There Are A Hundred Ways To Catch A Fish In The River In Hoi An, Viet Nam

There Are A Hundred Ways To Catch A Fish In The River In Hoi An, Viet Nam

“Having ideas is like getting fishing net; you must cast it. The broader you cast it, the greater your likelihood of achieving more!” Israelmore Ayivor

For the fishermen in Viet Nam, fishing has been a way of life for generations.

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Now they send their children to school in the hopes that they will have a better life. Fishing is not an easy life. Fishermen set their nets at night and return home to sell their fish to wholesalers at the market in the morning.

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They don’t worry about illness, or government fishing regulations.They worry about catching enough fish to feed their families all year round.

All fishermen are very superstitious and in Viet Nam it is the same. The boats have eyes in front of them – to see for their safety and to scare away the evil spirits. There are different eyes in different parts of the country. In the South the eyes are rounder than in the North.(boat in the Mekong Delta)

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The boats in the dock with eyes watch for the safety of the smaller fishing boats.

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The fishermen go to fortune tellers to find out what days are good for them to go out and catch many fish. Lucky numbers are 1, 5, 7 and 9. You can spend a lot of money to have the number nine painted on your boat.

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The fishermen use all kinds of tools to catch fish. Fishing nets, fishing camps (traps) and instruments made from bamboo to raise and lower large nets are some of the ways to catch fish.  I tried a few of the different methods.

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They are hard work. It is probably even harder when you’ve lost your foot on a landmine as a child.

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We sailed to a bamboo construction that was operated with your  arms and legs like gym equipment.

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It raises a very large fishing net that had been set during the night. it was heavy.  I needed help but the fishermen do it alone. (that was so cool to make  that come up)

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Then you go out to the net and retrieve the fish.

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The hat is not decorative. It is so the fish don’t fall on your head.

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The round bamboo basket boats with tar or varnish to waterproof them will catch your eye as soon as you reach the Viet Nam coast. It is truly a remarkable boat -cheap and resistant to various water hazards.

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We took it to go through the underwater palm forest filled with water coconuts that boats can’t go through. It’s a good area to find crabs.

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The Viet Cong hid here during the war. Hoi An is in central Viet Nam between the North and the South.

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The river is life to a fishermen – always there, always changing. As the rivers become more polluted, there are less fish and their income is always unstable.

Spending the morning with the fishermen in Hoi An for me was a very special thing to do. Being on the river is incredibly beautiful and it made me appreciate how much the fishermen of the world do for us – especially when I was eating the fresh catch of the day. (squid and prawns)

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Thanks to the fishermen and everyone from Hoi An Agritravel for a very interesting and delicious morning. Special thanks to Mr Nguyen Phuc Tan for his wonderful stories and expertise in teaching me about the Vietnamese fishermen.

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Di du lịch một cách an toàn,

JAZ

Where Are The Kings Of Hue? (Viet Nam)

Where are the Kings of Hue? (Viet Nam)

“And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie, that kings for such a tomb would wish to die”  John Milton

Between 1802 and 1945 Hue was the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty which had thirteen kings.  Huế was the national capital until 1945 when the last king abdicated and the new capital was Saigon in the south.

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The Imperial City at Hue is the best-preserved remnant of a vast citadel and royal quarters that once existed on the site.

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In the early nineteenth century the first King Gia Long wished to build a replica of the Forbidden City of Beijing.

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The King decided to locate his own palace within the walls of the citadel of his “Forbidden City”along the east side nearest the Perfume River.

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The “Purple Forbidden City,” was where the Emperor built a network of palaces, gates, and courtyards that served as his home and the administrative core of the Empire. The occupants were many concubines, wives, eunuchs and children.

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The ruins of the Imperial City are both old and more recent.

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In 1968 the Viet Cong launched an attack on the city of Hue. It was the Tet Offensive and the largest and bloodiest military action of the war up until that point. The fighting went on for a month and the Viet Cong massacred many people. This resulted in the destruction of the city by U.S. forces. The Viet Cong hid in the Imperial City fighting the US until they died from lack of supplies.

