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A Taste of Aberdeen


Aberdeen was originally called Hong Kong, which literally means ‘fragrant harbour’ because of its historical role as a port for sandalwood. However, when foreigners arrived in the early 19th century, they mistook the name of the fishing village for the entire island. Since the name was already widely used, Aberdeen was renamed ‘Hong Kong Tsai’, which means ‘Little Hong Kong’.

Despite Hong Kong’s rapid development, Aberdeen has retained elements of its heritage, which has made it a place of interest for locals and tourists alike.

Though currently not part of the MTR South Island Line, construction of an Aberdeen Station is already in the works which will bring more traffic to the neighbourhood and take the tourism of Aberdeen to new heights.

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Aberdeen Promenade 
Completed in 1992, the Aberdeen Promenade stretches 800 metres long, reaching the Hong Kong Wholesale Fish Market in the west, and the Aberdeen Tennis & Squash Centre in the east. Facilities in the waterfront park include a basketball court, fitness areas, chess pavilion, children’s playgrounds, walking tiles, and a performance stage. If visitors climb up to the top of the junk sail viewing deck, they can enjoy a panoramic view of the typhoon shelter and Ap Lei Chau. The park also contains a visitor centre with a video presentation of the history of Aberdeen’s fishing industry, development, and tourism. Throughout the promenade, there are plaques detailing the development and transformation of the neighbourhood, and statues and displays that contain a fishing theme, which all serve as a reminder of Aberdeen’s historical and current status as a fishing port.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters and sampans
Located in the waters between the southern part of the Island and Ap Lei Chau, Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters is divided in two sections – the West and South, which are separated by Ap Lei Chau Bridge and Aberdeen Channel Bridge.

Aberdeen

The West Shelter does not only offer a safe haven for fishing boats but is also home to the Aberdeen floating village. Even though many fishermen chose to live on land since the development of Aberdeen began in the 1970s, there are still an estimated 6,000 ‘boat people’ (mainly Tanka and Hoklo) residing on approximately 600 junks in the harbour. As for the South Shelter, due to its proximity to Aberdeen Marina Club and Aberdeen Boat Club, it mainly acts as a berth for yachts, and is home to the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant. The Typhoon Shelters are also the site of the annual Aberdeen Dragon Boat Race, which takes place during Tuen Ng Festival.

From the Aberdeen Pier, locals and visitors can travel to surrounding and outlying islands by sampan. There are a total five routes that embark from Aberdeen, and destinations include Mo Tat, Sok Kwu Wan, Yung Shue Wan, Pak Kok Tsuen, Stanley, Po Toi Island and Ap Lei Chau. Though there are other forms of transport to Ap Lei Chau, taking the sampan will take a mere four minutes to reach Main Street, Ap Lei Chau, and the fare is only $2.2, making it even speedier and cheaper than travelling by bus.

Aberdeen

For those who want to have a tour of the Aberdeen Harbour and the islands, you can sign up for a sampan tour at the pier and negotiate the fare based on tour duration and distance.

Food on water
Jumbo Floating Restaurant is both a scenic landmark and a renowned tourist attraction of Aberdeen. Operated under the brand Jumbo Kingdom, Jumbo Floating Restaurant, along with Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. With Jumbo established in 1976 and Tai Pak in 1957, the restaurants are, of course, best known for fresh seafood specialties with the menu offering over 100 seafood dishes, as well as traditional Cantonese cuisine and dim sum. Overlooking the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is ornamented in the style of an ancient Chinese imperial palace and has been modernised over the years to become a theme park on the sea with fine dining, shopping, sightseeing and cultural attractions.

To reach Jumbo and Tai Pak Floating Restaurants, visitors can either take a free shuttle boat at the Aberdeen or Shum Wan Pier.
 Aberdeen

Alternatively give the more down-to-earth sampan restaurants a try. Mainly serving fishermen in the typhoon shelter, these sampan restaurants also dock at different piers to serve outside visitors. With the sampan owner responsible for all chores such as cooking and washing, the menu is kept simple with the prices being very reasonable (under $30 per dish). The menu offers soup noodles, rice soup, rice and a selection of up to three sides such as fish balls, fish cake, barbecue pork, barbecue goose and beef brisket. According to online sources, there are only five sampan restaurants left in Hong Kong and their hours are irregular, so if you want to try a sampan restaurant, it is recommended that you visit locations such as the Hong Kong Wholesale Fish Market, and Aberdeen Boat Club during the hours of 10am to 5pm. Depending on stock availability, the sampan restaurants might sometimes operate at night until 8pm near the pier of Jumbo floating restaurants.

