Here you see rows upon rows of the old-fashioned junks and sampans, some house boats where the fishermen and their families still live, (at least for some 9 months of the year) all going on their daily routines, which now include mobile phones and satellite dishes.
It is a very picturesque scene, with the unexpected touch of modernity right and left. The high-rises framing the harbour and the ultra-modern yacths moored not far away complete this picture of contrasts.
Aberdeen Fishing Village and the Aberdeen Harbour are a feast for photographers and very much worth a look, you can get a sense for what things were like long ago and how modern life is catching up to the old traditions, which stubbornly co-exist with contemporary amenities.
Aberdeen Harbour has the distinct honour of being the first place where the British set foot upon arriving in Hong Kong. Back then, Aberdeen was the center of the incense trade, this is how Hong Kong got its name, it literally means "Fragrant Harbour".
Aberdeen continues to be a thriving and busy harbour, and is still home to the boat-dwelling Tanka people. You will see the old ladies still dressed in traditional ways, peddling the catch of the day and the sampan rides around the harbour for the tourists, these are two of Aberdeen's main industries at work, fishing and tourism.
Let's take a look...
Aberdeen Harbour Sampans and Fishing Boats
High Rise Buildings framing Aberdeen Harbour
Modern Yacths moore along traditional fishing boats
New and Old: Traditional Fishing Boats and Sampans under the shade of Ultra Modern Buildings
Seafood Catch, Drying Fish
The Aberdeen Promenade that runs along the coast is the beginning of the action. Taxis, public and tourist buses will drop you off here.
It has been newly renovated, here you will find bathroom facilities, vending machines, nice areas to just sit and people watch, or stroll and watch all the action.
At one end of the promenade will be the Dried Seafood Stalls and Seafood Market with the daily catch, check out all sorts of seafood being bartered away to the seafood restaurants and wholesalers.
Aberdeen is a very busy fishing port, it accounts for one-third of the total catch in Hong Kong.
Also along the promenade you will find the starting point for the ferries to the Floating Restaurants...
There is a Ferry stop for the Jumbo and one for the Tai Pak
...The many "Sampan Ride" stations...
You will find the Sampan Ride Stations all along the Promenade, but more likely, the little old ladies that run the boats will find you first!
... and the ferry to Ap Lei Chau, the little island just across...
Ferry stop to Ap Lei Chau, you can use your Octopus Card for the inexpensive ride accross
A Sampan Ride through the Harbour is a great way to see Aberdeen in action. And finding a Sampan will be no trouble at all, the Tanka women will be on to you before you know it. Expect to be approached not once, not twice, but several times until you do get into one.
The asking price is around HK 80 per person which you can bargain down to HK 50 or even less if you have several in your group. Make sure you negotiate this beforehand.
The rides are around 25-30 minutes long and they zip you from the docks in the Aberdeen Promenade for a closer look to the floating village, amongst the ferries, trawlers, junks, fishing boats traversing the waters, the boat-dwellers enjoying a cup of tea or going on their daily chores in their floating homes, the shipyards along the sides, and also for a close-up look at the Floating Restaurants.
Let's go for a ride!
The Sampan Ride will take you amongst the floating villages, the house boats are inhabited and contain all of modern life ammenities including washers, stoves, satellite dishes... some people even plant little roof top gardens
You will see the boat dwellers going around their daily routines: cleaning and putting away fishing gear, relaxing with a cup of tea, playing mahjong...
Fishing Boats, anchored, coming and going at all times...
The Sampan Ride will also get you close to the Floating Restaurants, tour boats stop for a moment for pictures.
Getting to Aberdeen is easy with Bus 70 from Exchange Square. Take the Hong Kong Station MTR Exit D to get to Exchange Square Bus Terminal, Bus 70 will bring you to the Aberdeen Promenade. Remember you can use your Octopus Card to pay the fare. Sit in the upper deck, the vistas as you approach the coast are very nice.
There is no MTR service for Aberdeen at the moment. The MTR line is being extended to reach Aberdeen and is scheduled for completion in 2015.
You can also take a taxi which should be about HK$60-70 from Central. You find the Taxi stands also at the Aberdeen Promenade when you are ready to return.
Many of the city tours offered by operators make a stop here at Aberdeen. We like Viator's Hong Kong Island Half-Day Tour, which at about US$36 per person is great value and covers a lot of the highlights, it is a great introduction for first-timers.
Aberdeen is also a stop on the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus. You have to take the Green Route which connects at the Central Star Ferry Pier and services Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and Stanley.
After your visit to Aberdeen why not continue heading south? Repulse Bay is nearby and is one of the most popular beaches for HK dwellers, but the main attraction for visitors is the colorful temple overlooking the bay, it is a very unique setting. Just hop on any bus heading down to Stanley via Repulse Bay (or on your Hop On Hop Off bus) Take a look at Repulse Bay!
Hong Kong Island Highlights Half Day Tour. This comprehensive half-day tour
is a great way to get to know Hong Kong Island and its famous landmarks and history.
The tour lasts approximately 5 hours with pick up points at several Hong Kong and Kowloon hotels.
More Hong Kong Tours here.
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Here is to a wonderful Hong Kong travel experience!
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Views from the Peak... Sampans at Aberdeen... Stanley Market...
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