Saturday, April 4: Included in my Big Bus *Hong Kong* tour is a sampan ride in Aberdeen Harbour. A sampan is a relatively flat-bottomed Chinese boat which sometimes includes a small shelter on board. On inland waters, sampans are sometimes used as permanent dwellings. They’re usually used for transport in coastal areas or rivers, and are also often used as traditional fishing boats. Sampans cannot survive rough waters, so they generally stay close to shore.
A bunch of us tourists pile out of the Big Bus only to be shuffled straight away into a colorful sampan by a lady at the dock. Within minutes, we’re underway.
The ceiling inside the sampan is quite colorful and decorated with lanterns, paper fans and paper flowers.
As we boost off from shore, we can see skyscrapers hugging the shores of the Aberdeen Harbour and fancy yachts anchored in the water.
Aberdeen is the largest separate town on the south side of Hong Kong Island, with a population of around 80,000 (2011). It’s one of nine harbours in Hong Kong and is famous not only to tourists, but also to Hong Kong locals, for its floating village and floating seafood restaurants.
We head under the bridge and make a big circle around the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
The area is a thriving fishing port; its fleet of family-run trawlers provide about a third of Hong Kong’s fish and prawn catch. Dozens of ethnic Tanka people, boat people who are generally associated with the fishing industry and often live on junks in China, live here on boats in the harbour.
On the sampan ride, we see, in addition to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, other sampans, yachts, houseboats hung with laundry and outfitted with outdoor kitchens, commercial boats and fishing trawlers.
There are a lot of colorful and characterful vessels on the harbor. It’s a perfect breezy day for being out on a boat.
Our little boat ride doesn’t last long, only about a half hour, and then we’re deposited back on the shore to wait for the Big Bus to snatch us off our wobbly sea legs.