This week we visited the little known architectural wonder that is Tai O fishing village in Hong Kong. A fishing village built entirely on stilts, visited mainly buy tourists wanting to purchase dried fish and eat local snacks. But look a little further, delve into the back streets and you will find a community that has built (and is still building) an entire village on stilts in the inlet of the South China sea. Here is our photo diary of a quiet Sunday spent exploring the structures that seem to defy gravity, and watching the villagers build new structures and maintain the old houses.
Part of me feels like I shouldn’t post this….. I want to keep it a secret so it stays quiet, calm and unspoilt forever. But it is too beautiful not to share, you are in for a treat!
Earlier this month Eclectic East took a mini break to crosswaters ecolodge. Nestled amid swaying bamboo forests in the valleys of the Nankunshan Mountain Reserve in Guandong province, it is so far removed from the hustle, bustle and pollution of urban China, it was easy to forget that it was only a few hours drive from Hong Kong. Designed by EDSA, the architecture considers local materials and the flowing landscape whilst still creating structures and spaces that feel contemporary and avant garde. The scheme was constructed using local and recycled materials that were all on the site. Bamboo is something that you get used to seeing in construction when you live in Asia but this lodge is exceptional, the use of bamboo brings together traditional materials with striking design which beautifully and simply expresses the structural elements of it’s form.
Windows that fully opened up to the cool forest outside brought in the wonderful mountain air, traditional bamboo screening the use of reflective pools are all designed to create a resort that feels contemporary in a way that doesn’t intrude on the landscape around it.
So what did Mr and Mrs Eclectic East do all weekend other than admire the wonderful architecture? Well… firstly we ate very well indeed! All the food in the resort is locally sourced so mountain frog (yes really!) and river fish are specialities of the lodge – very tasty indeed! Not surprisingly bamboo is also on the menu which is delicious and very good for your health apparently. Whilst we weren’t eating we enjoyed swimming in the natural swimming pool in the river, hiking in the surrounding hills, yogaing on our balcony overlooking the river and simply enjoying the swaying bamboo trees and imagining we were in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
When the sun went down and we had eaten too many frogs and drunk some very bad wine (suggest taking your own if you visit!) we climbed the resort’s very own star gazing tower and were dazzled by the beautiful twinkly sky and thought how lucky we were to have found this little bit of paradise in the mountains.
Eclectic East has been a bit quiet this week because we have been climbing the majestic mount rinjani.
Our Friday food post is a little different this week; what can be cooked between 2600m and 3700m up a mountain with a campfire, a trusty wok, some fresh veggies and the most incredible guide – Ang and his team of super strong porters.
For our first lunch Ang set about chopping veggies, frying chicken and boiling the kettle on the fire for a much needed cuppa. He told us he was making mee goreng (fried noodles) and we were impressed. But then we saw that he was frying fresh prawn crackers and we knew this would be a special lunch!
From then onward we new we were in for a treat. Every meal was beautifully prepared with so much skill and effort. Our most memorable culinary experience was Ang surprising us with delicious hot french fries at 2600m. Who would have thought it was possible to serve a french fry from a campfire! With the stunning back drop of the crater rim and the summit of rinjani as our backdrop it is quite a strong contender to compete with the highest restaurant in the world at the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (but that is another story!). We were exhausted and, after watching an incredible sunset over Lombok and Bali whilst eating another yummy meal of fried rice with chicken and fresh pineapple for dinner, we were ready to snuggle into our tiny tent and get some sleep.
Day two started at 6am with extra strong lombok coffee served with pineapple pancakes! a steady descent took us down to the lake at 2000m where we stopped to swim in the hot springs and have lunch. Ang caught fish from the lake which he prepared with spaghetti which he told us was western style but it actually had a distinct sweet Indonesian flavour – scrummy!
After another gruelling climb to 2600m taking us to the lower left ridge of summit, day two ended with veggie curry served looking at another stunning sunset.
Day three began at 2.30am (yes really!) with more lombok coffee to fire us up for our 1100m climb to get to the summit at sunrise. It was the toughest physical thing I have ever done in my life and one of the most rewarding. Seeing the sunrise as we arrived at the summit and catching the shadow of the mighty rinjani across the lake – worth every bit of effort!
After the glorious summit we skidded down the hill to be served a breakfast of kings! Apple pancakes with chocolate sauce and banana fritters with chocolate and cheese (yes it sounds disgusting but it was truly delicious – or maybe we were just exhausted!).
I will leave you with a portrait of the multi talented Ang – King of the mountains (and the woodfired wok!).
Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m really excited to be sharing inspiration and trends from Asia. I’ve been living in Hong Kong for the past 5 years, working as a textile designer. Happily I’ve had the chance to travel extensively in Asia, getting a real sense of the different cultures and design trends of the east. From the quirky to the traditional, the beautiful to the awkward, all with such colour and energy it can be an assault on your senses sometimes but always leaves you smiling.
This map hangs in a very prominent place in my home and is a constant reminder how much I love travel and how much more I want to see of the world. Through this blog I want to share with you my travels in the Eclectic East and all the visual fireworks that come with it.