What were those little dots bobbing just off the coast in the South China Sea? Vietnamese Basket Boats. When France ruled Vietnam, a tax was levied on boats. Resourceful Vietnamese stopped using boats and switched to large baskets for fishing, and today, they’re still in use. We watched as the fishermen maneuvered their baskets through the surf to shore, where others raced up to help carry the basket “boat” and its styrofoam coolers full of fish up the beach.
We watched the action from front row seats (lounges under umbrellas) on a long and wide stretch of Fresh Beach, between An Bang and Cua Dai Beaches.
In fact, that day we were the only ones not working on the beach. What a discovery! We’d cycled from our hotel in Hoi An heading for a quiet beach. A sign appeared about 1.5 km north of Cua Dai Beach pointing to Fresh Beach.
We followed the sign down the path. At the last house on the lane, a family came out. They greeted us and told us to park our bicycles at their house for safekeeping. The cost? No cost, but they had lounges on the beach and umbrellas and asked if we’d like to use them for the day for 50,000 dong ($2.40 US) for the two of us. Perfect! We ordered drinks and a late lunch too for a very reasonable 140,000 dong ($7 US). Tasty fare.
We spent most of the day resting on the lounges and reading. The sunny day turned overcast, and a strong breeze ended our time on the beach. We biked back enjoying the scenery: shops and cafes lining the road, a bridge, a water buffalo heading straight for us on the side of the road and then ignoring us as we passed.
We stopped at a little riverside café for coconut ice cream. As soon as we sat down, the skies opened up, and rain poured down. Our timing could not have been better! Within ten minutes the rain disappeared, and the skies cleared. We climbed on our bikes and rode back to the hotel.
Because of a tax? So that’s where they got the idea from. I learnt something today.