF HK last year ran a pilot project in Tai O (above) to show that 25 sq metres of solar panels could supply half of the power required by a four-member household. The system cost HK$87,500.

The group believes solar energy can meet more than 10% of the city’s energy needs.

Islands District vice-chairman Randy Yu backed the trial and also called for government support.

“Incentives like capital subsidies and providing technical support for rooftop solar installations can drive installation capacity in small-scale housing estates in the Islands district and in rural areas.

CEDD studying light rail link to Tai O

The government is exploring the feasibility of building a light rail to Tai O, part of a wider study into Lantau transport networks.

Development Secretary Michael Wong told reporters yesterday that CEDD had hired a consultant to review Lantau’s internal transport links and its connections to the rest of Hong Kong.

He said the consultant was examining the potential for a light rail along the coastal route from Tung Chung to Tai O.

The seaside village currently has just a single road connection, parts of which are barely wide enough for buses to pass. The journey to Tung Chung takes 45 minutes.

Local rural leaders have repeatedly called for an upgrade of the existing road and for a direct road connection to Tung Chung. The coastal road has been rejected on environmental and heritage grounds.


MTR light rail, Tuen Mun (Wiki Commons)

Transport panel chairman and former Kowloon-Canton Railway chairman Michael Tien last year proposed the idea of a light rail around Tung Chung, the airport and the Macau bridge, arguing it would take just 15 minutes to make the trip.

He told Sing Tao newspaper that in principle he supported extending it to Tai O but was wary of the cost, estimating that his original proposal would cost HK$15 billion.

He said because the light rail runs on overhead lines it has a light environmental footprint.

Wong did not elaborate on what other changes the government would make to Lantau’s transport connections. He said the consultancy would complete its study in 2019.

Photo (top): Sha Lo Wan on Lantau’s north coast

Tai O stars in new Christopher Doyle movie

The old-school charm of Tai O is the backdrop for the latest work from award-winning local film-maker Christopher Doyle.

Australian-born Doyle is famous for his stylish cinematography in Wong Ka-wai movies such as In the Mood for Love and 2046.

His new film, The White Girl (白色女孩),  is co-directed with Jenny Suen, his partner on the well-received Hong Kong Trilogy, a docu-movie in part about Occupy.

The plot is best described as arthouse. A young woman (Angela Yuen) in Hong Kong’s last fishing village is allergic to the sun. Because of this, or perhaps some other reason, she goes out at night in pants and vest.

She meets a Japanese man, like her an outsider. As IMDB explains:

This is a love story, but Sakamoto and The White Girl are not lovers. So what happens between them? They look at each other. He becomes her mirror. She becomes his. That’s what love is: through another they see themselves, reflected, as the imperfect mess that human beings often are.

OK, so not quite up to the standard we’ve come to expect from the Lantau cinema standard set by the likes of Andy Lau and Jean Claude Van Damme.

But there is a sub-plot about greedy mainland developers that may resonate with local viewers.

It premieres on December 14, The White Girl Facebook page advises, though it is not listed at any local cinema.

That may be due to the tepid reviews, like this one from Screen Daily:

The Doyle name, and the legacy of his work with Wong Kar-wai, should ensure further festival bookings and perhaps minor VOD interest. However, it is too willfully obtuse and self-conscious to travel theatrically far beyond its domestic market.

It hasn’t been rated on Rotten Tomatoes or mainland movie site Douban and has earned just 4.8 stars (out of 10) on IMDB.com.

An unpropitious start, but enough to win admission to the Lantau Movie Hall of Fame.

UPDATE December 22:  scmp.com ranked it 44th out of the 45 Hong Kong movies released in 2017.

Govt to strengthen Tai O flood defences after Hato breach

The government is planning to strengthen flood control in Tai  O following complaints that a recently-installed embankment did not keep out storm surges.

The village was flooded by Typhoon Hato in August, despite the presence of a 220-metre long wall  built four years ago at cost of $150 million, prompting criticism from villagers and local leaders.

Drainage Services Department director Edwin Tong said last week the department would install a temporary flood-control flap that would increase the height of the embankment from 3.3 metres to 3.8 metres, Ming Pao reported.

He said a review showed that the embankment wasn’t high enough and that it had taken too long to move sandbags and install floodgates at Wing On and Tai Ping streets.

The temporary flap could be quickly erected as a typhoon approached, he said.

Typhoon Hato brought one of Hong Kong’s biggest ever storm surges, reaching a peak of 3.57 meters, second only to Typhoon Wanda in 1962, in which the water level reached 3.96 metres.


Photo (top): Government flood drill, Tai O, July 2017

Tai O’s 300-year-old Yeung Hau Temple declared a monument

Yeung Hau Temple in Tai O, one of Lantau’s oldest buildings, has been declared a monument.

The temple, originally built in 1699, is one of a number of Hau Wong temples across Hong Kong and southern China, most of which honour Yeung Leung-jit (楊亮節) a courtier celebrated for his loyalty in staying by the side of the young Song emperor as he fled the advancing Mongol forces in the 1270s.

However, the Chinese Temples Committee notes that the Tai O temple may also have been named after a local villager called Yeung who cured the emperor of an illness.

The temple, which contains a cast-iron bell struck in 1699, was extensively renovated in 1827, 1877 and 1988.

By ‘declaring’ a site, the Antiquities Office is empowered to prevent or limit alterations. The authority website explains:

The temple is one of the oldest temples in Tai O and has long been patronised not only by fishing folk and fisheries merchants in Tai O, but also by merchants from the neighbouring places and the Qing soldiers along the coast. The temple is also popular for its strong association with the Tai O dragon boat water parade, which is a traditional festive event with a history of over 100 years and was inscribed onto the third national list of intangible cultural heritage of China in 2011.

Built on the northern edge of Tai O the temple sits today just a few hundred metres away from the Hong Kong-Macau Bridge.

Hong Kong has 117 declared monuments, including six on Lantau Island (map).  The other Lantau sites are: Shek Pik Rock Carving,Tung Chung Fort, Fan Lau Fort, Fan Lau Stone Circle, and Tung Chung Battery.