With yim tin tsai translating to ‘small saltpan’ in Cantonese, it’s clear to see that the island’s prominent industry had a significant impact. Hakka settlers developed salt farms on the island and made their living from its sale. The saltpans were used to dry out the salt before it was used as a prime trading good. However, with international competition, Hakka villagers were eventually priced out of the global market. Today, the saltpans have been restored and are fully functioning, making it a prominent site for day trippers. The revitalised saltpans are for demonstration purposes only, but the finished product can be taken home as souvenirs by its visitors.
Built in 1890, St Joseph’s Chapel was erected in Romanesque style by visiting missionaries who developed a strong relationship with the Hakka Chan clan. Before the turn of the century, the Hakka people had largely converted to Catholicism under the influence of the Roman Catholic priest Joseph Freinademetz. Some years later, the entire village was baptised in a ceremony. The chapel was dedicated to the island’s patron saint, and has since been named a UNESCO-listed heritage building, standing as a physical reminder of the impact St Joseph made on the villagers.
The Heritage Exhibition Centre is next to St Joseph’s Chapel and occupying a section of the village’s former primary school, Ching Po School. Home to a small collection of artefacts, from ceramics and homeware to everyday items, showcasing the village’s unique history and what life was like in its heyday.
Though the island is small — just 0.24sq km — there are several places to explore throughout, making it more than worthy of a day trip. Once you arrive, explore the surrounding coastline, which is encompassed by marshy mangroves. After getting yourself acquainted with the island’s heritage and culture, explore its surrounding scenery. Elsewhere on Yim Tin Tsai, the ‘Jade Bridge’ connects Yim Tin Tsai to Kau Sai Chau, its larger neighbouring island that is best known today as the site of a popular public golf course.
When visiting the island, don’t miss the selected artworks co-created by local artists and villagers during the Yim Tin Tsai Festival. The open museum integrates art, religion, culture, heritage and green elements that are still visible on the island today.
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