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Though the city was in ruins, long before the US bombed it, there was a lot of war damage to the historic buildings and many were reduced to rubble.

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Even so, the remaining buildings are enough to give the visitor a sense of how the Vietnamese interpreted Chinese imperial architecture and adapted it to their culture.

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The Nguyen Dynasty lives on in Hue if only through the Tombs of the Kings. The best and the worst of the line are commemorated through their imposing tombs, scattered through the hills of Hue.

Only seven of the thirteen kings have tombs in Hue. Each tomb began construction during each kings lifetime, and was completed after his death with a stone inscribed with the dead king’s biography. A few of the actual bodies have never been found and their tombs remain intact. All the tombs are equipped with statues and monuments in perfect “Phong Thuy” (Feng Shui) harmony to create a natural setting, in the architecture of which the king’s philosophical tendencies are often reflected.

The respective tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh reflect the absolute extremes of tomb design. Tu Duc’s tomb is expansive and poetically beautiful in its layout.

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Khai Dinh’s is done in a more monumental style – crafted of concrete, the grayness outside broken on the inside with pieces of broken glass and porcelain.

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Khai Dinh is said to have intended for his tomb to be built at the top of a long series of stairs, so courtiers would have to exert extra effort to pay respect to his memory.

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His tomb took 11 years to complete.

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His enduring unpopularity is due in part to his heavy taxation on peasants to finance the construction of this edifice.

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Once the capital of Vietnam and an inspiration for poets and artists alike for centuries, Hué is divided by the waters of the Perfume River, which separate the city’s 19th century citadel from the suburbs that radiate from the eastern shore. The second half of Stanley Kubrick’s film Full Metal Jacket takes place primarily in and around the bombed-out ruins of the city of Huế.

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It is a very Buddhist city with many monasteries and vegetarian restaurants. The food in Hue which is in central Viet Nam is spicier than the north and south.

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Thich Nhat Hanh, world-famous Zen master originates from Huế.

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Hue was declared “ a master of urban poetry” and a Unesco site in 1981 due to its history and cultural heritage.

My guide in Hue and Hoi An was Mr. Ngo Duc Huan. Huan had a huge amount of information about the Kings of Hue. I hope I retained some of it. Huan was fun, knowledgeable and kind.  My time in Central Viet Nam was definitely better because of him and I learned a lot. Thank you so much for the wonderful time I had in those cities.

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Di du lịch một cách an toàn

JAZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

The Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

“Now without the bombs and gun shots, people can have a better sleep.“ from someone in the Mekong Delta.

The Mekong River has its origins in the mountains of Tibet, and it traverses six countries and 4500 km before spilling out into the Mekong Delta region of Viet Nam.

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After the rainy season, the water is brown from the silt that has been washed into it upstream.

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During the dry season the river becomes blue-green in color. There are many boats of different sizes and shapes traveling in all directions, including cargo boats, fishing boats, ferries, tourist boats and house boats.

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Everything happens on the river including the floating market of Cai Bei.

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All along the river, small huts are perched precariously on stilts so that the water at high tide does no more than wet the floor.

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Some are in good shape, but most are ramshackle, and one wonders how they manage to survive.

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During the Viet Nam War there was there was fighting there between the Viet Cong and the US Navy boats. After the war the Khmer Rouge attacked Viet Nam to reclaim the Delta area. This campaign precipitated the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and later downfall of the Khmer Rouge.

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The Mekong Delta is called the Rice Bowl of Viet Nam because most of the countries rice production comes from the Delta. They also have most of the country’s fisheries.

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The towns along the river are fun to explore by foot or bicycle.

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You will find French colonial architecture and delicious fruits and vegetables.

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The Mekong Lodge is an interesting place to stay on the Delta.

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It is reachable by boat and a good location for exploring the nearby villages and floating market. They are socially and environmentally responsible using eco-friendly materials for the bungalows, solar energy, rainwater, local ingredients and local employees. There is not a lot of English but it adds to the charm. Hand motions are the universal language and I am fluent in them.

