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Sunday, 17 May 2020

The Basket Boats Of Vietnam



I can't help but marvel at the round boats that dot the coasts of Danang. These boats look like huge baskets and because they do not assume the typical V-shape of normal boats, they look quaint and are quite cute actually!

I can't remember seeing these boats during my previous trips to Vietnam and that's because they are only found along the coastal areas of the southern half of the country.

The existence of these boats is believed to date back to the era of French colonisation of Vietnam. It was an ingenious creation born out of financial desperation of poor fishermen who could not afford to pay levy on normal boats imposed by the then French Government. The rationale is '"It is just a basket so it should assume a tax-free status'. Since then its popularity has not waned and myriads of such boats are still seen serving their function till this day. They have even become a lifestyle among the local fishermen and villagers who live along the waterways of the region.


Cruising On A Basket Boat
Today the basket boats are not only used as a means of fishing and transportation, they have been reinvented as a tourists attraction, serving as "cruise boats" for tourists who wish to get a feel riding them.
There are a number of agents that organize "eco-tours" where tourist will be taken for a cruise along narrow streams surrounded by coconut trees and mangrove palm vegetation. I took mine at Cam Thanh Village. For a 40 minutes basket boat ride, I paid RM 50, a price which probably included transportation and a 'cut' for the agent.
The pier is located about 5 to 6 km from Hoi An. Each boat sits two passengers and is rowed by a boatman using just one oar.





This is an aerial view of the mangrove palm forest we cruised through. 

The basket boats are not unique to Vietnam as they can also be found in certain parts of countries like India, Nepal, Tibet and Britain. Probably unique to Vietnam is the basket boat performance which is quite interesting to watch. The highlight of my cruise that day was a vibrant show of skill by a young man who made the boat twirl and gyrate non-stop while deftly balancing on it. It was entertaining and mood lifting  as he did this with the accompaniment of a very loud and catchy Chinese pop song.



1 comment :

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