Thursday, December 18, 2014   




Nights in old cells cop an Unesco honor

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Unesco announced its Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards a few weeks ago. This year's winner is a magnificent chedi, or reliquary stupa, at the Prayurawongsawas Worawihan temple in Bangkok.

Among other sites honoured are a 19th century merchant's palace in Kabul, Afghanistan; a Victorian railway station in Victoria, Australia; a bomb shelter in Hanoi, Vietnam; and the "Enjoying Snow Yard" imperial library building in Beijing.

And then there is our Tai O Heritage Hotel on Lantau Island, which won one of six awards of merit.

Originally a police station, built in 1902 with distinctive colonial-era verandas and arched windows, it was once an outpost aimed at countering pirates. The building later served as a local policing and administrative office before finally closing in the early 2000s - amid falling crime rates.

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It is now a boutique hotel popular with tourists, but also with many locals who visit to see the premises and try the rooftop restaurant, which serves traditional food from around Tai O village.

This means dishes such as fried rice with shrimp paste, and pork bun with, of course, shrimp paste - one of the main products of the historic village.

Unesco praised the project for involving the local community and former police personnel, those who served in the building in the old days.

They also commended the research and other work that enabled the restoration and other efforts to bring the original structure back to life. The award is well-deserved recognition.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings.


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