The village of Shui Hau is three hundred years old. The village is bounded by the Lantau Peak to the north and the South China Sea to the south. In Chinese, “Shui Hau” means the mouth of a waterway, which explains its geographic location. The village, or the island where it is situated, must be understood with an appreciation of the sea. Lantau Island is part of an archipelago separating the Pearl River and the open seas. The waterway connects Lantau to Soko Islands, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Macau and other cities and settlements in the Pearl River Delta. Recent human settlements in Lantau can only be understood from the perspective of the sea and its seafarers.
Rhymes of Shui Hau features three elderly ladies from the village. Their stories, and the rhymes they hum in Wai Tau Waa, an age-old dialect that many cannot comprehend, offer a glimpse of Hong Kong before its industrialisation and urbanisation. If their rhymes open a window to the city’s past, they are also a peephole for our future. If development and urban expansion is given a free reign, we would soon forget the vernacular heritage that we have lost.