Dec 6, 2012

Vietnam - The precious gem under the beauty’s pillow

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VietNamNet Bridge – While Cu Lao Cham (Cham Isle) in Quang Nam province receives thousands of tourists a day, Cu Lao Xanh (Green Isle) in Binh Dinh, also a wonderful natural landscape still cannot attract tourists. Local people, therefore, still have to live in poverty, though they have a gold mine.

Cu Lao Xanh has another name – the Van Phi Island, located near the Xuan Dai bay in Nhon Chau commune of Quy Nhon City in Binh Dinh province. The island covers an area of 365 hectares, where 2300 people are living. It is just 17 kilometers far from Quy Nhon City and six kilometers far from Xuan Hoa commune of Phu Yen province.

Near by a hair…

The isle not only has a beautiful name, but it also has a more advantageous position than any other coastal islands in Vietnam to develop tourism. It is just less than 10 kilometers far from the two central areas in the central region – Quy Nhon and Tuy Hoa.

However, the wonderful landscapes here still have not been known to tourists. In fact, tourists don’t have the opportunities to know about the beautiful island.

Some days ago, the group of 30 tourists from An Thien Hung Company in Hanoi went to Quy Nhon after finishing the tour to Hue City and Da Lat. At that time, they tried to catch a coach to Cu Lao Cham in Quang Nam, which was 300 kilometers away from the place where they were.

When a reporter suggested that they should travel to Cu Lao Xanh, just 10 kilometers away from Quy Nhon. If they want to return to Hanoi, they could take a flight from Phu Cat airport to Hanoi, which would allow saving time and money.

Nguyen Dieu Hoa, Director of An Thien Hung, was so surprised when hearing the word “Cu Lao Xanh.”

“Is there also a coastal island? Why can’t I find any information about the island on Internet?” Hoa questioned.

After some thoughts, Hoa and her workers decided to organize a tour to the island themselves, because no travel firm in Binh Dinh province providers the tour.

However, Hoa canceled the plan later. Hoa then realized that Cu Lao Xanh was wonderful, but she could not find a reasonable way to reach to the isle.

“I think we should wait for the Binh Dinh authorities to make investments to build roads to for travelers to go to the island,” Hoa said.

…but very far away

If staying ashore to look into the Quy Nhon bay, one would see the beautiful poetic Cu Lao Xanh. Thanks to the isle, Quy Nhon is known as the bay with the calmest waves in the central strip of land, which is safe from wind and typhoons.

However, it was more difficult than previously thought to go to the land. Travelers could not charter boats or canoes, because no one provided the service. The link between the land and the island depended on an old engine boat.

The boat was designed to contain 50 passengers and cargos – the articles of daily necessity for the island. It took two hours to travel with the boat to the island, which was a terrible time for those who suffered from seasick.

Meanwhile, just small canoes could have been able to carry tourists from the mainland to the island just after 20 minutes.

It was obvious that Hoa, the director of An Thien Hung made a right decision to cancel the trip to Cu Lao Xanh that day.

The tourism paradise lacks… chairs

Cu Lao Xanh, which deserves to be a tourism paradise, seems to be indifferent to tourists. No one intends to develop the local infrastructure to attract travelers.

No infrastructure items 

Dan Viet’s reporters felt lucky when they could find somewhere to stay when they visited the isle. If they had not informed about the trip to the Nhon Chau Commune People’s Committee, they would have not got a chair to sit.

The only guest house and the most luxurious one in the island is the guest house of the commune people’s committee, where there are three beds.

Le Van Sao, a local authorities’ officer, said if travelers “accidentally” arrive in the isle, they would have to seek somewhere to stay among people’s homes. If they cannot find any places, they would ask for the help from the commune authorities.

“Sometimes, we have to lend our office to the travelers,” Sao said.

In fact, the reporters were warned by Ngo Van Quy, Chair of the commune people’s committee that they would have to have meals with families of the commune’s leaders, because there are no food services on the isle.

The reporters were told to finish the dinner soon, because the electricity would be cut in some hours. Quy said that the island receives five billion dong a year from the budget which would be spent on necessary works in the commune. Of this sum, 2 billion dong has been used to buy oil to run the power generators from 7 pm to 8 pm every day.

