The Crusoe of the matter: family prefers life on isolated island

By Quynh Tran   April 1, 2019 | 08:46 pm GMT+7

For 30 years a family has been living by itself on an island in the middle of a lake in southern Dong Nai Province.

Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

Nam Bau Island in the middle of Tri An Lake was formed after a hydropower plant was built on the Dong Nai River in 1984.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

This four-hectare-island is the home of Nguyen Van Long, 62. Only his family lives on island.

He says: "In the 1980s my wife and I decided to leave our hometown and move here to start a new life. We earned a living by sawing down trees in the beginning, then switched to growing corn, beans and rice."

"The place turned into an island when Tri An Lake was created."Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

Long recalls it was a challenging time in the early days.

"As our fields became a lake, I started to grow corn, sugarcane and other crops on the island. But the yield was not great."

Despite living in isolation and without electricity, he prefers remaining there since "life will be even tougher if I move to another place without money to buy land."

He explains that people began to call it Nam Bau Island because his wife's nickname was Nam and she was pregnant at the time. The name helped distinguish it from other islands in the lake.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

The family then turned to growing cashew since it suited the island's soil.

"Since it is the season, I have been busy picking the fruits, removing the seeds and drying them every day for the past three months," Tran Thi Thanh Nga, 57, Long's wife, says.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

The family grows around three tons of cashew annually, its main source of income. It also grows mango and earleaf acacia for timber and to prevent landslides and erosion.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

The island is around five kilometers from shore and can only be reached by boat.

Nga says: "In the past I used a rowboat and it would take me more than half an hour. But recently I bought a motorboat to make it easier to transport agricultural products for selling as well as bring necessary items."Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

They have two daughters and a son, all of whom are married. The son and his wife now live in a rented house on shore near the island.

Nga says: "Hieu, my four-year-old grandson, was born on the island and does not want to leave here. So every morning I take him by boat to the kindergarten and go to the market."

Despite living on the island for more than 30 years, Nga still cannot swim. But she can row the boat well and use the motorboat in rainy or windy weather.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

In his free time Long spends the whole night fishing. There are not many fish to catch during the dry season, but things are different during the rainy season when he has good catches and sells them in the market to earn some extra money.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

Long and his grandson swim in the lake every evening. Since the water is clean, the family uses it for both daily requirements and irrigation.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

The family also raises chicken.

Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

At noon and in the evening, the family gathers in the wooden house to watch television or sort cashew nuts. The electricity comes from solar panels on the roof.Gia đình hơn 30 năm sống biệt lập trên đảo giữa hồ Trị An

Long says: "I stay on the island all year round and return to my hometown during Tet (Lunar New Year holiday). I am used to and enjoy living here since it has fresh air and is away from the bustle. Our children are grown up and have their own lives, so I want to stay on this island forever."

 
 
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