Mix and Match

By Jeffrey Tiberi, 12th June 2015

We met with Mr. James Lo, the General Manager of the Cat Ba Island Resort, concerning many issues (see attached picture). Viet brought two young employees with him. One is interested in being a tour guide and the other interested in finance. Mr. Lo has a world of experience in the hotel industry, and I watched the young people turn into sponges. My world is mostly culture and nature, and I have much to learn about the hotel industry. Mr. Lo is well read and versed in many subjects. We listened to him discuss a number of issues that he currently faces, including providing certain local fish for his customers, changing wave patterns on the beaches he manages, his marketing strategies, long term visions, competition he faces, new roads being built, the potential of direct flights from the USA west coast, and national trends. His views made me think of how all of us rely on each other to survive, and how what we do impacts our neighbors.

Cat Ba Island is a magical place full of charm and character. Our boat worked its way through just a few of the 1,700+ islands in this archipelago, and rounded a corner to a view that was quite astounding. How did they fit this small and modern city in this remote and protected harbor? The streets are lined with poinciana trees, the "official" flower of the island. The trees are somewhat stunted due to the salt air, something I did not see with poinciana trees in Bermuda during my decade of life there. The trees are in full bloom, and I learned that this tree symbols the start of the summer to the Vietnamese people. The flowers on the trees are striking and create a feeling of joy and brightness as one walks under them.

We toured the island via motor cycle and saw a small part of the national park. There is a massive commercial aquaculture operation on one of the bays. The islands provide many opportunities for small family operated aquaculture. We visited one family for tea and saw individual fish cages and several species, including clams, fish, squid, and crabs. The floating fishing village was a sight to see, and once again drove home to me the need for everlasting cooperation between humans and nature. The fish farmers recognize the long term value in cooperation with nature. They raise a variety of species and have to know and understand life cycles, diseases, and other potential trouble spots in order to stay in business.

That’s all for now.

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