In order to save money, local authorities only use electricity for lighting.

The most luxurious restaurant in the island is the pig’s trip soup shop of Tam Canh. This is considered the most luxurious shop in the island because there are some 10 chairs for visitors.

The land which does not welcome investors

A small canoe which can run fast at high speed, worth some 400 million dong remains the dream of the local people. It would be useful if someone falls sick on the island and he needs to be carried to the mainland urgently.

However, in the current conditions, it would take at least two hours to carry the victims to the shore. And this would be feasible only if the victims are from well off families which can pay 2 million dong immediately to ship owners.

In other cases, if the victims cannot pay 2 million dong to the ship owners, they would be first carried to the commune people’s committee, which would promise to pay money to ship owners, or advance money to ship owners to buy fuel. After the procedures are fulfilled, the victims would be carried to the hospitals in the mainland.

Local residents recalled the story about a teacher from Quy Nhon City, who left home for the island to work as a teacher. The teacher has died just because she could not be taken to hospitals quickly.

The soil in Nhon Chau commune is poor to organize agricultural production. Therefore, developing tourism proves to be the best solution for the locality. Investors, who hear about the wonderful landscapes here are always ready to inject money in the tourism projects in the island.

However, the investors cannot move ahead with their investment projects, simply because there has been no detailed programming on the locality development.

Quy said that no investor dares to pour money into the projects here, because they do not know if their projects can exist in the future, or they would be cleared by the provincial authorities to serve the local development strategy.

The stories about deficiency and redundancy

With no electricity, Cu Lao Xanh remains an isolated isle which cannot attract tourists.

Residents in Cu Lao Xanh, for the last many years, have been dreaming of electricity. A project on brining electricity to the isle by underground cable, capitalized at roughly 200 billion dong would help them change their lives.

However, instead of the project worth 200 billion dong, they would receive a project which is double that sum. Instead of the electricity project that can lighten the isle, local residents would receive a project on building a fresh water reservoir that they don’t need.

Unnecessary and redundant

Cu Lao Xanh deserves to be called a “tourism paradise” not only because of its beauty, but also because of the profuse fresh water source – the gift of the nature. All the households in the isle have a fresh water well which provides enough water for their daily lives.

When reporters said to Khanh, Deputy Chair of the Nhon Chau commune people’s committee that Cu Lao Xanh is so lucky to have limpid water, Khanh suddenly sit dumbfounded.

It seemed that the official of the commune authorities did not take pride of the fresh water resource in his locality. And he said: “Nhon Chau is a poor commune. And we would appreciate all the things to be given to us. However, it seems to be a waste of money if building a water reservoir here.”

Khanh used the word “waste of money” when talking about the water reservoir. However, the reporters could understand that Cu Lao Xanh’s residents do not need the reservoir, because they have fresh water in abundance already.

What the local residents want now is an electricity project. However, no one has promised such a “gift” to them, though the local authorities, which have been aware of their great advantages in developing tourism, have many times asked for the a power project, estimated to cost over 100 billion dong.

However, they would not receive what they want, but would receive what they don’t need.

A high school, why not?

There is a two story building on the isle, called the center for community activities. There is a room for people to read book, and there is a class to teach informatics to local residents, even though there is no electricity.

However, the center has been used as the place to keep farmers’ coracles because no community activities have taken place there so far. People here leave for the open sea in the morning and only return in the evening, and they do not have time for the “community activities”. Therefore, the only function of the center is just for keeping coracles.

Meanwhile, the isle is thirsty for a high school. In fact, the isle doesn’t need a big school, but it just needs three classrooms for 10th, 11th and 12th graders. At present, 60 high school students now have to stay in Quy Nhon to study at the schools there.

The spacious road with no people

Local residents have been told that they would have a big 4-lane road in 2013. However, it seems that the road is too luxurious if compared with the cramped and low-roofed houses of the local people.

The people here wish that the road was one meter narrower. If so, they would have electricity from the national grid. They also wish that the road was 100 meters shorter. If so, they would have enough money to build three classrooms for high school students. And they keep wishing…

Dan Viet

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