Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kindness and Looking In (This week's Photo Hunt themes)

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!)


eastcoastlife said...

Unbelievable that the residents just abandoned their homes and neighbours or strangers don't take advantage of the vacated houses.

Would like to see these houses personally one day.

YTSL said...

Hi EastCoastLife --

Believe it! :)

BTW, there seems to be very few Photo Hunters playing this week. Hopefully people are just taking a week off as opposed to abandoning the memes... :S

Gattina said...

Nice pictures and a nice story. It's like me when I am in Germany (very seldom) everything has changed so much, I feel in a foreign country. I was 14 when I moved with my parents to Belgium. Even the language has changed, so many English words imported !

MaR said...

Always enjoy your pictures and posts for the themes, love the second one for "looking in". Taking a break from posting, merry Xmas and happy New Year to you and yours!

Trekcapri said...


This is such a wonderful take on this week's dual theme. It is very cool that the belongings in these abandoned homes were left untouched. Maybe one day the owners will be able to retune to their homes to retrieve them. Hopefully someone like that nice gentleman. Looking into their homes does feel like looking into their world and lives back then. Family looks to have an important presence.

Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.

Carver said...

Great post. I always enjoy your writing and photographs. I'm taking a break from new posts until after Christmas. Partly because I've been having so much trouble loading sites lately. I've tried different browsers but it can take 5 or 6 different tries to get sites including my own to load. Anyway, thanks for your visit and I'm sure I'll be back to the hunt soon.

Annie said...

Something very poignant about these abandoned homes. I like your photos and learning about the kindness of strangers in your part of the world.

YTSL said...

Hi Gattina --

Are you familiar with L.P. Hartley's "The Go-Between"? It begins with the line "The past is a foreign country..." Incidentally, that's also the title of an academic book by David Lowenthal. :)

Hi Mar --

Thanks for visiting, seasons greetings to you and hope to see you Photo Hunting in 2013. :)

Hi Trekcapri --

Am glad you like this blog entry. BTW, there's a village that's been turned into a folk museum at Sheung Yiu. The location is now within a country park and it's really amazing/interesting to read about its former residents now living in England and other far away territories...

Hi Carver --

Thank you for your comments and visits through the year(s). Oh dear re your having had trouble loading sites onto your computer lately. Hope that problem clears up soon.

Hi Annie --

I agree about there being something poignant about those abandoned homes. But at least I now get the sense that they weren't abandoned because of war, plague or some such disaster -- and that does make things not feel so sad!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

When we lived in Taiwan, I remember an abandoned house... and like you say, it was left alone. As kids, we thought it was haunted

I hope you find nothing but Kindness this Christmas ~

Susan Demeter said...

Great pics and story. Would also like to see the abandoned homes to photograph, there is something eerie about these places that compels me. Happy Holidays!

Vane M. said...

Linda história, abrilhantou o tema! Um abraço e Feliz Natal!

Felipa Monteverde said...

Nice photos and story, I have relatives living in other countries but they come to Portugal for holidays.

Vicki said...

Interesting explanation of those abandoned houses with all their belongings intact. The neighbours are very kind indeed.

Unexpected flowers given to me by kind people

YTSL said...

Hi Sandi --

I didn't know you lived in Taiwan! Thanks for the visit and Christmas wishes. Hope you have a happy holiday season too. :)

Hi Sue --

During the day time, I don't find the abandoned houses very eerie. Imagine I would at night though! ;b

Hi Bia Hain --

Thanks, am glad you appreciate my words as well as photos. Happy holidays to you too! :)

Hi Felipa --

I'm one of the people not currently living in my home country -- but I do go back for a visit from time to time, and do find it hard to imagine never returning.

Hi Vicki --

Actually, there are no neighbors -- or, rather, the nearest inhabitants frequently aren't that close. Believe it or not, we're talking sometimes here of entire villages having been abandoned!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

The New Territories : I have heard, but not the Lychee.

The food in the cafe was quite pricey. But it didn't serve the regular crowd. U have to pay for entrance $8 to the garden, then pay for food.

YTSL said...

Hi Ann --

The Big Lychee's the nickname for Hong Kong -- like The Big Apple's the nickname for New York... ;b