I have written a piece about exploring Hong Kong’s abandoned villages for the SCMP’s Post Magazine, and you can read it at this link.
The text is below, minus the villager interviews which were conducted by Elaine Yau but plus some description of the villages, and with a few pictures different from those published in the magazine.
The rain was incessant, the skies a greenish grey, and my Sunday hike across the northeast New Territories was taking far longer than I thought it would. It was now late afternoon and getting dark, and yet I was still walking an exposed hillside miles away from the nearest road. I wouldn’t be able to make it back to town before night fell.
It was time to make other plans. My sodden paper map showed a village called So Lo Pun in the valley below. I would get down there, knock on a door and ask if I could sleep on someone’s floor.
The descent was quick, but only because the steep path was a rivulet of slippery clay. And when I reached the forest at the bottom, I was knee-deep in water. It was dark already. Where was the village? I couldn’t even see any lights.
I suddenly realised that I had arrived. The tall trees of the forest were growing up through the dark windows and broken rafters of what had been a terrace of single-storey houses. Nobody had lived here for decades.
It was my introduction to the abandoned villages of Hong Kong.