Located in central Vietnam, Hoi An is a famous World Heritage-listed town notable for its relaxed way of life, commitment to traditional customs, preserved architecture and fantastic food.
Visitors to Hoi An almost always already know about its narrow streets flanked by traditional buildings full of colourful lanterns, fusion restaurants, and shoe or tailor shops. But not many people know about the other Hoi An – a fascinating typical Vietnamese countryside of rice paddies, thatched cottages, water coconut and huge fishing nets right where the peaceful Thu Bon River runs into the ocean.
This photo was captured in this alternative Hoi An while we relaxed on a cruise after a lovely hour-long bike ride around local villages.
The boat and bike tour started in the mid-afternoon from the town centre, where we met our friendly local guide named Mr Thinh (Tin Tin) and picked up our bikes and helmets. From there, we pedalled through villages, stopping frequently so that Tin Tin could point out and describe the crops, talk about village life and treat us to some coffee while we watched village men play cards.
By the time we reached the boat, it was twilight, just the moment when fisherman get to work. Every day at sunset at the wide mouth of Thu Bon River, thick with yellow silt, large fishing nets are lowered into the water to catch fish at night. Held in place by bamboo sticks and tight ropes, each fishing net is around 10 square metres and lifted out of the water for protection during the day. At night, though, the fishermen lower the nets into the water for one or two hours and then slowly pull on the ropes using foot-powered winches until the whole net is suspended above the water. Then, using small long-tail boats paddled beneath the nets, the fishermen manipulate long bamboo sticks to guide the fish to the bottom of the net and spill them directly into their boats. This procedure is repeated again and agin until dawn.
During our cruise, we passed many fishing nets, as well as some taxi boats bringing fishermen and farmers home after a long day of work in town. After enjoying the scene, our captain steered the boat to a mooring on a small island where he and Tin Tin treated us to delicious barbecued beef, pork, chicken and vegetables served with fresh baguettes. We watched the sun set as a backdrop to busy fishermen, riverboat commuters and cows grazing on the island.
It was an amazing three-hour tour. So much more than we expected, especially as it was brought to life by such an engaging and knowledgeable local guide. I hope you are able to take it all in too!