Trip on a sampan
When Hong Kong was still a peaceful and tiny fishing village, sampans were the fishermen's only transportation. Luckily, sampans haven't faded out of Hong Kong's history as time has gone by. You can still take an enjoyable ride on a sampan in among juggernauts of cargo vessels travelling in the bustling and busy harbor. So get ready for a bumpy ride!!!
The sampan is a tiny boat of only about 6 to 7 meters long from its head to its end. It is also incredibly slim, of only about one to two meters wide. The main construction material for the boat is wood which makes it look like a floating leaf on the sea. The sampan has an ancient appearance. Metal wires bent into a dome-shaped is put on top of the sampan to form a simple but effective shelter with clothe or hard plastic covering. This shields the passengers from rain and the hot sun. The motor of the boat hides under a wooden canopy at the end and produces a traditional noisiness which vibrates throughout the whole journey once it is switched on. Only one person is needed to control and steer the boat by turning the motor in specific angles and directions. The significant markings of the sampans are of course the various old rubber tyres hanging on the sides of the sampan to reduce the force of impact when the boat leaves or docks. Passengers are often offered wooden, wet benches which seem incredibly vulnerable under the person's weight. Nevertheless, the rickety benches are sea-hardened and more than adequate for the largest of visitors.
The sampan is a tiny boat, so don't expect it to be as steady as an ocean liner, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Once you've stepped on the boat, you can immediately feel the extraordinary wavy feeling of the sampan. When all the passengers are boarded, the "captain" who is often furnished with a traditional triangular Hakka hat, will activate the engine and a smell of burnt oil will encompass the whole boat. Trust me, you will soon get used to the smell when mixed with the fresh air thundering in the harbor. The sampan rides with incredible speed and in a minute you'll find yourself ‘flying' across the open sea. The boat will continuously rise up and down on the waves so don't panic. Water sprays and ocean droplets will fly through the whole boat and the wind will be pleasant. You'll suddenly discover a sense of naturalness in Hong Kong. When large ships come by, the huge waves created will rock the boat up and down, right to left, but never will the sampan be overturned, if it does, have no fear, as all sampans are fully equipped with life jackets. So, be prepared to bump your hearts out and embrace the adventure of the Hong Kong sampan ride.
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Published on 3/19/10