Elsie Cheung (left), Chief Operating Officer of the South China Morning Post presents the award of First Runner-up to Bonnie Choi Yuk Wa, student at The University of Hong Kong. Pictured is her brother as she was not available that day
You awoke early one morning to find the sun streaming through the blinds. Staying in a colonial-style guest room, you were wondering about where you were. You sprang out of bed and explored the area. Walking along the corridor, you could see the Armoury Room and Sub Division Inspector’s Office. You were amazed to see historical canons, a searchlight and guard towers, and finally you realised that the place was Tai O Heritage Hotel Hong Kong.
It is not a dream anymore to witness the vivid cultural heritage of Tai O, including the Tai O Heritage Hotel, which was remodeled from the Old Tai O Police Station built in 1902. It is today a cultural and educational destination for visitors and an outstanding cultural heritage which manifests the past history of Tai O, the captivating fishing village.
The Old Tai O Police Station was built to guard the border between China and Hong Kong and detect any pirates and illegal immigrants. A Grade II historic building, it has retained its remarkable colonial features. Its unique architecture and interesting history is worth preserving to be passed on to future generations.
Karl Law, the hotel’s operation manager, originally worked in a hotel in the urban area, but decided to join the Tai O Heritage Hotel two years ago. “Unlike the detached relationship with tourists the city, I find it is more meaningful to personally tell the past story of the Old Tai O Police Station and the culture-rich Tai O to both local and overseas visitors. I feel that I really connect with them. Despite the remote working location, I have a high sense of accomplishment and that drives me to work here,” Law explains. “I have forged a strong bond with the kind Tai O residents. It is an unforgettable working experience.”
The Tai O Heritage Hotel has successfully captured the essence of revitalisation of historical buildings, sustainable tourism and local community engagement. The appropriate allocation of capital in conservation projects can bring far-reaching impact on society. To build a sustainable city, we cannot ignore the cultural values, which are the collective memory of Hong Kong citizens. The Tai O Heritage Hotel is a convincing case that shows clearly the significance of revitalisation to give Hong Kong the vitality to press forward afresh.
Dear readers, try to find time to go on a short refreshing trip to Tai O, steal a moment of serenity and tranquility in the Tai O Heritage Hotel and appreciate the memorable history and culture of the village. Last but certainly not least, try to grab the chance to taste the most famous Tai O local specialty – their delicious shrimp paste!