Tin Hau Temple and Hoi Wong Temple
There are two notable temples in Aberdeen: Tin Hau Temple and Hoi Wong Temple.

Dedicated to multiple deities, Tin Hau Temple is a Grade III historic building located at the intersection of Aberdeen Main Road and Aberdeen Reservoir Road. The temple was originally built by sea during the British colonial period in 1851 but due to the development and reclamation of Aberdeen in the 1970s, Tin Hau Temple was gradually ‘moved’ further inland. The long list of deities worshipped at the temple includes Tin Hau, Wong Tai Sin, Guanyin, Caibo Xingjun (God of Wealth), Hua Tuo, Tai Sui, Wenchang Wang (God of Culture and Literature), Lady Golden Flower, Monkey King, Guan Yu, and Tudigong (Lord of the Soil and the Ground).
 Tin Hau Temple Tin Hau Temple

As for Hoi Wong Temple, it is renowned for its small stature which is only one metre by one metre in width and height, and for being the only temple in Hong Kong that worships the Great God of the Sea. Just like Tin Hau Temple, Hoi Wong Temple was initially constructed at a pier, but has been turned into a roadside temple because of reclamation. The temple had once been relocated to the seaside but a fire broke out at the restaurant across the street afterwards and residents felt that it was a bad omen, so Hoi Wong Temple was moved back to its original location and now sits at the peculiar location in front of a bank at the intersection of Chengtu Road and Nam Ning Street. A sea god by nature and mostly worshipped by fishermen, the Great God of the Sea is also a deity for safe travel, and on the day of Hoi Wong Temple Festival, December 12 of the lunar calendar, worshippers will host an elaborate celebration ceremony and present offerings such as a roasted suckling pig, fruits and traditional snacks.

Aside from Tin Hau Temple and Hoi Wong Temple, there is a cluster of mini shrines on a slope off Old Main Street, where Aberdeen and the shrines are dedicated to a 100 year old Banyan tree and deities such as Tudigong, Guan Yu and Beidi.

AC
Located at the base of the private housing estate Aberdeen Centre, AC is the largest and most frequent shopping hotspot for residents in the Southern District. Comprised of five structures with approximately 200 shops spread across two floors, AC might not be as glamourous and luxurious as its upmarket counterparts but it has become a major hub for getting daily amenities, meaning residents in the area can basically get everything they need without going far.

Easily accessible by all types of transport, locals and visitors are treated to a diverse variety of independent and chain stores in fashion, electronics, groceries, home goods, personal care and eateries. In terms of restaurants, AC doesn’t only have the usual American and Japanese fast food restaurants but also Chinese noodles, dumplings, hotpot and barbecue meats, Japanese ramen and sushi, plus bakeries, dessert shops and cafes. The shopping mall also houses several bank branches, a musical instrument shop, a children’s arcade, a fitness centre, and a bookstore. On a side note, for those who wish to drive, you can receive a parking discount if you spend $100 or more at AC.

Aberdeen Centre

Finding food in Aberdeen
Having historic roots as a fishing village has made Aberdeen the place to be if you have an appetite for quality fish products. From the famous fish balls, delicious fish cake to the crispy fried fish skin, these yummy treats are one of the things that has attracted both locals and visitors and made ‘Aberdeen fish balls’ a household name.

Aberdeen Fish Balls

If you are not a big fan of fish products or eating at restaurants in the mall, there are plenty of choices in the neighbourhood surrounding the mall and you can travel as far as Old Main Street Aberdeen to find food. The neighbourhood offers locals and visitors not just the usual fast food and cha chaan tengs but different cuisines like Vietnamese, Shanghainese dumplings, dim sum, Thai, Japanese barbecue, vegetarian and more.  

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