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I had a great foot massage in a bamboo chair outside of my room overlooking beautiful gardens and fruit orchards of longan, rambutan, mango, durian trees and flowers. http://mekonglodge.com

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Another option are local guesthouses where you can stay with a lovely family on the Mekong.

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I spent some time at Muoi Huong Tourist Garden (070 3859992) with their lovely family and highly recommend it for a wonderful local experience. (Binh Hoa Phuoc Island, Long Ho District, Vinh Long, Viet Nam).

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I had a chance to talk to people in the Mekong Delta. What I noticed throughout Vietnam was some of the nicest friendliest people I met came from the Mekong Delta.

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There is an interconnectedness that all Vietnamese have with past generations that we do not have. Every home has an altar to their ancestors with photos and their favorite things on it. The smell of incense used for prayer permeates the country (not so good for me because I am allergic to it). But I love the idea of it – how the smoke rises up to connect them with their ancestors.

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They worship at communal houses.

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They work hard. They are underpaid and they do not complain.

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They have been helped by the efforts, work and suffering of previous generations and ancestors.

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Now they are part of the present, with each other, working toward a future when others will pray and thank them.

Special thanks to my tour guide in Saigon and the Mekong Delta Mr. Nguyen Dinh Thanh. Thanh is smart, funny, intuitive, helpful and very knowledgeable about everything related to Viet Nam. I had the best time exploring the Delta with him and highly recommend him as a tour guide.

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Di du lịch một cách an toàn,

JAZ

Agent Orange – The Legacy Of War In Viet Nam

Agent Orange  – The Legacy Of War In Viet Nam

“Vietnam was a country where America was trying to make people stop being communists by dropping things on them from airplanes.” Kurt Vonnegut

Agent Orange was one of the herbicides used against the Viet Cong by the Americans in 1961-1971. It was given its name from the color of the orange-striped barrels in which it was shipped. Agent Orange contains a very toxic dioxin compound. At the time there was an absence of any humanitarian laws about herbicides. The UN adopted a law in 1978 that prevents the use of herbicides that have long-lasting toxic effects on a case by case basis.

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The goal was to destroy rural forested land and nearby crops depriving guerrillas of food and cover and clearing sensitive military areas. ,The program was also a part of a general policy which aimed to destroy the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, depriving the guerrillas of their rural support base.

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The campaign destroyed 5 million acres of land and mangrove forests and millions of acres of crops. It was later discovered nearly all the food they had destroyed was not being produced for guerrillas; it was only being grown to support the local civilian population. This contributed to widespread famine, leaving hundreds of thousands of people malnourished or starving.

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Three million Vietnamese including their children have suffered illnesses as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange. Multiple health problems include, cleft palate, mental disabilities, hernias, extra fingers and toes, cancer, diabetes, birth defects, and genetic diseases. High levels of the toxic dioxin compound are found in the soil around the American military bases where they were stored and will continue to cause illness for the Vietnamese people.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 12.16.28 AMFor the past 52 years, the Vietnamese people have attempted to discuss this legacy of war by trying to get the United States and the chemical companies to accept responsibility for using such dangerous chemicals on civilian populations. The United States says the figures and testing are unreliable and have yet to accept any financial responsibility for the victims.

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The Vietnamese have established “peace villages”, which each host between 50 and 100 victims, giving them medical and psychological help. U.S. veterans of the war and sympathetic people have supported these programs in Vietnam. An international group of veterans from the U.S. and its allies during the Vietnam War working with their former enemy — veterans from the Viet Nam Veterans Association — established the Viet Nam Friendship Village[1 outside of Hanoi.

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We stopped in a place outside Hanoi where victims of Agent Orange wove artwork. As Americans and human beings, we need to support these places when we travel.

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Though my family was always against the Viet Nam War, I feel the guilt of an American. I came from a country who fought for many years in Viet Nam. I guess they thought they were doing something good, but they weren’t fighting for their country and trying to protect their villages and children so after a while they left. I don’t really understand anymore why we had been there at all.

Di du lịch một cách an toàn,

JAZ