Hoi An offers unique farming experience (Photo: DOAN NGUYEN)
NDO – Nearly 10 years ago, the buffalo appeared in the fields of Hoi An for tourists to rent and ride, creating a strange freshness among the village fields.
Taking a walk around the village fields in Hoi An (Quang Nam province), it is not difficult to see tourists riding buffalo. When it comes to the list of activities cyclist visitors walking in the village fields can enjoy, this was the final step allowing tourists to experience the real life of Vietnamese farmers, says tour guide Mai Van Chuyen.
The gentle buffalo are tamed. Tourists riding buffalo are usually between 10 and 50 years old. In any group of visitors not everyone has the courage to ride a buffalo. Most of them watch, take pictures or clap their hands for the buffalo rider.
According to Tran Dang Khoa – the Managing Director & Owner of Jack Tran Tours Co,.Ltd (Formerly known as HOI AN ECO-TOUR) , the first company to launch a buffalo riding tour in the fields of Cam Chau ward, Cam Ha (Hoi An), their original idea aimed to offer diversified tourism products with the dual goal of improving farmers’ incomes.
The farmers choose purebred buffalo, trained well alongside humans, so that it will not be scared and run upon seeing tourists. Besides, the buffalo must get used to voice commands, such as “lie down”, “stand up”, “stop” and “go”. Each location is only allowed have one buffalo in order to avoid a situation of them meeting another, creating a situation of conflict and making tourists panic. Owners who buy buffalo to raise for tourism are also very careful when looking at their appearance, hoping to avoid conflict.
In the world of cattle, the buffalo does not mind muddy fields, deep ponds or cold water. For many generations, buffaloes have helped people pull plows and carts and carry heavy goods.
Accompanied by the farmer, the buffalo patiently follows the owner’s guidance with the motto “you live as well as I live”. The buffalo’s eyes look at the path, his ears wag, his tail twists with pride. The buffalo stands for the visitors’ pictures and to greet the world.
Boomkamp, from Canada, said: “I have been to Africa and many tropical countries and have seen many buffalo. But the buffalo here in Hoi An are good friends of the guests. I was born in 1961, people here tell me my year is that of the Buffalo. My Facebook also now has a picture of a buffalo in Hoi An! “.
When he arrived in Hoi An, Vietnam, he knew he was born in the year of buffalo. Boomkamp happily said: “Some days when I walk in the village, I see white storks on the buffalo’s back. Nature doesn’t have to pay each other, but they do have stories together. The bird flew tiredly, swooping down on the buffalo’s back. The buffalo closed its eyes, the bird preened its wings or looked for food on the buffalo’s back. There is a friendship between them”.
Last year, due to the absence of tourists, the buffalos did not welcome tourists but returned to the rhythm of life: in the morning, eating grass, and staying in at night.
But sadder still than the buffalo is their owner. Dang Thanh The, living in An My area (Cam Chau ward, Hoi An), shared that when the buffalo was involved in tourism, he took better care of it. He often fed the buffalo in the morning, occasionally sprayed anti-lice sprays to help avoid itching and discomfort, also meaning they don’t shake their heads and scare the guests. But now, the buffalo are not cared for like that anymore. Thus, the buffalo idled over the past year, and in fact were in many ways neglected.
In the lunar new year – the year of the ox, both buffalo and people hope for new beginnings better times.