The whole-hearted behavior – a distinguishing character of Ca Mau’s tourism culture

I remember when I was young, my grandfather and I went back our homeland. After a long trip with interest small werry, my grandfather and I would walk more three kilometers to reach our home. At that time, there was no roadside shops as we can see today, every time I feel thirsty, my grandfather and I just visited a certain house to ask for rainwater to drink to ease the thirst. The rainwater was not like sugar cane juice, cold Pandan juice or aloe vera juice as they are today, but it contains many feelings. I remembered the enthusiasm of countrymen, the joy to let traveler use their hammock, the sincerity to welcome travelers with any food they found in their house, etc. all that made the rainwater of that day remain fresh and cool until now.

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That’s the people of Ca Mau; they love each other by their whole-hearted behavior. From the land reclamation, Ca Mau’s people attached to each other, hand in hand against the “sacred forest and poisonous water”. The elements of harsh nature on the new land formed and trained Ca Mau’s people who are hard-working, harmonious with each other.  It said, “a stranger nearby is better than a far-away relative”. The communities of Ca Mau prove that idea really clearly. They always care for and help each other in difficult times and share the joys and sorrows in life. Hungry people can borrow some rice to eat until they get the new harvest. In the production of Ca Mau people, people often do “the teamwork” that share and exchange works together. In the events of house construction, parties, farming, gardening, ditch bailing, etc. people often do help other, no one has to spend money on outsourcing workers but increase the good sense of neighborhood.

Ca Mau’s people are hard-working, not afraid of hardships in production. Although they meet the rain, the lightning flash, the hot sunshine, the harshness of the Nature, stalking wild animals, etc. they still persist in reclaiming the land and create the results of labor achievements for their future generations. When the work is complete, it will be time for them to enjoy daily pleasures in idle moments. They can sit sipping a glass of rice wine, humming some old favorite songs. Or if they meet their precious guests, they can play all the time, they bring any good food in the house to welcome guests without hesitation. The foods may be ducks running in the garden or fish, turtles, snakes, eels, etc. which were caught in the field, all are exposed to the trays for all. I have a few acquaintances who act the same. Each time guests from other distant provinces to Ca Mau, they will arrange how to treat, what to eat, where to sleep, etc. with exactly the same enthusiastic. Or a person who is busy a lot, is still willing to spend their valuable time on the guests, though later they would stay up late, wake up early many days later to complete their incomplete work. Such expressions are not self-deprecating, show-off, or wealthy-proud, etc. but they are sincere and natural emotions which are formed in the nature of Ca Mau’s people from past to present.

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As the saying “For guests, either chicken or duck to be served”, Ca Mau’s people “hook out of their inward” to treat their guests amicably. Not only that, when the party is over, they also give “home-made” gifts to friends to bring back to guest’s relatives. Today, every Ca Mau’s people treats the same, if they travel far away, often bring along with special gifts such as U Minh honey, dried fish, dried shrimp, melon, etc as a little home-flavor that also express the sincerity of the gift sender.

Not only show the human love for humans, Ca Mau’s people also express their love for nature where they live. They are not only dependent on the nature, but also always know how to preserve and protect the lives around them. On a trip to U Minh Ha, I met Mr. Dien (from the ecotourism destination of Muoi Ngot)  who shared sincerely, “I want to plant lotus to attract bees to build the nest, but I’m afraid that the rapid development of lotus forest overwhelms the ecosystem of Melaleuca forests”. Just his decision of what to plant is enough to make him overthink how to balance the natural beauty of the forest. “We want to catch fish, but we avoid the fish in the birth season with eggs, to not eat the fish preparing to produce a herd of fish”. We always meet some where in Ca Mau some people who live in love with the nature and gratitude for the vegetables that feed them.

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Besides the virtues of diligence, whole-hearted, Ca Mau’s people are very brave, they do not know the fear. There are some people in the late night can stand alone on a canoe nearly ten kilometers to reach the morning market; They can go to the forest to catch crocodiles, tigers which harm many humans; They are ready to fight the evil forces to save the equal rights of people who have no voice in a matter. Today, we always meet people like Uncle Ba Phi, Vo Tong (in the novel “Dat Phuong Nam” (the Southern land), Teacher Phan Ngoc Hien, Ms. Ho Thi Ky, Mr. Ly Van Lam, Ms. Duong Thi Cam Van and so on who appeared in the lives of Ca Mau’s people, creating a motivation for Ca Mau’s people constantly strive for development.

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It can be said, the whole-hearted behavior of Ca Mau’s people formed their own identity in tourism culture. Travelers to Ca Mau, not only enjoy the natural scenery and taste abundant food sources but also feel the warm-welcoming ambient that the people of the Cape. So it is no coincidence that Musician Thanh Son (Soc Trang province) praised the Ca Mau’s people in the song “Ao Moi Ca Mau” (a new shirt of Ca Mau) through the sentence of love “Ca Mau’s people are extremely outgoing”. The used term is not only “outgoing” but “extremely outgoing”. The personality of outgoing and whole-hearted behavior of Ca Mau’s people now as a brand which contributed to affirm that Ca Mau is not only a rustic area, but also a very hospitable land.

Photo and article: Duong Kim Chuyen

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