April 17, 2012

Sandy Ridge Cemetery

I thought I'd end up with a pretty lame post, if one at all, when I took these shots of a cemetery I saw in the distance yesterday. Instead, my online research unearthed some interesting information I did not know even after 27 years in the region.

This is Sandy Ridge Cemetery, known as Shaling by the locals.

Hong Kong, 2012

These photos show just the top section of one of the larger cemeteries in the Hong Kong New Territories. It is one of nearly one hundred named burial grounds in this Special Administrative Region.


The cemetery was opened in 1949 and holds the mortal remains of a mix of Buddhists and Christians in both coffins and urns.

But it is perhaps unlikely that I will get to visit Shaling Cemetery anytime soon; first, because it's hard to get to, and second, because it's located in a 28 square kilometer area of land bordering the Shenzhen River and China that is closed to all but locals and those with special permits to enter (this is the most interesting part I did not know). There is, however, a plan to reduce the size of this area significantly, and already there are places open to visitors. I'll have to find out whether the cemetery can be accessed by non-relatives. 



In the early 2000s, the Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene began a program to remove, cremate and place in the urn sections the human remains of parts of various cemeteries in Hong Kong, including this one. Families could apply for permission to do a private exhumation and make their own arrangements. I'd like to find out more about that program, too.

This may be of interest to the community at Taphophile Tragics.

18 comments:

Gemma Wiseman said...

Amazing how many secrets there are behind the evolution of cemeteries! This is fascinating! And that hillside appears quite steep!

Herding Cats said...

How interesting. I hope one day you'll get to explore this amazing cemetery.

VioletSky said...

Seriously, just the photo alone makes this not a lame post! Imagine climbing all those steps to get to your loved one's gravesite at the top!

Joe Todd said...

You have a very interesting post and blog.. Happy travels

cieldequimper said...

Good grief, that's an extraordinary post.

hamilton said...

One advantage to keeping the area closed to people is that it has not become overrun with development. Still, it would be an interesting place to visit.

Deb said...

Great picture of a 'teraced' cemetery. Wonder if it is more prestigious to be buried at the top or bottom of the hill? Interesting that this is still a closed area.

FrankandMary said...

I enjoy a good cemetery walk, & I am observant to a fault while traveling through. I find them engrossing. ~Mary

Al said...

That looks like such a beautiful area, it's a shame you can't get in to it. Nice shots and interesting information.

Ann said...

Even without the text it would be an interestiing post, simply from its location.

CaT said...

interesting!
and yes, i agree, that cemetery on such a steep hill is not lame at all!!

H said...

It suggests that, when the restricted area is reduced, the planners will move in and the ecology will be compromised. With land so sought after in Hong Kong, how could it be any other way? What a pity :(

Julie said...

That top photo, Francisca, makes it apparent that unliess the authorities are eternally vigilant, the jungle will overrun the cemetery with a decade or so.

Interesting that the Dept of F&E was charged with enforcing the 'you-will-cremate' dictat. How hard would that be to enforce, and to follow up. And heart-breaking for a society that reveres its ancestors to a fault.

Yes, please if you find out more about the availability of entry permits for non-relatives ... but go into serious aerobic training first.

I smile at your pinpointed location on the map!!

Vicki/Jake said...

Trying to catch up on blog reading again! Hope all is going well with the fund raising, you're amazing:) The mural painting on the plant(?) was interesting and so is this cemetery. How odd that you can't get to it because of a little strip of land...
Stay safe Cisca xox

Pat Tillett said...

wow! What an amazing place and very interesting information. I hope you are able to go in there someday.

Halcyon said...

Very impressive cemetery!

JM said...

These look like beehives. Fantastic view!

Francisca said...

A few of you have surmised that opening this closed area in the HK SAR will affect the nature there. You are correct and there are environmentalists who have raised the issue of the negative impact on the rich ecology (animal and plant habitats) of the area.