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"New Day on Son Islet"- Preservation of Old Spirits in New Rhythm of Life
Date: 18/06/2020

After a long temporary halt in service due to COVID-19 pandemic, Can Tho Tourism has had a brand new restart. In fact, Son Islet - a community tourist destination in Bui Huu Nghia Ward, Binh Thuy District, Can Tho City, has offered a series of new products and services called "New Day on Son Islet", promising lots of distinctive experiences.
Mr. Le Van Lam’s presentation of sharpening chopsticks and weaving hammocks

Son Islet is known as a destination typical of Southern culture and its unique lifestyle of the local community. After a 5- year development in tourism, it has still preserved its unique features in its different tourism products: "special shows of fish" (strange fish, flying snakehead fish, feeding fish with a spoon, fish preying insects by spitting ...), community meals, flying menus, preparing folk cakes...

Recently, this islet has restarted its tourism service with a new form, "New Day on Son Islet ", to exploit the local cultural elements by recreating traditional craft villages: sharping chopsticks, knitting hammocks, making glutinous rice chupatties or popcorn, trying to dry out ditches to catch fish on land, trying meals of the land reclamation time ... Mr. Ly Van Bon, the owner of Bay Bon Fishing Raft, says, “Tourism requires frequent reformation to attract visitors to return." Located at the entrance to Son Islet, his raft with various strange types of fish is considered as a museum of live freshwater fish in the Mekong River. This time, he has trained the carps to massage visitors’ feet, which is believed to be an enjoyable experience for those who visit his raft.

According to Ms. Le Thi Be Bay, a member of the Con Son islet tourism community, “Tourism activities have been difficult recently due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we consider it both a challenge and an opportunity to be proactive in changing our service and products. We focus on restoring the traditional craft villages, which we have been thinking about for the past 5 years and now is officially put into operation. With "New Day on Son Islet", you have an opportunity to watch artisans performing how to pound glutinous rice chupatties, weave hammocks, and sharpen chopsticks. Ms. Nguyen Thi Nam, a presenter of pounding glutinous rice chupatties, says, “My family has been doing this job for a long time, but nowadays we rarely practice it. Only on special occasions like Tet Holidays or anniversaries do we use the mortar to prepare this cake. Knowing that young guys from tourism service wish to restore the local traditional crafts, we are more than happy to join them to contribute to the community development.” Moreover, Mr. Le Van Tam, a presenter of sharpening chopsticks and knitting hammocks, cheerfully notes, “The traditional handcraft requires much hard work, so few want to keep it today. We have tried our best with the hope that the next generations will know the origin of these simple and ordinary things as well as the life of local people in the past.”

Drying out ditches to catch fish and frogs on land at Mr. Tran Minh Dat's house.

Local people own a typical rustic and simple style of the South in their tourism service. They are enthusiastic to answer and share their experience and knowledge or even tell a few vivid stories in response to visitors’ questions. Mr. Bui Van Hieu, Director of Ben Thanh Tourist Can Tho, remarks, “Tourism products here are typical of Southern culture. From our perspective, such products are suitable in the current situation. In fact, tourism in many places has been saturated and industrialized, so it is not easy to find an intact "old spirit" place like this. Locals are willing not only to restore the local traditional craft villages but also to share their culture with others. It is their honesty that many travelers want to experience. ” Similarly, Mr. Huynh Dang Khoa, Head of Sales and Marketing Department, EST.TRAVEL Company, Ho Chi Minh City, comments, “Can Tho has the great potential for tourism development. Flights from Can Tho are gradually increasing domestic and international arrivals, and it is very easy to pick up passengers from Binh Thuy District, which is close to the airport and quite convenient to access to its distinctive tourist destination - Son Islet. Young locals know how to create great products to attract both domestic and international visitors. Especially we are targeting Japanese and European customers known as difficult ones. The current period of stimulating tourism needs new factors in our products and services. We believe that these new offerings are suitable for our re-start phase.”

In fact, the following examples of Nam Phuoc, Bay Muon, Nam Minh ..., young people have returned to their hometown to contribute to tourism development. Typical examples of new products are Mr. Nguyen Minh Chien’s fish fed with a spoon, or Mr. Tran Minh Dat’s catching fish and frog on land, or Mr. Ho Cong Minh’s Son Islet rice flakes. Mr. Minh notes, “At first, I took advantage of the flower garden and perennial fruit trees to raise honey bees, which help increase the productivity of fruit trees around. Two years later, I happened to remember my grandfather’s making rice flakes in the past, so I decided to do it again. Then, together with my honey garden, I restore the traditional craft of making rice flakes, hoping to make a small contribution to the local tourism.”  Indeed, visitors like to buy this specialty as gifts for relatives and friends. In addition, variation can be seen in local food services. Tourists are served with rustic dishes from the land reclamation time.

Son Islet destination offers a lot of tours to experience rural community culture. This is a unique product in Can Tho City in the locals’ efforts to renew and diversify their services to meet visitors’ demands. What makes Son Islet more attractive is the locals’ constant creativeness and their preservation of the local cultural values, which has offered a new highlight to Can Tho tourism.

Source: Can Tho Newspaper - Translated by Diep Truong

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