National Geographic : 1962 Jan
KODACHROMESBY MELVILLEBELL GROSVENOR(ABOVE), BRIAN BRAKE, MAGNUM(OPPOSITE), AND EKTACHROMEBY JOHN SCOFIELD © N.G .S. Floating shop parades its wares past the sampan homes of customers. Crocks hold pickled cabbage, and the glass case displays cakes. A single sweep at the stern propels the boat. Storekeeper greets shoppers in a water taxi. Water Folk Live in a Forest of Masts Amid a Jungle of Lines and Catwalks Boat people, known as the Tanka, have long been considered a people apart. For centu ries Chinese law forbade them to settle ashore, marry landowners, or take govern ment examinations. Although this discrim ination no longer exists, Hong Kong's 138,000 water people still congregate in an chorages such as Victoria's typhoon shelter (left). Sweeping in from the sea, typhoons can wreak havoc in the crowded harbor. Chopsticks in hand, youngsters eat aboard a sampan, their only home. Laundry dries above a red-and-gold family altar, a feature of every sampan and junk.