To The West Of Hong Kong – Tai O


At 9pm, with a fully-packed backpack about to burst open at the seams, a weighty sleeping bag on my left hand, drenched in perspiration, curiosity, and agitation, I finally arrived at the destination: the renowned Solo Cafe.

Piles of finished paper lanterns and decorations had already stacked up on the table next to them by the time I arrived late, and I wasted no time quickly acquainting myself with the procedures.  Measuring precisely on sides of the recycled plastic files, I cut the them into diamond shapes, before cutting open the sides and rearranging them into rolls. They were then stuck together with tape into similar parts, finally to be pieced into an enormous decoration.

Carefully avoiding the plastic scraps, empty bottles, and ink markers, the locals explained the bottles would be cut up, colored and forged into scales of a bamboo fish they’re concomitantly making. I recalled the gigantic structure resting in darkness in a restricted area as I entered the village–so that’s what it’s all about. The bottles crafted in hard plastic put up a respectable fight when I tried cutting them into designated shapes. As disgruntled as I was after dissecting all of them, watching the then cut-up bottles receive renewed life as the scales of a fish following a coat of coloring was a pleasant sight to see.

The local residents had no reservations when we tossed all sorts of questions at them. From what restaurants are delicious, to how often they go fishing, they seem to have hours of stories to tell for every topic we bring up. Drawn into the captivating tales, their enthralling voices are all that I hear.

It was 11pm when Alicia decided it is time we have a good rest. The two upper levels of Solo Cafe are the place where we’d call home for the next few days. Earnestly shocked was I upon opening the door– I dare say it seems larger and cozier than I expected. Surely this was as close as it can get to my own home. Finally, a good night sleep!

Text by Owen Chau
Photos by Alicia Tsui


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