Aberdeen floating village

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Aberdeen Floating Village
Aberdeen Floating Village.JPG
General information
Type House
Location Aberdeen
Southern District
 Hong Kong
Boats at the Aberdeen Floating Village.
Scenery of the Aberdeen Floating Village.

Aberdeen floating village (Chinese: 香港仔水上人家) is located at the Aberdeen Harbour in the Southern District of Hong Kong. The harbour contains approximately 600 junks, which house an estimated 6,000 people.

Since the 19th century, Aberdeen has emerged as one of the most important fishing ports in Hong Kong. Now in Aberdeen, as the catering and tourism industries are on the rise,[1] so is the demand for seafood. In the past two decades, the population of the Aberbeen Floating Village community has decreased [1] due to rapid fisheries development in the nearby Guangdong Province and the increase in operating costs of the fishing industry in Hong Kong. Instead of living on the boat permanently, now the majority of the boat people only fish on the boat during the day.

History of boat people in Hong Kong[edit]


The people living on boats in Aberdeen are mainly Tanka, a group which arrived in Hong Kong around the 7-9th century. While sometimes referred to as "boat people", they are in fact boat dwellers and should not be confused with the unrelated Vietnamese refugees boat people, who came to Hong Kong by boat in the 1970s.[2]

The total population of boat dwellers in Hong Kong was estimated at 2,000 in 1841,[3] 150,000 in 1963[4] and at 40,000 in 1982.[5]

Aberdeen floating village[edit]

Aberdeen's temple to Tin Hau attest to a long tradition of marine and fishing cultures and traditions in Hong Kong.[6] Aberdeen's role as a port emerged between the 14th and 17th centuries when sandalwood (taang heung muk) arrived in junks from Lantau Island and Sha Tin.[6] The waters of Aberdeen served as the intermediary, dispatching the sandalwood into larger boats up the East China coast to major cities in China.[6]

The Aberdeen Dragon Boat Race[edit]

The Duanwu Festival (the fifth day of the fifth month in the Lunar calendar) is an event of tremendous importance to Hong Kong fishermen. Dragon boat racing in Hong Kong commenced around the 1900s. Fishermen think that rowing dragon boats during the Duanwu festival will bring them luck. Aberdeen was one of the earliest places to host dragon boat races in Hong Kong.

Aberdeen hosts the Aberdeen Dragon Boat race each year, an event which has received a lot of community support.[7] Today, Aberdeen still continues with its tradition of holding races for long dragon boats which carry 48 paddlers.[7] The standard of paddling and teamwork amongst the racers is very high.


A family living on a boat.

Although now Aberdeen has been transformed into a semi-commercial district, it has still maintained the style of a fishing village. Some of the residents of Aberdeen actively engage in boat activities. They still mainly rely on the boat for daily living, working, and chatting amongst each other. Some common boat activities include: fish salt-processing, washing fish and driving and being a tour guide on the sightseeing sampans on the waterfront.[8]

Boat restaurants[edit]

Some boat people are employed at boat restaurants, which sell fresh seafood mainly for tourists. The chefs in the restaurants use traditional methods to cook fresh seafood to provide tourists with a taste of Aberdeen.[8]

Sightseeing sampans[edit]

Sightseeing Sampans map.

Some boat people drive and are tour guides for sightseeing sampans on the waterfront. When people are walking along the shore, the boat people would invite them for a boat travel to some small islands nearby or the surrounding area for around 20 to 30 minutes.[8] The tour guide would introduce the scenic and special points of those areas to the tourists during the ride. After that, they will charge a fee of around $50 to $80 Hong Kong dollars.[8]

Fish catching[edit]

At least once a day, boat people drive their boats out to the surrounding areas to catch fish. They will then hand them over to the wholesalers in the Fish Marketing Organization (F.M.O) for further wholesaling, or simply sell them directly to wet markets or seafood restaurants.[8]

Non-boat people living in the Aberdeen Floating Village[edit]

There are many other people in Aberdeen who neither live nor work on boats.[9] Most of these people consume fresh seafood from small-scale fish boats, or go to seafood restaurants to dine. There are two famous floating restaurants in Aberdeen: the Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant.[9] In addition to food, non-boat people also go to the marine parks at the waterfront for leisure activities, such as doing exercise, stretching or simply chatting with their neighbors.[9]

Fishing methods[edit]

Trawling is the most common and significant method used nowadays by the fishermen in the South and East China seas. The type of trawling method used depends on which type of fish the fisherman intends to catch.[10]

Shrimp catching[edit]

To catch shrimp, fishermen use the shrimp trawling operation, during which they would throw small bags into the sea to catch shrimp.[10]

Fish Catching[edit]

For catching other marine animals such as fish, different methods are used. For the gill-netting operation, the fish boat would pull a long net at its back, which fish will flow into. For the seine fishing operation, fishermen will place a rounded net into the sea when they see a school of fish swim by. The long-lining operation consists of the fish boat pulling a string, tagged with little fish, to attract and lure the fish onto the string.[10]

Fishing junks[edit]

Shrimp Trawlers are used to catch shrimp using the shrimp-trawling method. However, shrimp trawlers only account for a very small portion of trawlers in Hong Kong. Currently, the most common trawlers in Hong Kong, are the Hang Trawlers, Sten Trawlers, Purse Seniers and Gill-Netters.[10] All of these local fishing boat junks were mechanized only after the Pacific War.[10]

Fishing industry in Aberdeen[edit]

Drying salt fish caught in the waters of Aberdeen.

