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Chinese Junk Ships, a living legend in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the most prosperous metropolises in Eastern Asia. Many describe this beautiful city as "the oriental pearl", "shopaholic's paradise", or "culinary capital of Asia". All these names crown Hong Kong with fashion, style, modern, and prosperity. However, the charms of Hong Kong is not limited to its modern face. In fact, Hong Kong is a city of contrast with tradition deeply rooted in its society.

From 1405 to 1433, the legendary Chinese Admiral Zheng He had command a huge naval fleet of some hundreds of Chinese junk ships to carry out the Chinese Emperor's will of showcasing the empire's glory and establishing diplomatic links with unknown countries in the world. His fleet has farthest reached the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. It has been also rumored that Zheng He had discovered America before Columbus. His legendary fleets had been sunk or burned down, and the crew had been decommissioned, jailed, and even executed when the brutal new king came to power. The legend of great navigation era of Chinese ended tragically. In the following hundreds of years, Chinese were banned by the kings to conduct any marine activities.

Luckily, in the far south of China, a fishing village of Hong Kong, the descendants of Zheng He's crew had not forgotten the techniques of making and sailing Chinese junks. The legend of Chinese junks has lived on. Aberdeen is now a harbor area crowded with junks and sampans, where 6,000 people live and work on junks.

Junk is a type of Chinese wooden boat with a flat bottom. The largest junk ship built in the history is Zheng He's treasure ship, measured 140 meters long with 9 masts. Its anchors were recorded half ton heavy each. Its mainmast unearthed in 1985 was measured11.07 meters high above deck. Chinese junk is regarded by researchers as the most successful design of wooden sea ships in history. Its flat bottom allows the ship to dock in shallow water, and reduces the risk of hitting on submerged reefs. The sails of a junk include several horizontal members or sections with line attached to their trailing edges. Sailors therefore can easily reef and adjust the sails on the deck without risking their life to climb up and down the masts. This design also makes the sails more resistant to large tears, as a tear is only limited to a single section.

Most junks in the Aberdeen harbor are small with approximately 12 to 15 feet long. It usually has a small shelter on board and people just live inside. If you sailed on a junk, you could see the fisherman's daily work and taste the delicious sea food at one of the junk restaurants. The junk restaurants offer fresh and delicious sea food at reasonable prices. Besides of this, it is always interesting to see the strong comparison between the modern Hong Kong and the traditional Hong Kong. Aberdeen is a peaceful place amongst the bustling metropolis. Visiting the most traditional part of Hong Kong lifestyle is going to be a unique experience.

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