Houses on the Waterfront

When I was young only the poor lived on the water, mostly the people who made their living from the sea.

Travelling in Asia one can still see evidence of housing that reminds me of the Pacific coast of Canada back in the 50s.

The ferry on the Chao Praya chugs past makeshift houses lining Bangkok’s klongs (canals).Along Bangkok's klongs on the ferry...Inle Lake in Myanmar was another interesting study of housing on or near the water. Bamboo walkway across the fields seen on our bike trip around Inle Lake in Myanmar.In Myanmar, many people had floating gardens to supplement their regular diet of fish.
Returning from Our Boat Tour on Inle LakeTan Jetty, a World Heritage Site in Penang, Malaysia.A group of house on the wharf in the village on the Penang Jetty (Malaysia)The biggest problem with this sort of housing is that the toilets often open directly onto the sea. A toilet that opens directly into the sea at Tan Jetty in Penang, MalaysiaConnected to the land by boardwalks and being a World Heritage Site, Tan Jetty now has access to funding to improve the plumbing situation. This fisherman’s shack on the beach in Pangkor, Malaysia would never be considered ‘World Heritage’ and will probably be removed in the future.Fisherman's shack on the beach in Pangkor, MalaysiaThis is a photo from 2003 of a floating fisherman’s village in Halong Bay, Vietnam. It was quietly removed and a couple of years later we saw ads for expensive condos overlooking on the waters of this bucolic island of Cat Ba.Cat Ba floating village, Halong BayIn 2013 we visited one of the last fishing villages left in Halong Bay. The bay itself is a World Heritage Site; the fishing villages not so much, and will be removed due to concerns about sewage and pollution.Halong Bay Fishing VillageIn the south of Vietnam thousands of people still live on boats on the Mekong River, and there is a whole lifestyle based on river life.Floating Market Mekong RiverOn the west coast islands of Canada squatters either built houses of found wood or docked houseboats on public lands edging the ocean. A floating village and old houseboat just off of the town of Tofino on the far west coast of Vancouver IslandIn the 70s most were evicted and the land sold to the wealthy who wanted water views.

One of the last hold-outs around Vancouver is Finn Slough in Steveston. Originally inhabited by fishermen of Finnish origin, their wooden houses and walkways were built on a sheltered slough. Their fishing boats were anchored nearby, the slough leading out into the ocean where they made their living.
An old wooden house on Finn Slough in Steveston, CanadaMore on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Words with the Letters O + U.


13 responses to “Houses on the Waterfront

    • There’s not much in Canada that is really comparable either – but back in the 50s I remember a wooden outhouse hanging over the edge of a rock. They will be soon gone everywhere – the world has too many people now to allow it to continue. On the other hand, plastic wasn’t a big problem back then!

    • These places are so similar to BC’s west coast when I was a child – I feel such nostalgia but realize that it was less idyllic for my parents, especially for my mom with two babies and no running water. There was an outbreak of yellow jaundice from dirty water – we didn’t get it as my mom boiled all the water but many of our neighbours ended up in the hospital.

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