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Exploring a coconut thatch-making village in Vietnam’s Hoi An

Sunday, April 19, 2015, 12:53 GMT+7
Exploring a coconut thatch-making village in Vietnam’s Hoi An
Foreign tourists cycle on the path leading to the Cam Thanh Village, located in Hoi An City in the central province of Quang Nam.

Tuoi Tre News introduces you to a coconut thatch-making village which idyllically nestles in the proximity of UNESCO-recognized Hoi An Ancient Town in central Vietnam.

The Cam Thanh Village lies around five kilometers to the east of Hoi An Ancient Town, located in Hoi An City in the central province of Quang Nam. The village hides itself amidst the lush greenery of Bay Mau water coconut swamps. Over recent years, the swamps and the village have grown into a popular destination for domestic and international tourists alike.

The paths leading to the village meander around crisscrossing canals and are lined with carpet-like sheets of coconut thatch.

According to elders, the village’s craft came into being over 200 years ago.

Villagers initially weaved water coconut leaves into sheets of thatch as proofing for their own cottages.

Later, as demand for thatch cottages surged, many households in Cam Thanh Village turned to performing the craft professionally.

The village’s products were once in great demand and sold across the country.

However, there were times when the craft experienced its downfall over the emergence of cheap, durable construction materials.

Bay Mau water coconut swamps, which serve as bountiful supplies for Cam Thanh craftspeople. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In recent years, the craft has been jerked back to life thanks to the growing demand for coconut thatch used in restoring age-old houses and decorating restaurants, resorts, and cafés.

Such coconut thatched cottages or bungalows are comforting and cool to stay in, and indulge tourists in pastoral enjoyment.

Producing sheets of thatch entails different phases and Cam Thanh villagers go through all these phases manually with astonishing dexterity.

The most labor-intensive phase is lopping coconut leaves.

Workers cut all the aging leaves, leaving younger ones to mature for the next season.

The leaves are then ripped before being dried thoroughly.

The craftspeople make sure the leaves are not too dry or brittle during the drying process.

Then come fixating different leaves and rimming them with long bamboo strips, which are doused in water for around one year to ensure their suppleness and immunity to insects.

These two phases are of the essence as they can make or break the final products.

Making coconut thatch has provided villagers with a stable livelihood, with sheets earning them around VND100,000 (US$5) each.

The Cam Thanh Village nestles serenely amidst lush coconut swamps and crisscrossing canals just as a peninsula. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Young children can help their parents with simple tasks in making thatch, and many have performed the craft with ease as soon as they turn 13 or 14 years old.

Tourists can pay a visit to the village almost all year round, except for flooding days when villagers suspend their activity.

They are all welcome to get involved in the different phases of producing the thatch sheets.

A rustically-looking, drafty coconut thatched cottage in the Cam Thanh Village. Photo: Tuoi Tre

A worker is seen using bamboo strips to fixate and rim coconut leaves into a sheet of coconut thatch. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Foreign tourists are shown taking a boat trip around the Cam Thanh Village. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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