I lived many places during my Sabbatical, and this is the hallway of one of them. I was finding it challenging finding a place to stay in Hong Kong, and tried out Couch Surfing.
I stayed with a very generous and wonderful woman. She shared the flat with her young daughter, and a German fellow, that had been in China for a long time, and was renting sleeping space. The space was so tiny, even including the toilet and kitchen areas, that the generosity of allowing me the sofa made me feel a powerful gratitude. The sofa was half my length, but gratitude made it a wonderful two nights sleep.
Abandoned buildings are places that have lost usefulness, perhaps holding a memory that no one wants, and left alone to be reclaimed by nature and the fog of human memory. There is just something about these places that capture my imagination.
My friend Alan, who had acted in a short film that was shot in this area, told me about the location, saying he wanted to return to take photos. When he asked me to join him, I said “Yes!” almost before he finished speaking.
We visited an abandoned asylum. I won’t be saying specifically where we went, but if I know you personally, and you want to go, I’ll see if I can remember. Do you get what I’m laying down?
Once we arrived, we started walking around to get a feel for the place. The grounds are set back from the road, and are quiet and peaceful. We could hear the trees moving, leaves rustling, the beat of the bird wings, and were surrounded by bird song. It had just rained, so I got some lovely nature photos.
We walked past many buildings, all boarded up and overgrown.
The walk around outside was neat, but we had a particular destination in mind. Here is a virtual tour…
We came to the front door, which was already gaping wide open. How convenient! It apparently isn’t always like this – I was glad not to have to enter from the basement!
It was at this point I broke out my face mask. We could see the haze. I got a good ol’ P100 dust mask – good for lead and asbestos abatement work. I was hoping it worked for mold spores too – no telling what was in that dusty haze!
This is the first look inside.
Once inside we could hear a perfect soundtrack of drips, splorts, and spatters.
We spent most of our time in this building – there was no lack of things to see and photo. It looked like there was a rave or two thrown here. The “Buddy System” is certainly a must, when exploring this area!
We weren’t the only ones there. A guy and two girls showed up about a half hour after we did. We thought they were just exploring like we were, but learned differently once we made it up to the second level. The fellow is a photographer working on a project of artistic nudes in abandoned buildings. Lucky for the girls, it was a warm day.
One of my favorite parts of the adventure was how nature was reclaiming the structures. Small trees, ferns, and mosses were everywhere there was a “skylight”. Those parts seemed almost magical to me.
Here is a slide show from my flickr acct:
HOW TO: Explore an Abandoned Building*
*Disclaimer: The author of this article does not condone breaking any laws or trespassing. This “How To” is purely for entertainment.
Bring a Buddy: Always, always use the buddy system when exploring abandoned buildings. You are exploring a place that isn’t being maintained, or monitored. If you get hurt, which is entirely possible, you need someone to help you out of the building or to run and get aid.
Dress appropriately: Long sleeves and pants. Sturdy shoes to protect your feet and support your ankles. It is probably a good idea for the shoes to be waterproof. No one likes to step in a squishy puddle of questionable liquids. I can assure you, it is nothing you want actually touching your skin.
Bring in flashlights and spotlights: Oh, and spare batteries. There are no electric lights here! The power company has abandoned this place too!
Dust mask: Check that the mask is rated P100, and or is used for lead, asbestos and mold abatement. We weren’t there long, but I wasn’t taking a chance. They are uncomfortable, and fog your glasses, but lead and asbestos dusts, and mold spores do bad, bad things in your lungs.
Be safe: The structure is abandoned and thus not maintained. Floors, stairs, surfaces may not be strong enough to hold your weight, and may be slippery. Ceilings may fall at any time – look up and take care walking under things. Know where you are at all times.
Not entirely legal: Just be aware that if you don’t own the building, it is probably not OK to be there. Check for “No Trespassing” signs. Know that you are proceeding at your own risk.
Has anyone done this kind of thing before? Is anything missing from this How To list? Let me know!
Travel, Location Independant Lifestyle, and creating your own Field Guide To Awesome!