BackTravel » [Photos] The Young Man and The Sea: Fishing at Dawn by the Cham Islands

[Photos] The Young Man and The Sea: Fishing at Dawn by the Cham Islands

There I was again, squeaky wooden floorboards under my feet, dodging coils of soaked, salty ropes and boxes upon boxes of freshly caught fish. I wasn't going to leave Hoi An until I could join a fishing trip on one of those boats.

There was a group of locals, all smoking and looking at their vessels. More men came and surrounded us, and I kept trying to find someone to speak to about the boats. Eventually, one fisherman guided me to a house five minutes away, where a family was eating breakfast together.

A young girl named Ni asked if she could help. I told her about my desire to document a fishing trip and she took me inside the house. We sat together with her family, and I smiled politely as they spoke together in Vietnamese about my idea.  

Eventually, Ni’s mother and father looked at me, smiled warmly, and nodded. Named Tam and Loc, they are each involved in fish trading, but they do it at sea, going straight to the fisherman's boat and buying the fish right there while it’s still wet and kicking.

We met again the following day, which started coal-black at 4am. Tam heated coffee on a small fireplace inside the boat as we navigated towards the Cham Islands. A deep red sunrise burnt across the sky.

There is a clear routine to their life at sea. We ended up boarding eight boats to browse various catches of fish and eels. Tam and Loc negotiated the price right on deck –  heated exchanges always ending with handshakes and smiles.

After a lunch of fresh shrimp, we headed back to one of the numerous fish markets that hug the shore. We slid all the fish we bought during the day into giant, colorful boxes so they were ready to sell. All except those we ate, which we washed down with sun-warmed beer that felt truly deserved.  

Related Articles

in Travel

A Day in the Life of Madame Xuân, Hoi An's 85-Year-Old Vegetable Vendor

She is not famous but has silently become a part of Hoi An’s cultural beauty for years.

in Culture

Basket Boats: A Key Part of Everyday Life in Coastal Vietnam

Vietnam’s narrow tube houses come from the feudal era and the tax policy in effect at the time. The feudal state charged a fee based on the width of the street-facing facade to collect taxes, pushing ...

in Travel

Beach Camping and Bamboo Rafting in Northern Vietnam's Largest Wetland

An overnight stay in Xuân Thủy National Park, Nam Định Province means potential bug bites, snake encounters and pungent ocean air, but also a rewarding quest into the wild wetlands of northern Vietnam...

in Travel

With Summer Comes a Glorious Lotus Harvest Season in Hoi An

The farmers we met in these fields near Hoi An have been working their lotus farms since the end of the 1970s. The area has been a hub of lotus production in the decades since.

Chris Humphrey

in Travel

[Photos] Exploring the Myriad Cathedrals of Nam Dinh Province

Though they receive more attention, the cathedrals of Hanoi and Saigon pale in comparison to those found in Nam Dinh Province. What’s more, the area not only boasts a surprising array of these magnifi...

Chris Humphrey

in Travel

[Photos] The Poetry of Everyday Life in Vietnam's Coastal Towns

Traveling south through central Vietnam by train can bring you to the familiar or the obscure: the Disney-fication of Hoi An, the peaceful bays of Quy Nhon, or the thrill of derelict spaces in Hue.

Partner Content