Monday, 8 October 2012

Abandoned village #1, Hong Kong

Entrance of the village.
This is one of the abandoned villages in Hong Kong. It is located in the middle of nowhere on a mountain. There is no public transportation accessible to the village. As a matter of fact, there are over 100 abandoned villages in Hong Kong. Young people moved out to city while old people passed away, leaving the villages abandoned. One may wonder, land is very limited in Hong Kong (for you reference, Hong Kong has over 7 million population but has only 1,104 km2 land, of which 70% is green, i.e. mountains.), how come villages are just left behind without further development? Since the landlords are gone, it is difficult to trace who own the places; therefore, the government cannot develop the land without the landlords’ permissions. Moreover, some villagers are unwilling to sell the land. They prefer to leave their empty houses in no man villages.

This village has more than 350 years history. It is said that the village was built in Qing Dynasty by 10 people from mainland China. In the old times, there were up to 50 houses standing in the village. The village faces back to high mountains so floods can be avoided. The land was highly fertilized; hence, the villagers could support themselves although the village was very far away from city centre.

During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese occupied the village and started to mine near the place. The soil lost its fertility. Then the villagers gradually moved out. Most of the people in this village are gone. Some of them migrated to the UK and some moved out. Now only one old man lives there with three dogs, enjoying self-sufficient life. The old man, with some of his village friends, moved to England in his 20s but he was not used to the life there so he came back three years later. Some social workers helped the old man to find public housing in the city but the old man refused. He said he grew up there and has a lot of memories. On the day I went to the village, I did not see the old man but the three dogs and almost got attacked by them…If I had the chance, I would like to talk to the old man.

Villagers moved out but they did not bring furniture, utensils, clothing, etc with them. It is interesting how they weathered away naturally. In some houses, we found recent newspapers and tools. I guess the descendants intend to refurnish the houses and come back for holidays some time.

Abandoned places, in Hong Kong, are popular for war games. This village is not an exception. It is sad to see many of the houses are ruined by the war gamers. It is not nice to the break the peace of the old man as well… Another common point for abandoned places in Hong Kong is that, there are always ghost stories. There is a rumour that the villagers disappeared overnight from this village… But if one knows the history of it, one can tell apparently the rumour is just rumour.

Property developers wanted to buy the land and develop it as luxury housing. The process was not easy and environmental groups strong opposed. In the end, the project terminated.

A weathered bottle.

Traditional Chinese utensils. Those at the front are for alcohol.

A bed with cotton-padded quilt.

Electric water heater.

Although the place is very much worn out, one can still tell it was furnished with interesting combination of colours.

Half-broken steps...

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