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The Whispers of Ghosts .....

A Trip to Park Island.

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Years ago I used to work with someone who lived on Park Island. He told me it was a nice place quite, similar to Discovery Bay where I live. I thought to myself I must visit some time, then promptly forgot all about it. Then recently I came across an article about the abandoned fishing village of Ma Wan,on the same island, and I felt intrigued and decided to go and take a look.

Actually Ma Wan is the proper name for the whole island. This small island is located between Lantau Island and Tsing Yi Island. I got there by taking bus 330 from Tsing Yi MTR exit C.

Ma Wan was probably a relatively sleepy place till the mid-nineties when the government decided to build a new airport at Chek Lap Kok and phase out Kai Tak Airport. This plan necessitated the building of the Lantau Link a network of roads and bridges that passes through Ma Wan. The improved infrastructure led to the development of a residential area known as Park Island and later a theme park based on Noah's Ark. All these changes ultimately tolled the death knell for Ma Wan Village.

Ma Wan Village was once a thriving community of around two thousand people who mainly survived by farming or by fishing. The village had a history stretching back around two hundred and fifty years. According to an old legend a junk, laden with treasure belonging to a fearsome pirate named Cheung Po-Tsai, lies at the bottom of Kap Shui Mun, the short channel between Lantau and Ma Wan. In the 1980's Ma Wan was well known for its stilt houses, its seafood restaurants and its dried shrimp paste.

By the year 2000, the population of Ma Wan had dwindled to around 800. On the north side of the island, a luxury high-rise complex, known as Park Island, was being developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties.

The government and the developers of Park Island offered the villagers of Ma Wan compensation packages to encourage them to abandon their village. If their families had lived on the island for more than 99 years, they were offered new homes in New Ma Wan Village, a complex of three-storey village houses near Park Island. Some were happy with their new homes, but others were not and fought against their eviction.

Building Park Island cost around HK$12.5 billion and was completed in 2006. In 2014, Thomas Kwok, head of Sun Hung Kai Properties, was accused of bribery and sentenced to jail. During the trial, it was revealed Sun Hung Kai Properties had built Ma Wan Park as an excuse to evict the island’s indigenous population so they could build another luxury residential development.

I took the shuttle bus to its terminus and then walked along the waterfront towards Park Island's ferry pier. Ferries run from here to pier 2 in Central. On the walk I admired Ma Wan's lovely beaches, which are currently closed due to covid and gazed towards its beautiful bridges.

Park Island.

Park Island.

Park Island.

Park Island.

Park Island.

Park Island.

Beach and Ferry Pier.

Beach and Ferry Pier.

Ferry Pier.

Ferry Pier.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

Ting Kau Bridge.

Ting Kau Bridge.

Boats and the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Boats and the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Ting Kau Bridge.

Ting Kau Bridge.

Boats and the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Boats and the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Boats.

Boats.

Boats.

Boats.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

I next arrived at Noah's Ark. This was closed due to covid and it was impossible to get a good picture of it, so I just took some pictures of the signs and paintings advertising it.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

Noah's Ark.

After that I went into Ma Wan Park and had a wander around. It's a pleasant enough park and it has areas promoting wind energy and solar power, but it's all a bit run down and in need of repair.

Entrance to Ma Wan Park.

Entrance to Ma Wan Park.

Good place to get married??

Good place to get married??

Little Church.

Little Church.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Boardwalks.

Boardwalks.

Hilltop viewing area with art installation that blocked the view.

Hilltop viewing area with art installation that blocked the view.

Frogs and painted stones.

Frogs and painted stones.

Ladybird.

Ladybird.

Display on sustainable energy.

Display on sustainable energy.

Faked remains.

Faked remains.

Banana Trees.

Banana Trees.

Leafy Plants.

Leafy Plants.

Stairways.

Stairways.

Painted stones.

Painted stones.

Winding Pathways.

Winding Pathways.

Painted stones.

Painted stones.

Kangaroos.

Kangaroos.

After leaving the park, I wandered around looking for the abandoned village of Ma Wan but it was impossible to find. Fortunately, a very helpful Filipino lady came past walking a dog. I asked her for help and she pointed me in the right direction.

First, I saw the new village that the original inhabitants of Ma Wan Village were moved to. There was a floating fishing village out at sea nearby.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Floating Fishing Village.

Finally, I wandered off into the abandoned village. I passed lots of banana trees on the way.

Banana Trees.

Banana Trees.

Banana Trees.

Banana Trees.

Banana Trees.

Banana Trees.

Houses I passed on the way.

