Where have all the sampans gone?
This 1962 slide of Hong Kong brings warmth to my heart on a cold Chicago day.
Every time my mom visited me in Hong Kong, she’d reminisce about the sampans that used to line the harbor. But the only sampans I ever saw were tourist ones: burnt orange-red, polished wood, overloaded with foreigners.
So when I found this slide, I could better picture what she described all those years ago.
Boats of many sizes were normal means of transportation back then. Before the advent of the MTR (subway) or cross-harbor tunnel, smaller boats called walla-wallas (電船仔) carried passengers between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. They came in handy especially after the Star Ferry stopped running for the night.
Ferries still shuttle passengers between Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the outlaying islands, especially Lamma, Lantau, and Cheung Chau. And then there are all the transportation options to Macau (hovercraft, jet foil, high-speed ferry).
But to me, there’s nothing quite like a sampan out on the open sea.