The best part of it is that the extraordinary landscape that the 100-hectare Chuon Lagoon presents is unscathed by populist tourism. The lagoon is part of the Tam Giang brackish water lagoon system in the central province of Thua Thien – Hue.
As with any fishing environs, the sunrise is spectacular and Chuon Lagoon starts waking up to the sounds of oars hitting the waters as local fishermen row their boats full of fish and shrimps back to shore after a long night out.
Chuon Lagoon and its fishing network is a sight of rare beauty as the colors of dawn are broken by a myriad of fences. Photographers will have a field day here.
“When it comes to Hue, people always think about imperial palaces, royal tombs and French-influenced heritage sites. They always miss this hidden lagoon,” said photographer Nong Van Toan, a native of Hue.
Over the last few years, photographers have been converging on this place, tipped off by word of mouth. It is generally agreed that 5.30 a.m. to 7 a.m. is the most ideal time of the day to shoot pictures at the Chuon Lagoon.
Fishing is the main vocation of the lagoon’s residents who live in their boats all year round.
An intricate network of fences and fish traps are used by locals to breed and catch fish in the Chuon Lagoon.
Makeshift bamboo shacks serve as accommodation for visitors who want to stay overnight and get a closer look at local life on the lagoon.
Fishermen start catching fish from 6 p.m. when the sun goes down and end their work at 6 a.m. the next day, and then bring the freshest baskets of fish to the morning seafood market.
Kinh fish (siganuscanaloculatu) is a specialty for Hue residents and is harvested in abundance from the Chuon Lagoon. The kinh fish harvesting season runs from the fourth to the seventh month of the lunar year. Each kilogram of kinh bought in the lagoon costs around VND100,000 ($4.3), while a kilo of large shrimp is priced at VND150,000 ($6.4).
Tourists can buy the fish from local fishermen and go to any of the huts nearby to ask locals to make banh khoai ca kinh (a fried pancake served with kinh fish), a must-try dish.
Local kids are used to the floating existence and help the family with all related chores from a very early age.
Photos by Nong Thanh Toan, Cao Anh Tuan
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