When: The original owner kindly wrote "Hong Kong 11/3/24" on the back of this postcard. So March or November, depending on their nationality, but definitely 1924.
Where: It is labelled "Aberdeen Harbour", but this part of the harbour was known as Staunton's Creek [2019 Update: Most maps mark it "Staunton Creek", so that's the name I use now.] Jason Wordie provides some background :
"[...] the flat area of terraced fields above the fishing village of Aberdeen was shown on early maps as Staunton's Valley below which flowed Staunton's Creek, a stream whose mouth in Aberdeen Harbour is found near the present Ap Lei Chau bridge. Staunton's Creek was a frequent resort of small craft owing to its relatively sheltered position, but the lower reaches have since been reclaimed."
Here's a map of the area from 1845. The creek is shown in the top-right corner, and leads away to the right:
The photo shows a pleasant, wooded hill on the far side of the creek. A few years later the trees were cleared, and construction of the Holy Spirit Seminary  began. It opened in 1931, and its Chinese-style tiled roof is still a landmark in the area today:
Who: The buyer was likely on a tour of the Far East, jotting down when and where they saw this so they could tell the folks back home.
As the photo shows, they'd have seen the residents of these sampans going about their daily lives. (It must have been a good drying day when the photographer visited. Over on the right there is someone is hanging out the washing.)
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But who were they? Families of the men who sailed out on the larger fishing junks? Or service workers that supported the fishing fleet? Or ...?
What: The sampans are the main feature of the photo. Most follow a standard design, with a curved roof, flat wooden back, and a single oar sticking out the back.
There are some other styles though - the boat second from the left has a pair of sliding shutters on the back. It's also the proud owner of a ship's cat!
I wonder how often they'd move around, and how far? The oar suggests they'd move around the harbour at least. And I can count eight with masts up, that would be able to sail further afield. In fact looking closely there are several boats that show long poles laid horizontally. Could these be raised as masts too, or they're just convenient poles for hanging things on?
The last unusual items are a couple of grassy looking structures on the shore in the distance:
Thatched shelters for storage or accommodation? Racks for drying grass?
If you have any answers to these questions, or any other comments about what we're looking at, please let us know in the comments below.