Feature Story


International Analogy

Stilt houses are called Kelong in Singapore - these are built without the need for nails, using rattan to bind tree trunks and wooden planks together.

Delve into this cherished land and your eyes will be welcomed by a magnificent array of stilt-houses - a sign of the nature's blessing with bountiful resources and wise brains. Perched on the ever-flowing streams surrounding the fishing village, Tai O stilt-house is not just the dwelling home to thousand indigenous habitats, but also a living example showcasing how human live in harmony with our nature.

Stilt Houses

As one of the region's most striking features, stilt houses in Tai O have more than two hundred years of history. Nicknamed water houses or leaf houses, they were huts built along the riverside to allow fishermen to make a living and accommodate their families.

In the early days, fishermen in Tai O lived and worked entirely aboard boats with their families. Originally a family of ten or more would be sheltered in a vessel measuring not more than 20 feet in length. These crowded conditions led them to move from boat houses to land and they built stilt houses to spare the elderly and children the risks of seafaring.

Stone pillars, wooden planks and huge leaves were the major building materials for early stilt houses. From the 1960s and on, villagers used tin plate to cover walls and roofs, while a charcoal-coloured kwan din wood replaced the stone pillars to enhance the solidity of the structure.

The interior is generally divided into sleeping rooms, an area for the altar to the ancestors, and the living room. As the construction of these houses is very simple and easy to demolish, similar to assembling a stage, people called these houses Pang Uk.

Residents used to pick a lucky day from the lunar calendar for the start of construction. Some would also create a balcony overhanging the water for relaxation.