Some places just ooze charm – even on a gloomy Wednesday afternoon. Po Toi O is not smart, wealthy or particularly beautiful, but it’s always a pleasure to be there. After all, what’s not to like about a community that provides chairs at the minibus stop?
Po Toi O has an authenticity that most villages in the area lost years ago. This is a fishing village that still fishes.
It gets its name from its location – a sheltered, sack-shaped bay in the outer reaches of Clearwater Bay. The village itself is little more than a temple and a collection of small houses, shacks and fish farms.
On that wintry Wednesday, Po Toi O was quietly going about its business: old ladies played mahjong, others looked after their grandchildren, blessings were sought in the temple, and well-fed cats licked their paws outside deserted seafood stalls. Every house was newly dressed with door gods, and many front doors were ajar – an open invitation to neighbours and relatives. Perhaps that’s not surprising in a place where almost everyone has the same name – Po.
Come the weekend, and the atmosphere changes. Sunny Sundays see the car-free main street thronged with visitors and lined with small stalls selling dried seafood in all its slightly weird glory. But the main draw for tourists is its two large seafood restaurants, Fat Kee and Seafood Islands. Both have an open-air vibe, tanks full of fish and crustacea, and busy, efficient kitchens. Until recently, Seafood Islands used the village pier as extra restaurant space, but one of those fun-sucking government notices about land use seems to have put paid to that for the time being.
On the hill above the village, just beyond an interesting group of graves, lie two luxury housing developments: Seacrest Villas – the newer of the two, with a pleasant communal garden and children’s playground – and Fairway Vista, which has a dozen houses, some with sea views, and a rather ferocious security guard.