Feature Story

Transport

International Analogy

Sampans are still in use by rural residents of Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

Fishermen in Tai O use sampans, a relatively flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boat of about 3.5 to 4.5 metres long, as their daily transportation method across the waterways.

The word "sampan" comes from the original Cantonese term for the boats, literally meaning "three planks", although this term is frowned upon in modern Chinese. The name referred to the hull's design, which consists of a flat bottom (made from one plank) joined to two sides (the other two planks). The design closely resembles Western hard chine boats like the scow or punt.

Some sampans include a small shelter on board, and may be used as permanent habitation on inland waters. Sampans are generally used for transportation on rivers, and are often used as traditional fishing boats.

Sampans have since become an iconic symbol of the tranquil fishing village.