Monday, 26 March 2012

Fishing Village Life - Mui Ne

The photography tour took us from Saigon to Mui Ne, via Phan Thiet town, where hundreds of fishing boats were moored. It was sunset but the boats were not going out tonight; apparently fuel prices were too high. While the boats were not behaving photogenically, the overcast sky meant that some of the town streets were,

Brushed Grey - Phan Thiet
… especially these two boys who insisted on stopping on a busy bridge road during peak hour traffic to have their photo taken.

Eager for a Snap - on the bridge at Phan Thiet
Dinner was another walk on the wild side. It was up to Kevan and I to dig into the most exotic thing we could find on the Rung Forest restaurant menu. A candlelit basket of crunchy grilled crickets, accompanied with grilled eel and grilled frog, washed down with Tiger beer - delicious!

The Rung Forest Grilled Special of Eel, Frog and Cricket - Mui Ne
Crunchy! Tia eating grilled cricket - Mui Ne
It was an early pre-dawn start, something that I struggled to get used to with this photography tour. But being able to watch a fishing village wake up was worth it. We were there just as the light began to glow, and the first of the local women arrived to receive the night's catch.

Boats in the Bay - Mui Ne
Basket boats bobbed in the water, waiting.

Basket Boat Trio - Mui Ne
Basket Boat on the Beach - Mui Ne
And slowly, one by one, boats arrived. Nets were offloaded from fishing boats to basket boats, which were then expertly paddled into shore.

Paddling a Basket Boat - Mui Ne
Then the contents of the nets were sorted, weighed, haggled over and sold to the villagers who came down looking for produce of the sea.

Shoppers waiting for fish to be sorted - Mui Ne
Husbands do the fishing, wives do the sorting and selling, but the few boats that had ventured out that night were not very successful. One woman commented that while a usual night's catch would bag ten US dollars worth of fish, crustaceans and shellfish, this catch would only fetch five US dollars.

Will There Be Fish Today? Wives waiting for fishermen to return - Mui Ne
The fish were tiny, with all manner of minuscule reef life dragged along to the surface, and nothing was put back into the sea. I struggled to understand their thinking when taking small fish, with no sense of allowing the fish population to breed or grow bigger, but with such low incomes and limited laws or education, we could only sigh and note how fishing village life would be hard.

But you know what, things could always be worse. Life as a fighting cockerel is most certainly not all roses. Although somewhat illegal in this country, breeding and betting on tough, kick-boxing chickens is common, and down on the beach in Mui Ne a flurry of feathers caught our eye.

Flurry of the Phoenix - Cock Fight Training, Mui Ne
Thankfully, these two were only in training, so no knives were attached to their feet, but when money is on the table, no doubt they would be armed and death will await.

Owned - Cock Fight Sparring, Mui Ne
One disturbing sight was shaving the fighting cocks. When fighting, any bits of skin that cockerels naturally grow become grabbing points for their opponents. So the birds are held down and the flesh is literally cut off.

Shaving - Cock Fight Preparation, Mui Ne
Life can be very tough.

One Tough Chicken - Cock Fight Preparation, Mui Ne

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