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A Floating Future

Gitty Luria

Do you love water? You may be a prime candidate for sea steading — living on the sea in floating villages

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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S ince the beginning of time, civilizations have developed around bodies of water; after all, we all need a constant supply of water. But some have taken it one step further. They live not near the water, but on it.

Why would anyone live on the water? And how did they end up living like that?

You’re not the only one with questions. Do you share my curiosity about the amazing ways humans have adapted to live on water? Well, then, pack your bags and take a seat — or rather, a cabin — as we get a taste of life on some of the world’s most popular floating villages.

Aberdeen Fishing Village, Hong Kong Harbor

See those majestic skyscrapers gracing the skyline? That tells us we’re approaching our first destination. No, we’re not visiting the skyscrapers, but the 600-something boats floating lazily in the harbor. Yup, that’s a village! Have you ever spent a night on a boat? Well, these villagers actually live in them. Let’s carefully weave through the boats (called sampans and junks) to get a better glimpse. Or better yet, let’s have one of the locals take us around; it is, after all, their main source of income.

A native Aberdeen guide isn’t hard to find. “Looking for a guide?” a deep voice calls out from under a large sunhat. He removes his hat to reveal a wrinkled, deeply tanned face. “Looks like a lot of boats, eh? You’d be surprised to know that at its peak, our village had a population of 6,000. Recently, an increasing number of residents have acquired a second home on land, but many, like myself, still call their boats ‘home.’ ”

The wooden planks creak under our feet as we stroll along the dock, and the smell of fish is getting quite strong. “Many of our people still fish as their source of income,” our guide clarifies, “though many, like yours truly, enjoy showing our guests around!” He shows us around his boat, or rather — home. It resembles a mobile home, and we must admit it looks rather homey.

“This may seem like a third-world village, but see that gaudy boat over there?” he points past the fishermen. “That’s the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, the world’s largest floating restaurant!”

We would love to see more, but it’s getting dark. Back to our boat! 

 

Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru

We awake to find ourselves surrounded by reeds. And huts of reeds. And villagers paddling by in long, banana-shaped reeds boats. What is this, reed town? A man dressed in colorful robes with a straw hat over his dark braids waves to us. “Welcome to the Uros Islands!” He paddles over to us. His attire looks like those of a few centuries ago, not surprisingly, as we soon find out. “Our tribes have been around since before the Incas! Come, let me show you around.” Our boat rocks gently in the waves beside his, and soon we hit the shore. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 692)

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