With October already upon us, we’re getting ready to finally say hello to the start of winter (see ya, humidity!), but also waving goodbye to our beloved Junk Boat season (booo). When I first moved to Hong Kong and heard everybody raving about these boat parties, I was like huh? Am I in LA or Asia? Where and how in this concrete jungle is everybody attending these? And I really mean everyone is attending them – one of the guys on our boat has been on a junk boat trip every summer for the past 22 years – now that’s dedication to the cause.
And when we say “junk boat”, we don’t mean Hong Kong’s iconic junk the Aqua Luna, the red-sailed staple ship of the Victoria Harbour Skyline (although, the Aqua Luna is pretty awesome in itself. Grab yourself a ticket to board for around $300, depending on the time of day, from Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront). Most of the time, what we refer to as a junk boat is not an actual junk boat (don’t blame me), and is usually *technically* a cruiser yacht, as seen below.
The boats will have an indoor and an outdoor area, and depending on the location of your party, you’ll usually be able to jump off the boat for a swim. Where this boat takes you is completely up to you and your party. Some people choose to board theirs at the Central Ferry Pier, and hang around Victoria Harbour to soak in the city skyline views, whereas others will board at Sai Kung Ferry Piers and be taken to the beautiful borders of mountainous Hong Kong, full of secret islands and empty, exotic beaches. The average party size is around 30 people, for an averaging price of $500, but packages can drastically vary, and if you’re thinking of planning your own, be sure to ask around. The more expensive ones will usually be all-inclusive of food and drink, and the preference lies with you.
This year, we boarded from Sai Kung at around 10am, where we were taken to the beautiful Pak Lap Wan (白腊灣), about an hour and a half away. We docked a couple of hundred meters away from the beach, so we could easily swim to the beach. We paid $500pp for our package included a yummy home-cooked lunch by the boat aunty of delicious seafood & fried noodles, and our lovely hosts provided us with all the drinks. To keep us entertained through the long day (10am – 6pm), they provided us with some fun inflatables, including a blow-up trampoline which floats on the ocean (COOL RIGHT, I KNOW – even if the boys did purely use it for wrestling matches) and we were lucky enough to have free wake-boarding trips included on the boat owner’s speed boat.
- Eat a big breakfast. Some junks can start their journeys as early as 9am; everyone’s over-excited and you will most likely get pressured into drinking at that time, too, even if it sounds like a horrible idea (which it really, really is – puke!).
- Spend at least 50% of your time in the water or on the beach. The constant motion of the boat can make the most thick-skinned of people feel woozy, so it’s a good idea to spend some time away from it.
What to bring aboard:
- Sunscreen, even if it’s an overcast day. It was raining on the morning we left, but by 1pm the clouds had completely disappeared and here I am left with peeling sunburn 2 weeks later (ouch).
- Your own water bottle. Even if drinks are included in your package, I guarantee you will either a) lose your cup, b) have the taste of alcohol stuck to the bottom of your cup, or c) run out of cups altogether. Hong Kong temperatures can reach up to 38°C in the height of summer, with humidity levels often over 90%, so it’s important to stay hydrated.
- A towel.
- A complete change of clothes. And I mean complete, not just some new underwear, because some bastard will find it hilarious to throw you in fully clothed, or if you’re lucky, simply attack you with the water guns or pour a bottle over your head. End of story.
- Whatever you like to do! What made our boat trip so much fun was that everyone bought a little something to contribute. So in the morning, we ate home-made cupcakes together, and by the afternoon, we were watching one girl create a beautiful calligraphy image with her ink pens, whilst others were playing games like Blackjack & Mahjong. It can be a long day, so the more activities you have to break it up, the better.
So that brings me to the end of the junk boat 101! Although the season is over for this year, I’m now looking forward to the Winter festivities of Halloween & Christmas (yay!), which are ten times more fun when you get to celebrate them with adorable students like mine! I’ll be sure to bombard you guys with irresistibly cute pictures of them in their costumes – bye for now! 🙂