• Josh Garman

Hong Kong's SECRET fishing village that the locals won't tell you about

In my last blog I arrived in Hong Kong which had a vastly different feel to it than mainland China. Shortly after my arrival I decided to head to Cheng Chau Island in search of it's hidden pirate caves. The day after I once again headed out by ferry to a new island. This time I was in search of the Ma Wan ghost town.

Hong Kong's SECRET fishing village that the locals won't tell you about
Hong Kong's SECRET fishing village that the locals won't tell you about

Coming off another ferry onto this new island I noticed it was more established than the previous one. You could reach it via a suspension bridge from the mainland and in it's centre skyscrapers stretched out like a post apocalyptic city. The streets bended and contorted with roots pushing up through the roads. Along the payments they burst through giving a feel that nature was returning in full force.

I walked past a small area with the islands one 7 eleven as I came out of the ferry and walked onto a beach nearby. The bridge was behind me and at it's base was a vast wooden ship run aground on the sands. In fact it wasn't just any ship, it was Noah's Ark!

That's right. This quirky island had built a replica of Noah's ark right here at the edge of the beach. I wandered over in amazement peering into an opening where animals poured out two by two. It was some form of religious theme park which I decided to check out. Going through the entrance I had found a strange virtual recreation of Noah's story. Inside there was live animals such as tortoises and frogs. All of them looked somewhat depressed. One frog peered at his reflection longingly in a small bowl of water.

Inside I found a tortoise collapsed over on it's side unable to get up. I watched as the other tortoises gathered and tried to nudge it over, legs swimming in the air. Eventually I tried using my pigeon Chinese to explain the situation. In perfect English I got a reply that they would go flip him over.

I read a little bit of the flood story and then left more confused than ever. I was offered some photos of me making the symbol for tiger claws but refused on the way out. I cracked on round the edge of the island in hopes of finding what I'd really come for. The further away I got from the ark the more dilapidated the surrounding became. Fine by me I thought, far more mystical. Growing closer to the abandoned town, houses began to spring up by the waterfront falling apart. Wood crumbling into the sea while ghostly fishing boats bobbed along, never to be used again.

Here's some facts about the ghost town:

The former village of Ma Wan is a ghost town. Wandering around, you’ll find abandoned residences, crumbling schoolrooms and stilt houses slowly falling into the ocean. But just 30 years ago, Ma Wan was home to a thriving community of 2,000 people, most of whom made their living from fishing and farming. In 2011, the government evicted the inhabitants of Ma Wan from their homes - The Truth Behind Hong Kong's Forgotten Village (theculturetrip.com)

I came to the main village and began to work my way through the abandoned building doing a bit of urban exploring. It filled me with terror at first, my go pro strapped to my head. For some reason people had added ghostly touches to each of the houses that would take you by surprise. A guitar hung from one of the ceilings, children's dolls were places around and red paint splattered like blood across some walls. I visited an abandoned train station with dog footprints embedded into the concrete. Then I found the local playground finding it the most eerie. Finally I climbed multiple floors of a building, convinced that my foot was going through the floor at any moment to reach the roof.

From here I could look out at the whole down and peer into the broken windows at a few other people who were looking around the buildings. I found it fascinating to think that people had lived here not that long ago and already nature was returning. Ivy growing on the inside over torn wallpaper. I sat by the water admiring the abandoned village and chatted to a local man. He told me the story and why the people had been evicted from here. I listened intently trying to imagine the outcries if this had happened back home.

The man told me he has spent a while living in London before returning here. He had grown up on the island and after many years decided to return and visit his family who still lived here. We chatted for a long time of China, it's culture and of home. Making me think about it for the first time in a long time. I left him to carry on walking round the island, deep in thought once again after my chance encounter.

As the sun began to set I rushed back to get the last ferry back to the mainland. Another island explored and Hong Kong felt weirder than ever!

In my next blog I will be talking about my time taking to the skies. For some unknown reason while out here I had the sudden urge to go paragliding! But more on that next time...

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