Before the 1950s, salt fish was the major catch sold in Aberdeen.[11] Today, Aberdeen is the only fishing port in the Southern District in Hong Kong. It continues to play an important role in the fishing industry. The catch of fish in the Aberdeen port accounts for over one-third of the total catch of fish in Hong Kong.[11] During the Fishing Moratorium Period (June and July), more than 1,000 fishing vessels are anchored at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.[11]

The fish marketing organization[edit]

The fish market at the Aberdeen floating village organized by the F.M.O.

The Fish Marketing Organization (F.M.O) is a self- financed, non-profit-making organization which provides marketing services for fishermen and fish retailers at the Aberdeen floating village.[12] F.M.O's income derives from the commission on sales and surplus earnings. F.M.O's earnings are used to improve the facilities of the Aberdeen Floating Village.[12] Wholesale fish markets operated by the F.M.O are located along the Aberdeen Promenade. Every morning the fish market is crowded with fishermen, fish sellers and buyers.[12]


Aberdeen boat people are well known for their floating restaurants which serve fresh seafood caught directly from their own boats. Each floating restaurant serves different types of seafood, each with a unique Cantonese cuisine flavor. Some boat people sell fresh seafood, dried fish and salt fish on their own small boats along the coast.[8]

Fish ball noodles[edit]

A bowl of "Fish Ball Noodles" with fish balls, meatballs and fish spring rolls.

Every morning the Aberdeen boat people catch fresh fish to make fish balls. These fish balls are used to create the local Aberdeen specialty: 'Fish Ball Noodles'. Boat people make their own noodles for this specialty, and use simple but traditional and unique ways to cook the fish ball noodles. Every evening at 6pm,people from all over Hong Kong come and visit the village to enjoy the limited dishes of 'Fish Ball Noodles'.[8]


From fishing to tourism[edit]

The fishing port of Aberdeen has been a major tourist attraction to the local population and tourists due its beautiful scenery and tasty seafood. Since the 1960s, the Hong Kong Tourist Association and the government of Hong Kong have been active participants in promoting the tourism sector of Aberdeen; thereby benefiting the catering and travel industries in the area.[1]

Ferries and sampans of Aberdeen[edit]

Aberdeen is well known for its movies with traditional rowing boats and the boat-fishing villages. Along the Aberdeen Promenade, there are multiple ferryboats and a lead-way to Ap Lei Chau, Lamma and Po Toi. There are also a series of shuttle ferries to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. There are also sampans for hire for sightseeing.[1]


Jumbo Floating Restaurant[edit]

Main article: Jumbo Kingdom

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Aberdeen. It is a double-storey boat, which serves Cantonese–style cooked seafood on board. Despite its high-quality food, the dining atmosphere is the main attraction of the restaurant. The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is filled mostly with tourists and locals who bring their overseas business clients and foreign friends for a taste of traditional Hong Kong life.[1]

The sampans of Aberdeen[edit]

Although now Aberdeen has been transformed into a semi-commercial district, it has still maintained the style of a fishing village. One should never leave Aberdeen without taking a ride on a traditional sampan to cruise around the typhoon shelter or to cross the waters to Ap Lei Chau. The sampans to Ap Lei Chau are provided with the Octopus Card (the multi-purpose store valued smart card system in Hong Kong).[1]

Aberdeen Country Park[edit]

The Aberdeen Country Park is built around the reservoirs on the southern side of Hong Kong. The Aberdeen Country Park flourishes in leisure trails and attractive promenades. The longest trail can actually be completed within an hour. The Aberdeen Country Park is more than just a park; in more practical terms, the Hong Kong Tourist Association has established an information centre in the park’s southern section for the documentation of informative pamphlets, further contributing to the educational sector of the park.[1]

Aberdeen Tin Hau Temple[edit]

The Tin Hau Temple in Aberdeen was founded in 1851, and it serves the purpose of commemorating Tin Hau. Every April, the temple flourishes with ceremonies for the purpose of celebrating Tin Hau's birthday. During the ceremony, people decorate their boats on the Aberdeen shores and lion dances are performed outside the temple.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Development of tourism in Aberdeen." from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.
  2. ^ Architectural Conservation Office, HKSAR Government. (2008). Heritage Impact Assessment Report of the Yau Ma Tei Theatre & Red Brick Building, p.5
  3. ^ Roger Nissim: Land administration and practice in Hong Kong, 2008, p.17 ISBN 962-209-848-7
  4. ^ Observations on the Spread of Cholera in Hong Kong, 1961-1932
  5. ^ "Recent developments in the Hong Kong Government", by Kathleen Cheek-Milby, (1983)
  6. ^ a b c Ingham, M. (2007). "Hong Kong, A Cultural History", New York: Oxford University Press, p.139.
  7. ^ a b "Customs of Fishermen" from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Lifestyles of Fishermen" from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c “A short guide to Aberdeen.” from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Fishing Methods" from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.
  11. ^ a b c "Development of the Fishing Industry in Aberdeen" from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.
  12. ^ a b c "Development of the Fish Marketing Organization" from sign at Aberdeen Floating Village, Published by: Southern District Council, Hong Kong. Date visited: October 12, 2009.