At first glance, the Northeastern New Territories village
of So Lo Pun looks completely ruined
And indeed, many of its buildings are not much
more than mere shells now
But at least one building looks to still be inhabited --
and we met three residents of the village this afternoon
(at least one of whose English was pretty good)! :)
Earlier today, my hiking friend and I paid a visit to a Northeastern New Territories village whose origins date back to the 9th century according to its Wikipedia entry. Mind you, the same Wikipedia entry also states that "Today, the village is now derelict and is uninhabited." But among the things we discovered over the course of this afternoon's excursion was this village is not completely abandoned -- or, at the very least, has been recently re-settled by at least three people.
Definitely inhabited and prosperous in 1898, the year that the British leased the New Territories for 99 years from China, this village whose geography may be ideal according to fung shui principles -- what with it being nestled in a valley but also with access to the sea -- was then known as So Nou Pun, with "pun" referring to its location in a wide valley (or basin -- which is what means in Cantonese). However, no doubt because its location is less than ideal in terms of it being far away from any roadways, never mind any main roads, the village went into decline in the 1960s, and only a handful of residents remained by the 1980s.
Somewhere down the line, this remote settlement got to have a reputation as a "ghost village" where compasses would malfunction when in the vicinity. Stories about the village renamed as So Lo Pun -- which translates from Cantonese to mean "the compass is locked" -- include a man having died of a heart attack after seeing ghosts there. And a local hiker who joined our party midway through our excursion did appear much happier to be visiting the area with other people rather than on his own (even while having been happy to hike by himself on other parts of the trail!).
While it's true enough that So Lo Pun's buildings generally look to be in worse condition than the nearby abandoned village of Yung Shue Au and sparsely inhabited Kuk Po on the other side of the ridge, I didn't find the admittedly quiet settlement to be all that creepy. Indeed, I found myself wishing that we could have spent more time there than we could spare, given its distance from our hike starting and end point of Luk Keng (reachable by green mini bus 56K from the Fanling MTR station).
Hopefully, I'll pay So Lo Pun another visit one of these days. And if there are no signs of life in the village, only then will I be inclined to pay attention to all those urban legends about it being a haunted part of Hong Kong... ;b