I went to Viet Hai commune, Cat Ba island district, Hai Phong province
to visit my friend and her family on Feb 21&22, 2015.
There were/are many people I called “friend” in my life, but she is a TRULLY friend, close friend.
We were roommates for 2.5 years when we stayed in dormitory of university.
She was being with me when I needed her/someone most.
We can say that we understand each other.
Sometimes she even knows about me better than my family.
She knows who am I inside.
Can’t say how grateful am I to have her in my life.
Up to now, we are still updated each other daily, or at least weekly.
Being friends for 7 years, she has been to my house/hometown with me 2 times.
It was my first time to visit her place. Her father just passed away on Feb 2.
Her mother and two siblings were home with her.
Going with me was Ate Fritz Sison, we took a bus from my town to Hai Phong city.
Then we caught a taxi to Binh station. We met V there.
V is boyfriend of H – my friend. They were about to married if the death of her father didn’t come.
From Binh station, we took a hydrofoil to Cat Ba town (fare: 150,000 VND, time: 45 mins).
Cat Ba town
From Cat Ba town, we took a motorbike taxi (15,000VND; 7kms) to Cai Beo port.
From Cai Beo port, we took another boat to go to Viet Hai commune (her town).
From the ferry station at Viet Hai commune, we need to get another van to go to her place.
To see how “complicate” it is, there are 6 hydrofoil trips from Hai Phong city to Cat Ba town everyday.
But there are only one or two boat trip from Cai Beo port to Viet Hai commune in one day.
So sometime it takes a day to travel for a distance of less than 200km to her place.
We were lucky, we got her home by 1pm.
Cai Beo port and the boat travel to Viet Hai commune
The boat is quite nice, there is a table to have tea. People can bring their motorbike with them (for extra fee).
On the way, there were some passengers same boat with us drop at their houses.
The house is a floating house.
Although it’s a tourism place, people here aren’t that rich.
Since they don’t speak English. Not any travel agency connect with them.
so just 2-3 families here have tourism business.
Many foreign and Vietnamese tourists travel here.
The tourists and and villagers see others everyday,
but between them is a totally different world.
Many villagers never experienced traveling inside Vietnam,
not saying about outside Vietnam.
But I love the peace and simple atmosphere here.
You can see in the picture: the well which her family get water,
and the house for the chicken which they are raising.
They still cook by wood, and here is their kitchen:
A kettle which Ate Fritz told me that Father A (a priest – her friend) would die to have this.
Many of their relatives/neighbors are fishers, so they are provided fresh fishes and squids
with very cheap price or sometimes for free.
We went around to visit the commune. And the picture below is office of local government
and the water pumping station:
It’s a house made by soil and a banana flower
Since it’s a tourism village, there are many foreigners come here to rent bicycles and
riding around the town. (When I got home, I told my Mom that: In our town, there are
just few foreigners visit in one year. But in front of H’s house, there are groups of foreigners
riding bicycles everyday).
We got into the “forest” and we harvested some ferns as veggie for our dinner.
That is where people made their boats. Knitted bamboo is putted into a mold to shape a boat,
Then asphalt is poured to make the boat waterproofing.
V thrusted down some pomelos, one of them fell down to the small pond.
Then H and her younger sister tried to get the pomelo back.
We were entering Viet Hai elementary school to get some star fruits on the tree inside the school.
It’s the only school in this town and since it’s a small town
there are very few students. My friend told me: when she studied in this school, there were only
20 (TWENTY) pupils from grade 1 to grade 5. And since the school only open a class if there are
minimum of 3 pupils, village dwellers need to discuss with each other to give birth in same year.
My friend climbed tree to get some star fruits, while her boyfriend tried to catch the fruits.
Observe and her sister, I see how strong and how fast they are,
living this way is already their skills.
Life here happens like this, many things are almost free and natural.
They are fresh boiled crabs and our amazing dinner mostly from the things we harvested.
I love the salad the most, it’s crazy masarap. Fritz also told me that she missed this salad.
Evening time, we sat down and talked, H’s mother told me a lot about her life,
a life full of bitters which she lived, I wonder how can she always keep that smile on her face.
There were 2 neighbors visited her house, burned incense to pray to her father.
He wore a police’s hat which made me a little bit afraid. H’s mother told me that
he collected from someone else.
Next day, many of H’s relatives came to help the family prepare a meal to offer her father
as well as say farewell for Tet. And this is how did they prepare the food and
how the altar look like.
A Brazilian guy passed by, took a picture of her house, and said it’s very beautiful,
made me also took one. What? A very simple house with the door can’t be locked
is very beautiful? The toilet and the bathroom has only one removable common
door. When you need to use any of them, carry the door to cover it.
And here is our way to go back Cat Ba town.