At lunch one day some months back, a colleague told the story of his being asked which part of Hong Kong he was from while dining at a Chinese restaurant in London's Chinatown. Turns out that the waiter had immigrated to London from Hong Kong some decades ago. More precisely, he had been one of thousands of individuals who had left their villages in the New Territories in the 1960s and 1970s in search of fortune and a better as well as different life.
From the conversation they had, my colleague surmised that the waiter had never returned even once to Hong Kong since he left it. Consequently, there was so much about the new Hong Kong that the older man didn't know about -- including the area where my colleague now lived, since it is built on reclaimed land and didn't exist at the time that the older man had waved goodbye to the Fragrant Harbour.
Hearing the tale got me thinking that the fact of many former New Territories villagers having moved far away to London -- rather than just to another part of Hong Kong -- may help explain how it was that they had elected to leave so much of their home furnishings and personal effects behind when making their move. Put another way: it makes what one sees when looking into still largely physically intact dwellings in abandoned villages such as Kau Tam Tso less mysterious and puzzling.
At the same time, the idea that many of these former residents have not returned in decades, not just mere years, also got me thinking about the kindness of strangers here in the Big Lychee -- or, at least, their law-abiding nature. For I don't see much signs of theft of people's belongings -- quite the contrary in fact, since so much remains in those long abandoned premises that those of us who come upon then when out hiking in the Hong Kong countryside often still can get a pretty good picture of how those people lived.
(Indeed, through such as photos -- many of them still framed and hanging on the walls (as can be seen in one of the photos in this week's entry for Sandi's and Gattina's Photo Hunts) -- we even can get a pretty good idea of what the former residents of those homes and their family members looked like before they moved away!)