Charming old-world fishing villages of central Vietnam

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Fishing boats anchor near the shore in Ninh Thuy ward in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Fishing boats anchor near the shore in Ninh Thuy ward in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

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Ninh Thuy, a ward of fishing villages in central Vietnam, is a place where time has stood still. People still build houses the way they were generations ago, with brick roofs and coral reef walls, and the children still play games from the pre-smart-phone era.
And they are all welcoming, so as a cool glass of sweet apple soup for 20 cents.
The ward, located on a peninsula 40 kilometers north of the resort town of Nha Trang, holds a special spot in the hearts of photographers who love to take nostalgic shots.
A little girl cycles in front of an old house in Ninh Thuy, 40 kilometers north of the resort town of Nha Trang
To some, the most special part of the ward are the gates to its fishing villages.
They do not follow the government-set model of “Civilized village this and that” like in other places in the country.
They are pink or gold gates carrying unique names given by locals, and in the back they read “Thien thoi dia loi nhan hoa,” a popular Vietnamese saying that expresses locals' wish for harmony with nature and people.
Two boys walk into a village through a gate with a saying reminding everyone to live in harmony in nature and their neighbors.
The seawater here is especially blue though many fishing boats operate and a lot of washing is done here every day.
Two boys swim in the sea.
Locals say thick layers of coral reefs keep the water clean and there is so much coral that it has become a construction material.
In some old houses in the villages, mortar is gone from the walls, exposing the coral.
A piece of coral is exposed in an old wall under mortar that has worn out.
There are many plastic-stool shops around the villages’ alleys that serve noodle soup with fish balls, green bananas grilled with fried onions, coconut juice, sweet soups, and others.
The vendors charge very little and are willing to walk you through a detailed recipe as well.
Local children use the alleys as playgrounds, with groups of them hanging out and singing together.
Or they can be seen throwing slippers at a can at a distance to see who can knock it down, playing hopscotch, rock paper scissors, the ball-and-sticks game that requires players to throw the ball up and do some tricks with the sticks fast enough before catching the falling ball, or "o an quan," a Vietnamese board game that requires calculating skills.
Children play "o an quan," in which they take turns to scatter rocks (or nuts or similar small objects) in a rectangle divided into squares painted on the ground. When one stops at a blank square, they can capture all the pieces to the right of that square. The game ends when all pieces are captured and the winner is the one with the most pieces.

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