Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A hike that passed through villages -- some still inhabited, others abandoned long ago (Photo-essay)

The first Chinese New Year that I spent in Hong Kong, I went hiking on the very first day of the year along a 10.5 kilometer trail that took two friends and me on a route that began in the northeastern New Territories village of Wu Kau Tang and took us eastwards to the small hamlet of Sam A Tsuen before circling back to Wu Kau Tang and ending up near Bride's Pool. And so pleasant was that excursion that it left me wanting to revisit and explore more of the area -- particularly the walled village of Lai Chi Wo that's famed for its well preserved state and fung shui wood.

As it so happened, it was over another Chinese New Year period that I ended up venturing again into that area -- and once more with two friends, albeit different ones from the ones I had hiked there with back in 2008. And once again, I found that part of the Big Lychee yielded many interesting sights -- including in the form of abandoned as well as still inhabited villages, and structures ruined and unruined, rather than more usual natural attractions that I've come to expect to see when out hiking in Hong Kong...

River mouth dragon (god?) shrine
by a stream
near Wu Kau Tang

The kind of rural landscape that looks like it's
a different age as well as far further from
urban Hong Kong than it actually is ;)

I wonder what caused the inhabitants of the village
of Kau Tam Tso to leave without taking
many belongings including ancestral portraits,
televisions and other home furnishings?

Signs of recent, even if temporary, inhabitation adds
to the largely abandoned village's air of mystery

Perhaps this sign found a bit further along the trail helps
explain the signs of human habitation to be found
in (previously) abandoned villages in the area...

Near Ha Miu Tin, we came across ruins of buildings
which we overheard being described by a local hiker

as having been used to incarcerate people by
the Japanese
during World War II

Tomatoes growing wild now near the ruins

Could these buildings really have held prisoners previously?

To be continued...! :b


baroness radon said...

Those tomatoes look tasty.

Horsoon said...

Indeed full of mysteries... like everyone left in a hurry, just like in the movie set. Creepy?

alejna said...

Very intriguing! If only those walls could talk.

YTSL said...

Hi baroness radon --

They do indeed... but I let them be and didn't pluck them! ;O

Hi Horsoon --

A bit eerie, I agree... I wouldn't like to be around there at night! ;)

Hi alejna --

If only those walls could talk indeed... :b

sarah bailey knight said...

hi ytsl,

I like the hikes you go on that take you by/through/around, in & out of different abandoned buildings and villages. Do they have a distinct smell? I ask as some of the abandoned buildings around here smell, at least from the outside, of mildew. I don't go inside as they're not safe.

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

I like the variety of hikes (and terrain -- cultural and natural) that Hong Kong offers up.

Re the abandoned buildings and villages: I'm not sure that there's a distinct smell to them. Some that are in more wooded areas have a smell -- of nature taking over again perhaps? But others don't strike me as smelling particularly.

One factor about the lack of strong smell(s) is that I tend to go rooting about abandoned buildings and villages only in colder weather. In warmer weather, I am more cautious about exploring around these places because that's when the snakes are not hibernating... and in at least one abandoned building, my hiking companion and I saw shedded snake skin! ;b

eastcoastlife said...

eerie and so mysterious. I too wonder why the villages abandoned their personal stuff and left, were they in a hurry?

YTSL said...

Hi EastCoastLife --

My first thought when seeing Kau Tam Tso was that maybe the villagers were fleeing from the Japanese during the second world war. But I later saw that the buildings don't date back that far. So I'm really don't know why they left -- but yeah, it looks to have been in a major hurry, for sure!