Delving Into the Secret Lives of Old Hong Kong Buildings

“I follow Sacha on social media, and I see all the photos that she takes of all these beautiful abandoned places all over Hong Kong, so it was kind of exciting to think: Where are we going, and what is it going to be like? And, you know, what stories will the place tell?” Ms. Chao said. “But I had no idea, and I did not know that the meal itself was going to be so beautifully set up and grand.”

Despite having no running water and limited electricity on site, Ms. Yasumoto was able to work with a French-trained Japanese chef to set up a fine dining experience there: fancy place settings, candlelight, a table overflowing with roses, all at 3,600 Hong Kong dollars ($460) per person.

The members of HK Urbex are also driven by the thrill of going places most people don’t get to go. Over the years, they’ve explored abandoned cinemas, bomb shelters and subway tunnels.

Recently, several members of the group explored an old way station for British soldiers, later used as a malaria camp, then turned into an artists’ commune. The grounds were overgrown, taken over by the jungle, but two buildings were still intact, windows cracked and covered in a thin layer of orange and green lichen.

As they moved through the space, the trio — who declined to be named, because they were trespassing — examined every detail: doors rotted off hinges, a modern-looking fabric wall panel that wouldn’t be out of place in a college classroom, but very out of place in the 1920s structure. There was also an odd assortment of things left behind, including a large Snorlax Pokémon plushie and a bulbous computer monitor from the 1990s.

Explorers don’t often share the location of these sites, worried that they might be damaged by thrill seekers. The collective adheres to three standard Urbex rules: take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints.

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