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Seven Vietnamese skirt country’s coast on bamboo rafts

Saturday, February 02, 2019, 11:36 GMT+7
Seven Vietnamese skirt country’s coast on bamboo rafts
Sailors are seen on a bamboo raft just off the Vietnamese coast. Photo: Do Nguyen Ai / Tuoi Tre

Seven men have embarked on a journey on two bamboo rafts along almost the entire coast of Vietnam as a way to experience what ancient Vietnamese felt in their sea migration.

On January 28, the seven sailors, two of them fishermen, stopped over in the central city of Da Nang in the presence of surprised crowds, ending a 99-hour seaborne sail ride that started nine days earlier in the northern tourist city of Sam Son.

They have moved 297 nautical miles (550 kilometers) in coastal waters and planned to complete their adventure at the southwestern resort island of Phu Quoc within the remaining 31 days, said group leader Do Nguyen Ai.

All the members did their daily activities such as cooking and sleeping on two rafts, each of which measures less than three by seven meters and has masts no higher than seven meters.

“They are genuienly bamboo rafts, with bamboo sticks tied together with ropes without the use of any screws or nails,” said Chau Hung, another sailor.

But at least the sailors carried equipment of modern life such as GPS tracking gadgets, telecommunication devices, lights and rechargeable batteries.

A man uses a telecommunication device on a bamboo raft. Photo: Truong Trung / Tuoi Tre 
A man uses a telecommunication device on a bamboo raft. Photo: Truong Trung / Tuoi Tre 

The seven men, coming from different areas across Vietnam, decided to embark on the coastal journey after they met one another as members of a sail club.

Converging on Sam Son, a coastal city of the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, they worked out a plan two months and a half ahead of the travel, while it took one month to complete the rafts, group leader Ai said.

“We wanted to create rafts out of the simplest things to go at sea the same way as ancient Vietnamese did in their southward expansion,” Hung explained further.

“We want to feel how they lived on rafts.”

He was referring to the 700-year-long effort started in the eleventh century by Vietnamese dynasties to occupy land in the central and southern regions of modern Vietnam, although the means of transport back then were as simple as boats and rafts.

“We wish to see how they did it and show the world that Vietnamese bamboo rafts are totally able to cross the sea,” he added.

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