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Fable of the ferry-folks

    Fable of the Ferry-folks   

I’m Alice Driver. My husband Isaac Bingham won a Watson Fellowship to fund a yearlong project titled Savants of the Sea: Boat Building on Two Sides of the Pacific, which began in Vietnam in late July 2006. I also joined him on this project.

Here are a few important aspects, which one should be aware of, to know the life of the coastal people and their lifeline: Boats.

-Alice Driver


    Trawling away: Vietnam   

Coracle is a round, lightweight boat. Local fisherfolk use small Coracles to fish along the coast to provide food for their families.

It takes around 15 days to build a Coracle, which lasts for five to seven years. But, huge trawlers have depleted the fish supply.

These local fisherfolk often return from a morning of fishing with no catch (fish) at all.

One morning, I went out fishing from 4am till 6am with a fisherman Anh Taht, and returned with only three small fish!


    Reed life: Peru   

Reed boats are floating islands made of reeds. They are made almost exclusively to attract tourists, who provide the main source of income for the inhabitants of the islands.

Fisherfolk use wooden rowboats for fishing, and make larger reed boats to ferry tourists among the islands.


    Messing up: Malaysia   

We lived for a month with a Bajau family on Bumbun Island in the Sabah province of Malaysia. Lepa boats are central to their lives. But, the whole village is in a real mess.

The residents throw anything and everything into the sea, as there is no method of trash collection. At high tide flip-flops, plastic bottles, shoes, wrappers, t-shirts, and faeces float in the village. And the villagers catch their food from this same water! No one seems to bother, and there is no awareness at all.



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Fable of the ferry-folks