by Hoai Nam
Weekends are the best time for Nguyen Minh Tuan, from Da Nang City, and fellow enthusiasts to go fishing along the Cham Islands, situated close to the ancient town of Hoi An, a favoured tourist destination.
Net interest: Novices learn how to throw nets to catch fish like locals. — Photos courtesy Luxury Travel
|Mudlarks: Foreign tourists prefer farming in Tra Que Village in Hoi An.
With fishing rods, bait and gas stoves, the group usually travels to the coast by bus, from where they charter a boat.
The islands, a UNESCO world biosphere 10 nautical miles from Cua Dai Beach, include 3,000 inhabitants, most of whom make their living from fishing.
"I'm always busy with business during the week. Coming here with my friends and family over the weekend is a great stress reliever," Tuan said.
"With its waters well-protected, the area is a haven for fish."
Tuan normally has his sights set on big groupers weighing around 2kg each, setting his line as far as 50km from the boat.
Usually, it takes him only 15 minutes to reel in his first victim.
While the men fish, their children and wives opt for diving, kayaking or swimming.
Tuan's daughter, Son Tra, said she loves to explore the islands' coral reefs.
"I snorkel near to shore, but scuba dive to discover the magical deep sea. I always release any fish I manage to catch," the 13-year-old girl said.
She said some women also indulge in shopping or practising their farming skills in Tra Que Village.
Nguyen Thanh Giang, who spent his first time farming in the village, said despite the hard work, it is a great experience.
"It's difficult to use a plough and make buffalo go straight. Planting vegetables is easy, but soil preparation and watering is pretty tough. I take my hat off to the local farmers," he said.
The 36-year-old said he was so hungry after working on the farm that he found lunch on the beach otherworldly.
Nguyen Hung, a tour manager from Ha Noi, said, "Our full-day tours to Hoi An and the islands, give visitors a chance to work on a farm, practise net fishing, paddle bamboo coracles and cruise around the islands by bicycle."
|Landing the big one: A tourist catches a fish on Hoi An's Cham Islands. The fishing tour has lured domestic and foreign visitors to the historic town.
Tuan and his friends rounded off their fishing trip with a 50kg catch, some of which was subsequently grilled during a BBQ on board in celebration of a day well spent.
Returning to shore, the group spent the night on Cua Dai Beach before heading back home the next morning.
Ha Pham, a tour operator from Luxury Travel, said his company had organised fishing and farming trips for around 1,000 tourists this year alone.
"We want to send a message that the Cham Islands and Hoi An are not only famous for their beaches and ancient history, but also for spectacular marine life."
"It's the reason that we decided to debut our branch office in Da Nang last month in order to provide the best service to foreign tourists travelling to Hoi An, Cham Islands, My Son Sanctuary and Hue City via Da Nang Airport," he said.
Hung's agency also offers reasonable packages priced at US$93 per person for a group of four.
Information can be found at www.luxurytravelvietnam.com.— VNS