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Vietnam 2011, Halong Bay. The old Sampan. Sampán Chino. | by fdecastrob
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Vietnam 2011, Halong Bay. The old Sampan. Sampán Chino.

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A sampan is a relatively flat bottomed Chinese wooden boat from 3.5 to 4.5 m (11.5 to 14.8 ft) long. Some sampans include a small shelter on board, and may be used as a permanent habitation on inland waters. Sampans are generally used for transportation in coastal areas or rivers, and are often used as traditional fishing boats. It is unusual for a sampan to sail far from land as they do not have the means to survive rough weather.

The word "sampan" comes from the original Cantonese term for the boats, 三板 (sam pan), literally meaning "three planks",although this term is no longer used in modern Chinese. The name referred to the hull 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.


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

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Taken on August 5, 2011