In some ways, the island is not like a small town in a rural area of the United States, where it has become harder and harder to make a living from agriculture, and young people have fallen into the draw.
The original settlers were a family called Chan, from the Chinese province of Guangdong, who farmed salt – the name of the island means “Little Salt Farm” in English.
Many of Chan’s descendants moved to more urban areas of Hong Kong in search of work or a different kind of life. Others left the area altogether.
Nowadays, Yim Tin Sasai is no longer officially secluded. It is a part-time resident, volunteering as a caretaker who is at home. This volunteer and community representative, Colin Chan lives in the nearby town of Sai Kung – and as you can guess by his title, he is a descendant of the wanted dynasty.
Starting from the ferry pier there is a small museum and gift shop – as well as – perhaps most importantly – a public toilet.
An abandoned house near Ferry Dock.
Lilith Marcus / CNN
Pick up a kayak to get to the island – a small motorized wooden boat is often used in the middle of the small island – from the ghats of Sai Kung’s beach community.
These boats only run on weekends and holidays, although if you try to get there on weekends you may be able to rent boats from companies that are standing in front of the boat.
After starting the journey to Yim Tin Sasai (a little 15 minutes, depending on the weather), you’ll go right from the dot and immediately start walking through abandoned houses and other buildings.
Some people left furniture and other personal belongings behind when they moved away, and with Hong Kong’s hot, rainy weather, the renovation has been disrupted year after year.
Walking along the trail, you will pass houses decorated with roofs, Buddha statues you will see empty windows and other spooky scenes star
But nothing on the island was left to the elements.
Yem Tin was a heavy Catholic on the last day of Sasai.
The best preserved site on the island is St. Joseph’s Cathedral, with dramatic red and white altars inside.
The building was completed and consecrated in 1890, and behind it in the gardens is a statue of Rev. Joseph Freinademez, an Austrian priest and missionary who came to Hong Kong in 1879.
Frenademetz founded the Catholic Chapel in Yim Tin Sasa and after his death Pope John Paul II was canonized as the second saint.
Catholics in Hong Kong celebrate Frenademetz Saint’s Day on January 29 every year.
Lilith Marcus / CNN
Nowadays there is another innovation in yim tin rabbit: an art project that typically uses stained glass to depict scenes from village life.
The second annual festival is expected to take place in 2020, although the coronavirus epidemic could hold back those plans.
Either way, it’s clear that Yim Tin Soi has taken a second life well beyond her salt collection days.