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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Community Comment

Picture of the Day July 19, 2008

Good morning, Netizens...

Since on weekends we have no Word of the Day, we often find ourselves at the mercies of the Picture of the Day, which sometimes leaves us in intellectually-boring places. Perhaps not this morning.

In this morning's picture, members of the press visit the posh air-conditioned stables of the Shatin Olympic Equestrian Venue in Hong Kong. (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images) (July 18, 2008)

The last time I was in Hong Kong to negotiate the purchase of computer parts, I chanced upon a colony of boat people who live their entire lives on tiny junks that are tied up and bob on the waters of various parts of Hong Kong Harbor. For the most part, entire generations of families have lived on the decks of these tiny boats in small shacks attached to the deck of their boats, since everything below decks is reserved for fishing, their primary source of income.

One of the obstacles that stood in my path of communicating with anyone was that some of the “boat people” speak a language all their own, which cannot be easily translated into English, or just about any other language, for that matter. In one boat I encountered, eleven family members had been living in four shacks built onto the deck of a 45 foot long boat for two generations, spoke a dialect of Cantonese that my translator couldn't understand, but I was told were eager to learn of my life in the United States. They are, according to authorities of the time, among the poorest of the poor in Hong Kong, but highly self-sufficient.

So in retrospect, based upon my memories of that time more than a decade ago, I wonder how eager they would be to live in the palacial environment of the Shatin stables. Four horse stalls, at least according to the picture above, and they would be set for life.


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.