PHOTOGRAPHY – So Lo Pun: HK’s Ancient ‘Haunted’ Abandoned Village 10

So Lo Pun 鎖羅盆 is arguably one of Hong Kong’s oldest, most ‘haunted’ and most rural abandoned villages.

Encircled by thick forest and beautiful mangroves, the name ‘So Lo Pun’ translates literally as ‘the compass is locked’. This is because hikers have supposedly reported that compasses tend to stop working when they enter the area.

There is evidence that the village had been inhabited since 872 AD but by the 1980s, it had been almost completely deserted.

Crumbling houses, some small temples and storage houses remain…

Located deep in Plover Cove Country Park, it is only accessible on foot – over three-and-a-half hours from the nearest road.

Some believe that, many years ago, all of the villagers died in a boat accident on the way to a wedding banquet.

Others claim the area is haunted as a visitor once had a heart attack after seeing ghosts there.

In reality, it shares a similar anatomy to other villages in Plover Cove. Political and economic upheaval between the 1950s and 70s prompted most inhabitants to claim their residency in Britain and beyond or move closer to the city.

Hong Wrong visited a few weeks after Chinese New Year, so lucky scrolls were freshly adorning the remains of each decrepit building.

For much of its history, the village was known as So Nou Pun – which referred to its location in a wide basin.

Nestled in a valley, but with access to the sea, the village is said to be perfect from a Feng Shui perspective.

Those who retain rights to the land continue to protest against government attempts to incorporate the area into the surrounding protected country park…

Land-owners are against selling to the government and more environmental protection, as it forbids reconstruction. Also, many believe they can sell to private developers for a more lucrative sum.

In an effort to reinforce the land claim, an ex-villager attempted to clear a stretch of encroaching forest in 2008.

The powerful rural affairs body Heung Yee Kuk is behind the ex-villagers and is said to be ready to confront the government should it attempt to fold Plover Cove’s ghost towns into the park.

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Angry pointing man, via Oriental Daily

For now, So Lo Pun remains a quiet escape from the bustling city, attracting just a handful of eco-tourists and hikers each weekend.

The SCMP video below follows Charley Lanyon and Robin Fall on a Halloween night hike to So Lo Pun. View Part 2 here.

So Lo Pun is best visited as part of a whole-day tour of Plover Cove’s ghost villages. Another semi-abandoned village – Lai Chi Wo – can be visited en route.

Runkeeper map - excluding stops.

Route times exclude stops. Click for detailed info.

Transport links are more reliable if you begin the day at Tai Po Market MTR. Head to Exit B for a green taxi (HK$100) to Wu Kau Tang. Bear left then out of the village, following signs for Sam A. Continue to Lai Chi Wo > So Lo Pun > over the ridge to Yung Shue Au > Kuk Po > Fung Hang > Luk Keng. Minibuses from Luk Keng run regularly to Fan Ling MTR.

80% of the 8-hour hike is flat with some of the best scenery in the territory. There are cafe stalls in Sam A, Fung Hang and (on Sundays) Kuk Po – otherwise there is little food/water available, so take supplies. Hikers will pass by mangrove forests, old farmland, lots of coastal features and huge trees. It is a full-day hike, though some choose to camp at a half-way point such as So Lo Pun.

Exploring forgotten corners of HK where nature is winning…

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