Jane Qing is a photographer. In June 2015, she took photos of a deserted area. The purpose of her photos was to show what would happen to urban areas if humans were to disappear from them. Her photos are very telling, and they make you wonder, what would have caused a person to leave their homes in masses in the first place?
The photos that Jane took were of a village known as Houtou Wan. It is located on Gouqi Island, which is one of around 400 small pieces of land that make up the Zhoushan archipelago. The village is only 40 miles away from Shanghai, China. The area is at a point where the Yangtze rivers flow into the East China Sea, making it a vital waterway. The river is about 3,900-miles and is the longest river in Asia. The island isn’t abandoned, and it is a tourist attraction, complete with swimming facilities and seafood restaurants.
Houtou Wan suffered severe economic issues. People stopped moving there because there weren’t many jobs available. Those who did live there left. The village was once a fishing village. Residents made their money catching fish that they sold to neighboring communities. In the late 1980s, over 3,000 people were living in the village. The fishing industry was flourishing until fishing vessels arrived in the waters around the village. With these vessels in the water catching the fish, there wasn’t much left for the residents of Houtou Wan, who relied on fish for their economic survival.
As the fishing industry dried up in the village, it suffered more issues. Due to its remote, hard-to-access location, the people found it more and more challenging to live there. In the ’90s, many residents abandoned their homes in the village to move elsewhere. They needed to find a place to live where they would thrive, which was no longer possible in the village. By 2002, the once-thriving fishing community had become officially declared, depopulated. This was around the same time that the village became part of another in the local vicinity.
People started to leave around 30 years ago, and it has been almost 20 since the last resident abandoned their home. Since then, Mother Nature has moved in and completely taken over the village. The buildings are covered with leaves and thick green moss. Some of the buildings have become so enveloped with moss that if it weren’t for the windows in the homes, you wouldn’t know that a building even stood there. The photos that Jane captured of the village are incredible. They were published in 2015 and gave people all over the world a glimpse into the abandoned village. While she took the photos as a warning to people of what would happen to their community, if they left, something else happened. Thanks to her photo, the village of Houtou Wan wasn’t dead yet.
The photos taken from Jane garnered a great deal of attention. It became a viral sensation, and it led to Houtou Wan becoming a popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, getting there are looking around wasn’t as easy as people had hoped at first. The first step to getting there was to head to the mainland of China. To get to the village, you would need to fly into Shanghai. Next, you would need to catch a bus to the waterside, and then get on a ferry to Shengshan Island. The ferry ride alone would take about four hours. When you get off the ferry, you would only be halfway to the village. After the ferry docks, you would have to find a taxi to take you the rest of the way to Gouqi, and then on to Houtou Wan.
The island has absolutely no amenities or comforts of travel. You cannot stay overnight in a hotel because there aren’t any. This means trying to find a place to stay in a neighboring community. It isn’t impossible to get to the village, but it takes a great deal of determination. In 2015, a representative from Shengshan released a statement saying that the village wasn’t ready for tourists. Their phone lines were jammed from tourists wanting to visit the village. In the statement, they urged tourists to stay away from the village to preserve its tranquility for a while. It wouldn’t be a couple of years before officials announced that the village was ready to welcome tourists.
Changes in the 24-Months
It took the officials 24-months to allow tourists to the area because they needed to put a few features in place first. They wanted to help tourists get the most out of their experience while making a profit. To visit the village, you need to pay a $7 admission. For an additional charge, you can view the village from an observation deck. This costs an extra $3. For the cost of admission, you can take a self-guided tour around the village. There are signs on the buildings that have been deemed unsafe. Many people have visited the village since it officially opened for business. A report in 2017 says that since the village became a tourist attraction, $100,000 had come in from tourists. Something very creepy is happening to this deserted Chinese fishing village, and for $7 to $10, you can see it for yourself.