Lifestyle See and do

One Day Villager

Written by Yuci Tai

In 2005, after the last fishing vessel built in Macau was launched, the shipyards were closed down and became a part of Macau’s history. Macau was once a fishing town with many shipyards, but all that is left now are the remnants of them in the Lei Chi Vun Village. I visited Lei Chi Vun Village which is a lonely place located southeast of Coloane. I was being a one day villager to learn more about a traditional, time-honored industry.

Lei Chi Vun Village seems to be cut off from the rest of the world and is sparsely populated. If you take the bus and get off in downtown Coloane, you still need to walk 15 minutes to get to the village. In front of the village, there is a shop selling salted fish, A strong salted fish scent floats in the air while nearby empty shipyards sit side by side. From close up you can see all the old shipbuilding tools and wood. It is a living shipbuilding museum.

I’m such a nosey-parker, I met On Wo Shipyard’s owner Mr Tam Kam Chun on the way and talked with him incessantly. Mr Tam told me, “Shipbuilding was understood by the Chinese as ‘the assembly of a ship’ and its practitioners were often called ‘ship assemblers’. The traditional shipbuilding apprentice must pass at least three years of study to become a qualified shipbuilder. The Macau shipbuilding industry also saw the introduction of machines into production and the development of fishing vessels from being wind-driven to motor-driven which led to a change in the mode of operation and techniques. It was a prosperous moment but unfortunately with the decline of the industry, the crafts will also be lost.”

After saying goodbye to Mr Tam, I continued to walk along and arrived at Han Ji coffee shop which a lot of people are admiring for the Hand Shake coffee. The coffee shop owner was also a shipbuilder when he was young. Because of an accident, his arm was injured and he couldn’t work for the shipbuilding industry anymore, which is when he started running this coffee shop to offer a place for the shipbuilders to have a cup of coffee and relax. It was another way for him to continue contributing to shipbuilding.

Lei Chi Vun Village is filled with many shipbuilding stories, so whether you come for a tasty coffee or are looking for a beautiful and serene place to explore, this is a great place to visit.