Villages of the damned

25 04 2011

The forest between Tai Long Wan and the bus-stop that marks the end of the hiking trail is home to two mysterious, semi-abandoned villages. Settled by Hakka Chinese people in the 18th century, the settlements contain two hundred year old churches and some of Hong Kong’s last remaining traditional domestic architecture. And they have been all but deserted.

With foot travel the only way or in or out, the villages have been dwindling ever since the 1950s as inhabitant drifted into the big city to find more lucrative work. The hamlet of Tai Long had a population of 600 in the 1960s, but at the last census the official count was 15.

One shop remains open (on weekends anyway) for the benefit of passing hikers. (When I was there, there was a line of nubile men in speedos waiting to shower off there after surfing!) But the rest of the village has been left to the cows  – below – and is quite literally crumbing away.

Chek Kong is even spookier. Despite its lovely position on the side of an inlet, the attractions of the city’s bright lights were obviously more persuasive. The place is dead.

The ‘convenience store’ is still open. This is it:

But the rest of the village has long since departed. Curiously, they didn’t think to lock their doors before doing so. You can wander in and out of many of the mouldering country homes, even as they are swallowed up by the surrounding woods.

Utterly surreal.

This is some booby-trap shit! Step on the wrong floorboard and a chest of drawers lands straight on your head!




2 responses

3 12 2011
To Chek Keng « ilbonito blog 2007

[…] The second day of the camp was at the youth hostel at Chek Keng, an hour and a half’s hike into the forest of the Sai Kung protected area. On the way we passed through the fascinating abandoned village that I had explored previously here. […]

28 04 2014
Return to the Village of the Damned | ilbonito blog 2007

[…] visits to the town here and here. Photos in this post by Louis […]

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