Just a couple decades ago, China’s Houtouwan was a thriving fishing community, home to more than 2,000 residents. While there is still a handful of people living there, it was almost completely abandoned due to problems with education and food delivery. It’s located on the northern side of Shengshan Island, one of the Shengsi Islands, a chain of 400 islands located 40 miles east of Shanghai, China.
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Since Houtouwan was deserted, almost every building has been overgrown with beautiful vegetation, and because of this, it has become a popular tourist destination. The mass migration of the residents in the ‘90s was a common trend for these types of villages, which suffered from their remote and hard-to-access locations as well as a lack of living space, seeing many relocate to the mainland in search of employment and a better life.
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When they moved, a lot of the former villagers left now-decaying household items and furniture inside their homes. This, along with the ivy-covered exteriors, makes Houtouwan extremely surreal in the best way possible. People from all over the world come to see this amazing location, and the residents who stayed have found ways to benefit by showing tourists around and selling them water.
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The village will be included in The Ephemera Documentary, a project described as "A 300-days solo expedition to explore the most evanescent places on Earth before they disappear, and tell about them in a mobile, live documentary.” The filmmakers explored the area and the people who never left, including a man who cultivates the unused fecund land around the abandoned two-stories houses. Watch the segment on Houtouwan below...