Alternative Metropolis: Journey into Tai O, Ka Haang (Julie) Ng

Alternative Metropolis: Journey into Tai O is a series about Tai O, an important historic fishing village that is a rarity in Hong Kong today. There are many unique traits to the Tai O Village, from the river channels to its traditional stilt houses, lively market and fishing industry. With this series of photographs, I have rediscovered the fishing village’s history and present, and the ways in which this village has contributed to making Hong Kong the city it is today. The book is divided into three chapters: “Entering,” “Market,” and “Life by the Water,” a transition that resembles the structure of the village itself. There are many traditional customs being practiced and local food that can only be found in Tai O. The village was once popular due to the rise of traditional industries like salted fish and shrimp, which made it an essential part of the city. However, these industries began to decline in the 1980s due to marine pollution, construction and reclamation. Moreover, the isolation and lack of jobs keep the town from growing. Many young people prefer to live in the city and find a stable job instead of fishing to support the family. Fishing was the primary industry of the village, but now tourism may become its new industry. Local residents fish mainly for their subsistence or enjoyment. They sell their catch of the day and other dried seafood to tourists. This series is meant to show how important it is to understand a city’s history while it is still here and explore the smaller parts that make up the greater whole. The village is an icon of public memory in relation to fishing villages in Hong Kong.

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