Vietnamese fishing boat (thung chai)
Round Vietnamese fishing boats (thung chai) can be seen in many photos and advertisements, before you even come to Vietnam. They are a real symbol of Vietnam, because of their authentic and colorful look. They are used everywhere on the coast of Vietnam, despite their simplicity and primitiveness.
What are the thung chai boats made of?
Traditionally, these boats are made of bamboo rods, coated with resin. Thung chai is even translated to Russian as “basket-resin”. But now the boats are often made not only of bamboo, but also of plastic (they look like very large bowls). Plastic in Vietnam is very cheap, and the process of traditional production of boats with bamboo is complex and time-consuming: bamboo is impregnated with resin and dried, then the boat is weaved on a special frame of rods. Plastic boats are more practical, they are manufactured on an industrial scale, but they look, of course, not as authentic as bamboo ones.
The use of thung chai boats
Basket boats are used by fishermen to place and collect nets in coastal waters, as well as to get from shallow water to fishing boats that are located away from the shore or to overcome the surf. It happens that the tourists travel to a bigger vessel on such a boat, as motor boats can not come closer to the shore. This way to travel is used near Ke Ga Lighthouse. When the waves are strong, it’s hard to keep balance in such a basket, you need to hold tight. The boat can accommodate three or four people. One of them rows standing up. Modern basket boats can be equipped with a motor.
In some Vietnamese provinces, a large ship goes to sea carrying some basket boats. Far away from the shore, the boats are thrown into the water and distributed at a distance of several meters from each other. Then the fishermen begin to fish. This boats can also serve to carry products in the Vietnamese floating market. Going fishing, the fishermen put their meals in the boats. They also put the catch there on their way back.
In the fishing villages, the boats are also used for fun folk competitions.
Today tourists specially come to the fishing villages to see the colorful seascape with thung chai basket boats. Many people take photos on their background.
Time goes by, the technology, including different vessels, improves, but Vietnamese fishing boats are still actively used and will probably exist for a long time, as well as the famous Vietnamese cone hats “non”.