Just 15 minutes from Hoi An is the South China Sea. Its long, wide coastline of fine, white sand extends for miles. Up until recently, this area has remained surprisingly undeveloped, but that is changing faster than one can imagine (much like the whole of Vietnam). We stayed in the area of An Bang beach, a special place with only a few foreigners but A LOT of beauty, inside and out.
This what the beach looks like most days: empty and gorgeous.
The local fisherman are a tough bunch, braving often rough seas that have taken many lives over the years. They fish in basket boats with one oar and are seen parked along the beach.
They guys are coming in, maybe after a whole night of fishing.
The boats are surprisingly heavy!
In my pretrip research, I found a very special place to stay offering western amenities yet situated in a rural fishing hamlet: An Bang Seaside Village Homestay. The owners bought the land from a fisherman’s family who could not afford to send their kids to school. In return, the homestay supports the family, donates to the school, and provides several employment opportunities for other villagers. The quiet, friendly village is mostly comprised of traditional cement homes, with wooden shutters and doorways painted the characteristic colors of yellow, blue, and torquoise. The homestay, with its separate bungalows mimics this style. Chris and the kids on the front porch:
The receptionist, Kim, is especially wonderful. Her English is great and she has been such a sweet presence, playing with the kids and patiently answering our questions about Viet culture and language. We love Ms. Kim.
Ms. Kim graciously took us to visit the local school today, a big highlight, especially since we can’t do much more while it rained buckets.
We were amazed by the beautiful handwriting on the chalk board. The script reminded me of the same writing I have seen from the 17 and 1800’s. (A side job of mine when I lived in Berkeley was once sorting through an elderly lawyer’s family archives, which included 200 years old letters and bills.)
Merle sat in a desk for a mere minute- I think that was enough for him.
We were treated to an impromptu Vietnamese lesson by Kim. The kids of course felt compelled to tag the the chalk board.
Time to wash hands in the little kids’ sink, which was like a lot of things here, outside.
Ms. Kim had become a friend in a very short time, and we were sad to say goodbye.
Another favorite An Bang local was a 10 year old girl named Vy, who greeted us on our first day in perfect English and commenced to play with the kids everyday. She and her friends played sort of double Dutch with a rope of rubber bands joined together with Mathilda and made a crown of flowers for her hair. Naturally, it was love at first sight from both sides.