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Exploring the floating villages of Lan Ha Bay

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 . Last updated Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:50

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Lan Ha Bay attracts tourists even if they have never once set their foot on the bay by lightly refined name “Lan Ha”. In addition, coming here tourists will have the chance to explore the exciting life on floating villages of the bay.

Cat Ba Island is the largest of 336 islands spreading of 260 square kilometers that comprise the Cat Ba archipelago. This island is made up the southeast area of Halong Bay in northern Vietnam. My destination now is Lan Ha Bay, located on the west of Cat Ba Island. The Bay is covered by nearly 400 limestone mountains and has become a safe shelter for fishing boats when storms happen. There are appropriately 300 households living in floating villages of Lan Ha Bay.

We are traveling on Lan Ha Bay with Mr. Hang family to dive for rubbish and learn more about his valuable efforts to keep Halong Bay safe and beautiful. Mr. Hang is a diver in Lan Ha Bay with over 30 years of experience. In his life, the sea plays an essential role. He came to Cai Beo floating village in 2008 and settled down. Undergoing many difficulties from living on the sea, he and his family still keep going. For Mr. Hang, anything away from the sea is not his option.

Years ago, Lan Ha Bay had about 5000 households farming snout outer clams in floating ponds. Fishermen used to plastic basket to farm snout otter calms. Then, a disease wiped out the entire population of snout otter clams, so most fishermen went bankrupted. The farmers discarded all the baskets used to raise the snout outer clams and these sank to the bottom of Lan Ha Bay. Red algae started to grow on the baskets, polluting the water. Fish cannot live in a polluted population. Many fishermen drag their nets across the sea bottom when fishing. Some nets get torn by the baskets and the fishermen have to repair the nets. So they collect the baskets there to keep the environment clean.

It is a beautiful area. I have been to Cat Ba Island several times. But this time I really got to see things I have never seen before.  The life of people living there is very different from experience that foreign tourists get when coming to Cat Ba in their trip. They often go on big, luxurious and comfortable boats. They sleep in air conditioning beds in big boats. It is very interesting experience to go there and mix with the simple life of people in floating villages. Although their life is hard and simple, they are always very happy like other people. Their work is very hard. They have to get up very early and do lots of physical work. Their day really starts very early and finishes very late. But they seem happy.

Fishermen live away from the mainland, but they can buy anything from hawkers here. They do not have a variety of food like on the mainland, but they can catch fish. They just need to buy vegetables, salt and fish sauce. According to Mr. Hang, the previous fishing village was much more crowded generations. Under the resettlement plan, since April, 2014, many elder and children have come to live on mainland. When summer time comes, the children can come back to the fishing village.  

In addition, Mr. Hang let me go fishing along with him. Mr. Hang told me that fishes are like people. When it has been bright for a long time, and all of a sudden, the lights are turned off, the fish will be blinded and start sprinting towards us. That’s when we pull the net up. Local fishermen use really simple fishing tools. Fishing takes a lot of manual strength. They do not use any machines except for the generator. Still, they catch a lot of fish. It is really exciting experience I have never had before.


Source: VTV4 –

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