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Photographer captures photos of abandoned Hong Kong villages

Ian Harvey

A photographer recently released photos of several ghost towns in Hong Kong. These small villages have slowly become overgrown with greenery and nature. Sadly, they have been abandoned for over 50 years already.

Each photo taken of the abandoned villages reveals a rather interesting look into the past. Some of the villages are completely overgrown, whereas others are starting to be repopulated. People have actually begun returning to some of the villages; others are holding on to their homes and villages as tightly as possible. These small homes are all these people have left their families who left it years ago.

 

Abandoned villages mark the countryside of Hong Kong.Source-Pete Spurier

Abandoned villages mark the countryside of Hong Kong.Source-Pete Spurier

According to the South China Morning Post, the homes in the New Territories of Hong Kong were abandoned during the 1950s and 1960s when the residents left their small villages to search for better-paying work either in the city or overseas. People continued to leave during the 1960s when they realized that farming and fishing no longer paid the bills. The homes are often reclaimed by nature or in some way or another.

 

The first to go are the tiles, which begin to fall off, exposing the wooden beams to the wind, rain, and the sun. Depending on how long the wooden beams have been exposed, the roof begins to rot and falls in, taking the walls with it. The particular climate in Hong Kong allows vegetation to grow quite fast. The native plants grow quickly over the crumbling ruins.

 

As the photographer noticed, the front door is usually the last thing that reminds visitors and the people still living there that it was once a successful village.  Some families have returned to their settlements they left behind. Some have been gone as long as a decade. They come back to their village to see that the climate and vegetation has taken over their homes.

 

In one village, Cheung Uk village in Sha Lo Tung, chief Cheung Wai-kok is one of only two inhabitants. He had returned nearly eight years ago with his wife in order to open a private kitchen. He said that he and his wife have a lot of customers on the weekends who are hikers. Others who drive there enjoy dining among the ponds and farms that surround them.

 

He added that Sha Lo Tung is actually a protected ecological area. It is complete with butterflies, fireflies, and dragonflies. However, developers in the area want the land badly. There have been several plans mentioned over the years, like the construction of a golf course. He also mentioned that he really enjoyed living there as a kid. Some of the other clan members are considering moving back there as well in order to revive the village.

 

Another village, Fan Lou in southern Lantau, it is mostly abandoned except for two elderly couples. Yim Tin Tsai, just off of Sai Kung Town, was completely abandoned in 1998. However, in 2004, the local Catholic chapel had inspired the local conservationists to revive the settlement.

 

One of the old schools was turned into a heritage center for visitors, guided tours were available, and just last year a road connected the lost town to the rest of the city.

 

Other abandoned villages in Hong Kong include Fan Lau, Yim Tim Tsai, Sham Chung, Wang Shan Keuk, and Sha Lo Tung. These are only a small number of the abandoned villages in the area. It’s wonderful to see that people in the area care enough about the older villages. They are all working together to bring people back to those abandoned villages and make them successful once again. Hopefully, some of these revived villages will bring new tourists to the area to see all of the wonderful things they can bring back to the site.