The Vietnamese diet is heavy on green vegetables, both cooked and raw greens that accompany meat and fish dishes – this is one of the things I love about being here. Hoi An’s principal market in the old town has a wide range of vegetables, some are not to be found outside of Vietnam.
I was mining old images of Vietnam recently – working on a “best of” gallery – and came across this photo from a 2018 visit to Hoi An. The two women, who I am guessing are sisters, have a certain appeal in a cantankerous kind of way, and the vibrant, lush colors are so typical of Hoi An. Beyond a minor exposure adjustment, the raw image took virtually no post-processing. Pretty much ready to go out of the box.
It’s 10 in the morning and this woman is finished serving breakfast. She has packed up her tiny noodle shop on wheels and is getting ready to head home.
Minh and I spent 24 hours taking a look at Cham Island, which is about 15km off the coast of Hoi An. Actually, there is one small island where all the residents live and several tiny islands that make up the small group, so I suppose it is more accurate to say Cham Islands. Called Cù lao Chàm, the island group has been designated a world Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO. The largest of the islands is about 12 sq km, and home to some 500 families, according to one local resident. The primary occupations appear to be fishing and servicing the tourists, almost all Vietnamese at this point, who arrive to look around, swim and snorkel in the clear water of the East Sea, and enjoy eating the fresh seafood provided by the island’s other industry.
Cù lao Chàm is part of Quang Nam province, and provincial authorities are intent on developing tourism on the islands. As recently as a few years ago, the big island did not have a 24/7 power supply, and the water and beach areas were dirty with trash. Today, there are guesthouses along the waterfront road in the largest village, and the village areas and beaches are clean – there is virtually no trash in the water – the entire island is quite delightful really. Also on the plus side, there are no cars on the island, people move around on motorbikes. There is no gas station, so somebody must be bringing gasoline in drums from the mainland.
There is a second small village down the road from the large village where the tourist boats arrive. Lots of construction here of what appear to be large villas. It is easy to imagine the fragile, and still rather pristine environment of this island being overwhelmed by tourist arrivals.
The small beach in the photo is a km or two from the main village. Locals come for a swim late in the afternoon when the sun is low in the sky and not as intense as it is midday. The soft light is spectacular.