Tai O Village used to be a thriving fishing community on the western side of Lantau Island. Previously known as Tanka because the Tankas – the boat people – are an ethnic group who lived on junks in the coastal areas of Southern China. The stilt houses on the water are still the main attraction and the reason why tourist keep coming. Personally I find Tai O’s older history and exotic past the most fascinating. It was once a port of many illegal activities from smuggling guns to drugs and trafficking of people from and to mainland China. That was during the turbulent years of the occupation by the Portuguese in the 1730’s but continued after the Brits invaded and during the Chinese Civil War. If that was not enough, a massive fire in 2000 spread through the village and destroyed a large part of the stilt housing community. It is a very impressive resume for a tiny coastal village. But, before you get the wrong impression of Tai O, things have moved on over here. The wild days of smuggling are over and for the last few decades the younger generation has relocated to more prosperous areas on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon where most of the jobs are. But interestingly, after an exodus that lasted several decades people are now moving back to Tai O to escape Hong Kong’s tumult and relish the humdrum of Tai O village.