Local Life and Colour.
Anyone who is interested to get an insight into the local life and colour of Vietnam needs to get away from the tourist sights and major hotel enclaves. The small fishing village of Da Bac, located on the shores of the tranquil Cai Lau Lagoon is an ideal place to experience the daily life of the local fishermen. Its proximity to our hotel at Vedana Lagoon made it possible to discover the village on a short bike ride or walk from the hotel’s entrance. On our drive to the resort we had already caught glimpses of the inhabitants and their simple living arrangements.
A Fisherman’s Life
With no particular destination in mind we left Vedana Lagoon on our complimentary bikes, cycling along the narrow track towards the Da Bac Village. A family of fishermen was sitting in their wooden shack, a very primitive hut, with barely any walls or privacy to speak of. It appeared the family sleeps in the one room they share or maybe even in the fishing boat, which lay anchored right next to the dwelling. It is hard to imagine how anyone is able to exist in such bare conditions and it made us feel uncomfortable to live in such splendour only a few hundred meters away.
A Simple Existence
I believe it is important for Jerome to see how people in other countries cope with daily life, especially those with barely any funds to cover even the fundamental essential to exist day in, day out. I do hope that witnessing these snippets will make Jerome appreciate his luck and fortune and be generous and understanding to those with less. On our travels we have observed some very humble living quarters, such as in Mexico and Morocco over the years, but none of them matched the poor state of the huts we saw sometimes during our trip in Vietnam. Despite such a deprived existence the Vietnamese people have welcomed us with smiles and open arms and we did not once experience a local openly begging for money, I even had the impression that a vast majority were quite content with the few possessions they call their own – sometimes perhaps less is more.
Not all locals lived in quite such sparse accommodations, many owned a small concrete or brick house equipped with appliances that you would find in any western household. Even in the some of the poorer parts TV’s were ever present and running, even when no one was watching.
As we went on to the village kids were playing along a stream that flows into the lagoon and a group of boys followed us on their bikes. Turning towards the main road that runs through Da Bac village we had to cross the train tracks, when we heard the distinguishing sound of a train approaching. Jerome got excited, he has always loved watching trains go by, especially in foreign places. He was happy to see that it was a goods train with several engines at the front and a long tail of containers and wagons trailing behind. The train driver even waved at us!
Shortly after we reached the main street, a big dual carriage way with trucks, buses and hundreds of mopeds blasting past. On either side of the street were cafes, restaurants and convenience stores. The boys were after kem (ice-cream) and we searched up and down the village for an ice cream vendor until we eventually ended up in a little gelateria. We ordered three of the most expensive cups, which turned out to be three different scoops of ice-cream with biscuits and fruit on top. At just under 2 USD an absolute bargain and the perfect treat in the heat.
Choosing Our Return Route
For our return to Vedana Lagoon we decided to take a different route, we cycled along the main road for a few blocks and then turned towards the lagoon. This time we crossed the railway under a very low bridge rather than a level crossing.
Meeting the Locals
Before we reached the salty water of the lagoon, we passed a school and some residential buildings. The locals we met during our ride would a first gaze at us with curiosity but then shout a friendly “xin chao”.
The Calm Lagoon
We stopped to gaze at the calm waters of Cai Lau Lagoon, the reflections of the boats, mountains and on the surface were mesmerising. A fisherman sat next to his boat, fixing nets and Jerome enjoyed watching the calf of a water buffalo roam in the wet grass.
Another Bike Ride…
It was enjoyable ride into the fishing village of Da Bac and certainly gave us an insight and taster for the local life in Vietnam. We were looking forward to our longer bike ride planned for the following day with some time on the beach and further explorations into rural life near Hue.
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