Viet Nam News
by Chí Quốc
Located about 6km from central of Cần Thơ City, Sơn Islet has become a favourite destination for tourists keen to discover the waterways of the Mekong Delta.
The local people’s hospitability, close-to-nature lifestyle, peaceful landscapes and traditional cakes have enticed many visitors to come back to the islet.
The only transportation to the islet, which is a small area near the Hậu River (a main distributary of the Mekong), is a boat that takes about ten minutes or a ferry that takes five minutes.
Making traditional cakes, like “seal” cake, “sizzling” cake or “wet” cake, has been residents trade for generations on the islet, but only on special occasions like family or village parties.
However, visitors can call an hour in advance and can then try a variety of delicious local cakes during their trip.
Each household in the village only makes one type of cake for visitors, as they don’t want to compete against each other.
If a visitor wants to try more than one cake, the neighbours will be very willing to offer their cakes.
Fun for a day: One day living the life of a farmer on Sơn Islet will create unforgettable memories for visitors. — VNS Photo Chí Quốc
On the day we arrived at the islet, we were served with traditional “seal” and “sizzling” cakes by Phan Thị Kim Phuớc’s family, and then Phan Thị Kim Ngân who lives next door also dropped by and offered us her “lọt” cakes.
Phước said tourism has become the main source of income for villagers of the islet since community-based tourism began in the area.
“On a peak day, I received a phone call at 9pm to book a tour for 40 tourists, requesting sizzling cakes to be ready by early morning the following day. I had to get help from my neighbours who helped me to pick and wash the vegetables for the cakes,” she recalled.
Besides traditional cakes, villagers also treat the guests with special dishes like porridge made with chickens reared in their garden, field crab hotpot or fish fried with garlic and chili.
Visitors to Ngân’s household can also try homemade anchovy sauce, served only for guests and not for sale.
Cooking up a storm: Visitors try making local cakes at a household on Sơn Islet. — VNS Photo Chí Quốc
Experience rural life
Tasting local delicious cakes is just one exciting part of a trip to Sơn Islet.
Before landing on the islet, tourists who travel by ferry-boat can visit the floating fish cages on the Hậu River. For just 10,000VNĐ (50 US cents), each person can experience the floating life and feed the fish. After that, they can sample food from local households and join farming activities, including catching fish and picking pomelos.
Visitors can also work in teams for a fish-catching contest. The fish they catch will then be cooked by the household.
Visitors can also go boat racing in one of Sơn Islet’s many shallow canals.
When the sun starts to set, tourists can sit in the orchard on the edge of the islet and watch storks coming back home.
According to Lê Thị Bé Bảy, the deputy manager of local department of culture and information, 12 of the total 79 households on the islet practise community-based tourism.
For safety and best service, tourists who wish to visit Sơn Islet should book tours by contacting the local youth union or local department of culture and information, she said. Tour guides are also members of the union and most of their relatives take part in tourism services on the islet.
“People here have lived in harmony and relied on each other for generations, so when they start their business, they maintain their old lifestyle and avoid competing. This creates the uniqueness of Sơn Islet’s tourism and differentiates it from the tourism of other southern provinces,” she added. — VNS