Talk over Breakfast
Sitting in what looked like someone’s garden we had tea and a bowl of hot pho. During breakfast we talked about ourselves and our travel experiences and journeys through Vietnam so far. A couple had already visited Hoi An a few times before and seen the extensive change the town has undergone over the past years, the rest of our group were first time visitors.
Read here about the first part of the photo tour through Due Hai Fishing Village.
Visiting a Fish Sauce Factory
After breakfast we visited a small factory that produces fish sauce locally. I had braced myself for an intense stink of the festering fishes, it takes a year for the dead fish to ferment in large tanks, before the fish sauce is filled into bottles and sold and was surprised that the smell was no worse than in the port from the decaying fish in the water.
Watching the Workers
Two women workers were busy at the factory and besides taking a quick peek into the tanks filled with the mush of the fermenting fish there was not much to see of the production of this essential local cooking ingredient. However, I liked the atmospheric light that filtered through the holes in the wooden barn that painted dots onto the bare concrete floor and coloured buckets.
Visiting a Local Family
Before we strolled back to the port we visited one of the local families known to our guide. Grandma and grandpa were slurping their pho, a TV flickered in a room and two boys sat in front watching a comic series. One of the boys cheekily grinned at us and even tried to smooth his hair for the perfect pose. Etienne chatted with the grandma while we took photos of the family members.
Posing for Our Photos
It all felt rather staged and I kept wondering if he paid them some money in return. An adult man living at the house even quickly changed from his pyjamas into a more presentable outfit and stood pose in the doorframe to his room. It was very obvious he was completely in his element and enjoyed being our model.
Taking Photos at the Dry Dockyard
Etienne told us that the light was starting to get too bright for us to take photos. However, our last stop was at the dry dock, where a group of men repaired some of the fishing boats. The air was heavy with paint fumes and the thin smoke from welding metal on the hull. Some of the workers took a quick break to gaze at our group before returning to their jobs. I felt that almost everyone was by then tired and disinterested in taking photos. Watching the workers without my lens in front of my eyes was still a satisfying and certainly an unusual experience.
Was it Worth the Money for the Photo Tour?
The port had emptied by the time we arrived back at the minibus and the remaining locals sat chatting on the little plastic stools with a cup of tea or coffee in hand. All in all it was an enjoyable morning at the Duy Hai fishing village. Afterwards I asked myself was it worth the 45USD for the photo tour? I would love to say yes it was but I somehow felt that Etienne has somewhat lost his passion in running the course and only sees it as an easy source of income now. The fee might not seem as a lot of money for many westerners, but put into Vietnamese context it is a large some of cash when totaled across the group. Although he is clearly an expert, I did not learn as many new photographic tricks or tips as I had expected when I booked, and also I was left with something of a bad feeling that the locals at the fishing village were somewhat exploited by our visit and seen as objects rather than the hard working people they are.
Visiting Due Hai Fishing Village on Your Own
Of course, if you are interested in visiting the Duy Hai fishing village for sunrise, you can just as easily get a taxi to take you from Hoi An and watch the fishing boats come in with their catch like a few other tourists did during our visit. Personally I still feel uncomfortable of taking random strangers portraits, and from now on will revert to my previous methods of always asking when taking face shots of individuals, however, I hope you enjoy the results of the photo tour and am grateful for your feedback.