Houses I passed on the way.

Houses I passed on the way.

Houses I passed on the way.

It's quite amazing here. So much has just been abandoned and houses have been left to crumble. In the midst of it all some houses were still owned by people. They had keys and were wandering around inside. There were signs everywhere warning 'Government Property Keep Out'. Some houses were open and you could cautiously go inside; others were locked up and fenced off. It was all very sad. It all felt like everyone had left in a huge hurry: ornaments still sat behind broken windows, bicycles covered with weeds lay scattered across the ground.

Looking inside the homes.

Looking inside the homes.

Looking inside the homes.

Looking inside the homes.

Looking inside the homes.

Looking inside the homes.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Abandoned houses.

Baskets for drying shrimps.

Baskets for drying shrimps.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Keep Out.

Keep Out.

Abandoned Bicycle.

Abandoned Bicycle.

Abandoned Homes.

Abandoned Homes.

Abandoned Homes.

Abandoned Homes.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Ma Wan Rural Committee.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Shattered pots.

Shattered pots.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Deserted Streets.

Deserted Streets.

Lucky Star House.

Lucky Star House.

Rural Committee.

Rural Committee.

Rural Committee.

Rural Committee.

Silent Playground.

Silent Playground.

Waving Cats.

Waving Cats.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Bicycles.

Bicycles.

Looking inside.

Looking inside.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

Another empty park.

Another empty park.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

Abandoned Home.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Keep Out Signs.

Keep Out Signs.

On the waterfront there were people fishing from the pier. There were several abandoned boats. Some had sunk and I could only see bits of them protruding from the water. The dragon boats that would once have been the pride of the village lay scattered around. One waterfront house was still well kept and surrounded by beautiful flowers. I'd imagine someone still lives there surrounded by the ghosts of their former village.

On the waterfront.

On the waterfront.

Pier and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Pier and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Dolphin and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Dolphin and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

On the beach.

On the beach.

Pier and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Pier and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

On the waterfront.

On the waterfront.

Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Gateway.

Gateway.

Fishing.

Fishing.

Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

The Pier.

The Pier.

Abandoned dragon boats.

Abandoned dragon boats.

Pavilion.

Pavilion.

Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

Boats.

Boats.

Boats and dragon boat.

Boats and dragon boat.

Boats and dragon boat.

Boats and dragon boat.

House on stilts.

House on stilts.

Still beautiful.

Still beautiful.

House on stilts.

House on stilts.

Boats.

Boats.

Still beautiful.

Still beautiful.

Village Well.

Village Well.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Stone Marker saying Ma Wan was once a customs point.

Stone Marker saying Ma Wan was once a customs point.

Stone Marker.

Stone Marker.

In the midst of all the chaos, right in the middle of the village, the temple to Tin Hau, goddess of the sea, was still well-tended and cared for. The smoke from its incense sticks wafted out towards the waterfront.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Temple Door.

Temple Door.

Temple Door

Temple Door

Temple Door.

Temple Door.

In front of the temple.

In front of the temple.

A bit further on the village gods were all still intact, standing in a row, surveying the chaos. No-one will damage them as that would most certainly bring bad luck.

Village gods.

Village gods.

Village gods.

Village gods.

Later I came across another well- tended shrine. Spiritually Ma Wan still seems to be thriving.

Well tended shrine.

Well tended shrine.

Well tended shrine.

Well tended shrine.

Apparently the street lights still come on in Ma Wan at night, but I didn't wait to find out. I'd imagine it's peaceful but rather creepy here in the dark. By this time it had started to rain and turn rather cold. I'd got so carried away I'd used up all the charge in my phone. Sadly, I left the ghost whisperers to their fate and wandered back to the real world that had stolen their heritage.

Posted by irenevt 16:48 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

How sad that those villagers were evicted - and all for nothing it seems, if the houses are just left to crumble and no use made of the land! You may get beautiful views from those new waterfront apartments in Park Island, but as a photographer I would be much happier wandering around these abandoned houses :)

by ToonSarah

Hi Sarah, yes it is very sad and seemingly pretty pointless. It was a fascinating place to wander round though. Merry Christmas.

by irenevt

Finally I got time to sit down to read this intriguing entry!
Pity that people needed to leave just to watch their homes decline.
The village must be interesting at night with street lights and all the empty houses but I can see why you wanted to leave, it is not so fun to roam around if being cold :)

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna, yes it must have been very sad for the villagers. The new village, most of them moved to, isn't far away but it is quite a different place and they would have been near enough to watch everything in their old village fall apart. Must have been heartbreaking.

by irenevt

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