When people go to Halong Bay, they only see one side of what the area has to offer. Here's the other side.
The Fish Sauce Factory
To get to the much loved Co To and Quan Lan islands in Halong Bay, you need to go to the island of Van Don and take a boat from the fishing port of Cai Rong.
Sat on the other side of the limestone karsts that help form one of Vietnam’s premier tourist attractions, this living, breathing, age-old port is the embodiment of what life was like in the area before something called tourism took over. There may be modern electronics, bottled beer, printed shop signs and fizzy drinks, but beyond that, little has changed. Here the traditional non la conical hats are still the norm rather than the exception.
A short distance away is a fish-sauce factory. With a bit of friendly persuasion we managed to get inside. The management wouldn’t talk to us too much about the fermentation process of the anchovies — trade secrets, don’t you know — but we were allowed to wander around and watch the place at work. We were also able to head down to the dock to watch them unloading a new batch of anchovies.
Fish sauce or nuoc mam is like good wine and Vietnam is believed to have invented the stuff. At least, that’s what Wikipedia, that 100 percent verified fountain of knowledge, suggests. The fermentation process, time period, quality of fish and type of barrel used all affect the outcome. We bought a couple of the more expensive bottles. The grade was 41N. When I got it home you could smell and taste the richness. For me, not as good as the Phu Quoc equivalent. But then, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to these things.
To see more articles in this story, please click on the links below:
The Undiscovered Coast
Undiscovered Binh Thuan
The Paradise of Ninh Thuan
The Wildness of Con Dao
The Rocks of Phu Yen
The Beaches Around Quy Nhon
The Abandoned Church
The Other Side of Halong Bay
North of Cua Lo
The Islands off Phu Quoc
Where The Mekong Hits the Sea