Hoi An, May 2017
The life of Vietnam country
The sun shone nicely on our backs. It wasn't too hot yet - it was merely after 8am. We cycled through the streets of Hoi An, heading to the outskirts. Soon our eyes would see seldom farmers working in the fields, vast spaces of crops, muddy rice fields and roads where the rice was drying spread out like a red carpet for us to ride through. Hoang was guiding us towards his house and the small piece of land where he grows rice for his family, and now also teaches others how the white rice is grown.
Hoang welcomed us in such a warm way in Hoi An - before we had only talked via e-mails, but now we felt like we had an instant connection. He was so passionate about showing people the real life of the Vietnamese and their culture. It was obvious he was an expert in growing rice and fishing, which we would see later on, when we learnt how to throw enormous fishing nets.
He introduced us to his friendly buffalo, 'Tractor', and ensured the big fellow gets enough rest and freedom, as he only works when people work - twice a year when they plant and collect rice from the field. A real tractor would be hard to work with in the little space in front of Hoang's house, that's why the work was shared between the people and their water buffalo.
After befriending Tractor, we learnt about watering and ploughing the farm. Not only were we lucky enough to dip our feet in the warm and soft muddy field (which believe us, was a one of a kind experience and felt just like a luxurious spa!), but later on we were also taught how to produce white rice from the crops we had collected, and how to cook a rice meal. The latter was shown by Hoang's lovely wife, who was an expert in flipping the traditional pancakes!
NETS IN THE AIR
Amidst the contagious laugh of the fisherman, who instructed Zach how to throw a beautiful enormous net, the boat shook unsteadily when he let go of the big knot into the air. The thin fabric landed on the water with a light splash, its weights pulling it down to the bottom. That's when the fisherman's wife stepped in. Her hands dipping the wooden paddle in the water to ease the shaking raft. Zach pulled his hands with the strings secured to them, and the net arose from the underwater world, like a puppet in the show. The fisherman's laugh became louder and louder as he picked little fish from the tangled ball that the net had now become.
The next part of the journey brought us closer to the daily life of the fishermen. Their kind natures, even though we didn't understand what they spoke, made us feel so lighthearted. We enjoyed every spin on the basket boat that they did with us, whilst throwing their heads backwards in laughter.
We paddled through the corridors of palm trees semi-submerged in the water, when our captains stopped near a place, where the plants have been chopped off in a way so one could stand on their surface, balancing carefully above the water.
Whilst Zach focused quietly on catching little crabs with a wooden stick and a bit of meat at its end, I was showered with palm leaf gifts! A crown, a ring and even earrings suddenly adorned my head. My fellow sailor, an elderly man with a big smile, worked his fingers swiftly cutting the palm leaves with a little knife, and folding them to create beautiful jewellery.
We felt very privileged to be able to film our little adventure and spend some time with Hoang on getting to know him and some of the members of his family. These are the memories we will always cherish! And we hope you can see, through our short film, that we left a piece of our hearts in Hoi An - who wouldn't?!
See our film about Hoang and his small business, Hoi An Ecotourism, in our short film below, and let us know how you like it.
If you do like it, please share it so more people can hear about this great man,
who aims to show the visitors what real Vietnam is all about!
Visit Hoang's Hoi An Ecotourism Website to read more about the tours he has prepared for his guests.
All of them are lead by him and the local people, who he shares the income with. The farming tours happen right in front of his house, whilst the fishing tours are guided in the waters of Hoi An.
You can also visit Hoang's Facebook fanpage, where he uploads photos from his tours.
We were the guests of Hoi An Ecotourism, but as always all opinions are ours. Anyways - just go and meet Hoang and you'll see what we mean...it's an incredible experience to dive deeper into the daily life of Vietnamese people!