This activity has recently become the special trait when visiting the Bay Mau water coconut forest in Cam Thanh commune, Hoi An city, Quang Nam.
Every Fisherman is a Circus Performer
Up to now, Bay Mau water coconut forest is still considered as the “center” of basket boats in Vietnam. The small boats seem to sway to the music of the forest, even remaining afloat on the noisy waves. The feeling of drifting under the cool coconut trees in the river region is appealing to many adventurous visitors.
Bay Mau water coconut forest has long been known as the miniature “Western part” in the heart of Hoi An. Basket boats are the main mode of transportation through the forests full of shrimp and fish.
According to the people of Cam Thanh commune, for generations, the water coconut forest has protected the villagers from the waves from the sea. In addition, the forest also produces shrimp and fish. In recent years, coconut forest has become a special tourist destination of Quang Nam.
Previously, the whole Cam Thanh commune had only 30 basket boats which were the main fishing tools. Since September 2009, the People’s Committee of Quang Nam province planned to develop Bay Mau coconut forest to become a tourist destination. Besides, this area is also invested to be a historical and cultural relic and a buffer zone of the world biosphere reserve of Cu Lao Cham. Since then, the coconut forest has become an attractive destination on the local tourist map, with 1,200 basket boats becoming an indispensable “specialty” for visitors coming here.
Currently, many people in Cam Thanh have completely switched to providing basket boating services and selling food and beverage. This has significantly increased their income. With the gradual control over Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism market has fully opened, people who basket boating are also earning a stable amount.
It is worth mentioning that fishermen not only know how to row a basket boat, but they also know how to perform boating no different from circus performers. For them, turning the boat and riding the water is just an easy and common skill.
Cuong is currently providing basket boating service in Bay Mau water coconut forest. He said: “Most of the people here are getting used to life in river area since childhood, living mainly on fishing boats. For them, they can easily perform the foot pedaling and jumping to shake the boat and bring the feeling of “flying” and floating for tourists.”
The Revival of Water Coconut Forest Tourism
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Bay Mau coconut forest attracted thousands of visitors every day. But in the past 2 years, tourism in this area has almost frozen, leaving people with no source of income.
|Fisherman performing boating. (Photo: TGVN)
However, these days, the old town of Hoi An is beginning and the path to the coconut forest to be busy with many cars parked one after another.
According to statistics of Cam Thanh Tourism Management Board, the number of visitors began to change from May with about 20,000 arrivals and about 30,000 in June. In July, the number of visitors has skyrocketed, with about 3,000 visitors on weekends and 1,000-2,000 on normal days.
The entrance price to the coconut forest is kept at VND 30,000 per person. Visitors can rent a basket boat to visit the forest at a cost of VND 75,000 – 150,000 per person, with one ride normally last about an hour. The small basket boats floating on the water are skillfully pushed and controlled by the boatman, demonstrating safety during the trip.
After visiting the coconut forest, tourists are also guided by local boatmen to make lovely gifts from the leaves of coconut trees; giving souvenirs from coconut leaves such as hand watches, rings, locusts…
Besides boating, it would be regretful if visitors skip the unique local cuisine. There are many dishes with delicious and attractive flavors such as roasted shrimp, sour clam soup, grilled snails, grilled fish, banh xeo, banh bao in a bowl, meat rolls, banana flower salad, Quang noodles, chicken rice, water coconut cakes, water coconut jam, fish braised with coconut water…
The climate in Bay Mau coconut forest is divided into two main seasons: the dry season from January to September and the rainy season from October to December. From January – March is a very beautiful season in the coconut forest and suitable for visitors coming here, since that is the time when the trees and the whole forest is sprouted with a fresh green color, combined with the cool climate.
From April – September is when the weather turns to summer with quite hot and sunny weather, so visitors need to prepare enough sunscreen to avoid sunburn.
October – December is the rainy and stormy season in the Central region, therefore visitors need to consider when choosing a tourist destination here.
Leaders of Hoi An city shared that in the future, Hoi An has the plan to turn the “capital” of basket boats into a river tourism village, with the development of more craft products such as building houses from water coconuts, handmade fish sauce, and promoting other local favourites.