Shining a Light on Heritage

A rural Hong Kong village abandoned in the 1970s has been reconnected to the electricity grid and brought back to life, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy its Hakka heritage and ecological environment.

Shining a Light on Heritage

A rich history stretching back more than 300 years disappeared beneath dense undergrowth when, in the 1970s, the inhabitants of a remote Hakka village abandoned it to move into urban areas or abroad.


Now, half a century on, Mui Tsz Lam in Hong Kong’s northeastern New Territories has sprung back to life after villagers and their descendants lovingly rescued it from the clutches of nature and recruited the help of CLP to reconnect it to the electricity grid.


Digging up the past

The project began in 2017 when villagers of Mui Tsz Lam and a cluster of other nearby Hakka settlements – who would return for ceremonies once a decade – decided to restore the village for cultural tourism.


“All the pathways were blocked by undergrowth and we had to climb through them,” village representative Tsang Yuk On recalls. Together with other volunteers, they gradually cleared the paths and planted fruit trees.


They then contacted CLP to ask for a power supply to be provided to complete the process of preparing the village for visitors. “Without electricity and water, our efforts would be futile,” Tsang says.

A historic challenge

Reconnecting a village that had been without power for nearly half a century was a daunting task. Its remote location posed huge logistical challenges.


Mui Tsz Lam is a 40-minute walk from the nearest ferry pier at Lai Chi Wo and CLP workers had to carry nearly five kilometres of cables along hiking trails and use helicopters to deliver heavy equipment such as transformers and poles. The whole project took two years to complete. 


Cable jointing work had to be completed outside of weekends to minimise the impact on hikers, CLP Power System Engineer Terence Cheung explains. To complicate matters, Super Typhoon Mangkhut battered the area and held up construction work in 2018.


“Fallen trees blocked all accesses. Our workers had to clear the walkways to continue with their work,” Cheung says. Despite the obstacles, however, the engineers strived to restore power supply.


The success of the project depended on trust and cooperation between the community, the private sector, and the government, says Tsang. And now the lights are on, villagers have the opportunity to develop eco-tourism and offer visitors a unique glimpse of Hong Kong’s past.

Electric poles
CLP restores power to a village abandoned nearly half a century ago.

Decades of support

The project continues a long history of cooperation between villagers in the area and CLP. In 1951, CLP’s founding family set up the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association to help farmers in post-war Hong Kong become self-sustaining.


The association donated money to build a well in Mui Tsz Lam in 1954, giving residents access to a clean and stable supply of water.


Visit to the restored well
Mui Tsz Lam village representative Tsang Yuk On (fourth from right) and other villagers visit the restored well donated by the Kadoorie family.

Nearly seven decades later, CLP is continuing its tradition of critical support for Mui Tsz Lam by bringing electricity back for the village’s rebirth in a new era.


“The charitable ethos is an integral part of the CLP culture,” says CLP Power Chief Corporate Development Officer Quince Chong, who visited the village to inspect the project.


“The power restoration project is truly an embodiment of the colourful history and shared vision for the future of CLP and the communities. We have also installed smart meters in homes for villagers to understand their consumption patterns and manage their electricity use to save energy.”

Watch the video and enjoy the sights and sounds of the village.
Artists paint murals showing village life as described by residents of Mui Tsz Lam.

Villagers are keen to welcome people to learn about their culture. In addition to the Mui Tsz Lam Story Museum that was opened last year, artists have painted murals to help tell the village’s story.


With revitalisation and conservation projects granted approval under the Hong Kong government’s Countryside Conservation Funding Scheme, cultural experience tours will be launched for visitors to enjoy overnight stays at guesthouses in the village.


After years of neglect, the future for Mui Tsz Lam is brighter than ever as more and more people take an interest in their history and heritage. The village’s forgotten days lost beneath undergrowth and cut off from the modern world are behind it.