PHOTOGRAPHY – Ma Wan, Part 1: A Whole Abandoned Town Next to Tsing Ma Bridge

Once home to hundreds of villagers, Ma Wan village is now a ghost town. Unlike most of HK’s rural abandoned corners, the residents here were evicted by the government in 2011 – some of them unwillingly. Click here for Part II.

As of 1995, fish farming was the main economic activity on Ma Wan and Hong Kongers flocked to its seafood restaurants. Shrimp-drying and shrimp paste-making farms now lie abandoned.

The town had a population of several thousand prior to the 80s and around 800 in 2000. But today, Ma Wan is mostly home to Park Island – a huge gated housing estate that was mainly developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties. It houses 5,000 families.

The new development was completed in 2006 and villagers from the old town were rehoused in the northern part of the island.

As part of the compensation package, they were invited to choose either a traditional 3-storey village house of 2,100sq ft or 3 separate units each of 700sq ft in one single block.

Most jumped at the offer, though not all residents were happy with the deal and some protests against the mass-eviction continue today.

Many dwellings are locked up with ‘Government Property’ and ‘No Trespassing’ signs on the rusty doors. Others can be entered freely.

The Christian evangelical ‘Noah’s Ark’ attraction also sits in the shadow of Tsing Ma Bridge. It was concieved by Thomas Kwok, who is also the chairman of Sun Hung Kai.

Decrepit stilt houses can still be seen in the village, many slowly falling into the sea. A nearby floating fishing village, meanwhile, is still inhabited.

Ma Wan is accessible by bus from Tsing Ma MTR Station or direct boat from Central Ferry Pier 2. Private cars are not allowed and current residents complain that fewer and fewer transport options are available to them after the fare hikes and one of the two ferry services was cancelled.

The small ghost town once boasted its own schools, restaurants, a village study room and a health and well-being centre for children and women.

Today, less than 20 families live scattered around the old village, some residing there illegally.

The spot is still popular for model and wedding photographers though…

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