From our boat, we slowly moved towards the Cong Dam floating village. We had several row boats; each boat had two passengers and was driven by a local lady from the village. We moved slowly and in a close cluster so we could hear our guide Smiley occasionally told us about something to note.
As we get closer to the village, Smiley told us to wear the hat given by our boat rower. I wasn’t sure the reason why, if it was part of protocol or simply just to help protect us from getting wet as it started drizzling, but we went ahead and followed the direction.
As we rode our boats slowly through the village and observed the life that’s going on in the village, I couldn’t help not to compare what I saw here to what we saw in the Chong Kneas floating village on Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia few days before.
The two floating villages were roughly the same size; Cong Dam might’ve been a little smaller than Chong Kneas. People in both villages lived from fishing, Chong Kneas lived off fresh water fish from the largest lake in Southeast Asia, while Cong Dam had salt water fish from Ha Long Bay. Both started to benefit more from tourism, with Cong Dam having the advantage of being in a very beautiful natural setting of Ha Long Bay. Another big difference was that the people in Ha Long Bay have been there for a long time, while those in Chong Kneas were essentially illegal immigrants from Vietnam who have to compete with the locals.
In either case, I wonder what they think of the tourists who come and visit their village. I would compare that to a situation if somehow the neighborhood where I’ve lived for a long time suddenly becoming a tourist attraction. For some, it might be annoying, while others might welcome that for its potential economic benefits.
I took the photo below as we’re about to approach the village. You can see our boats and the village just in front of us.