The ice trail in Nha Trang

Nha Trang Travel Blog

 › entry 97 of 126 › view all entries
Ice boat under Ngoc Thao bridge

I stopped on a bridge to watch a boat hauling blocks of ice. Water levels were high and a crewman at the bow had to crouch as they glided underneath it. The motor popped and sputtered as the boat emerged from the other side to continue upstream until disappearing around a bend in the river. I continued my own way and spent maybe an hour re-exploring Ngoc Thao island. It was only a fifteen minute ride from the house I stayed. After crossing the bridge, the only other traffic was the occasional motorbike and another bicycle or two.

I searched for new access/viewpoints of the Cai River that I might have missed before. It was Sunday and a church bell rang loud across the coconut groves. Previous trails that I had followed had since grown over with new vegetation.

Boats on the Cai River
Others led to small banana plantations or to secluded homes. But one trail brought me to the river on the north side of the island. It looked more like a deserted campground than the back yard of a private home. It was the kind of place I could easily act lost by tossing my hands into the air and shrugging my shoulders. After all, foreigners are always the dumb ones. But no one stirred so I took a few photos of some beached boats that were different than any I had seen over here. They had steering wheels at the bow and cables running on either side to work the rudder at the stern. I wondered what the design's special purpose would be - maybe convenient for wrestling cumbersome fishing nets. A neighbor's dog barked steadily, and ever closer, from the edge of woods so I cut my tour  short.
Loading the boat
Back at the Ngoc Thao bridge, I sat riverside for an iced coffee. Popping motors approached and two more boats of ice passed by.

The Nha Trang tourist map shows the Hai Dao Bridge leading to that nearby island and lists a tourist park there. But like last year, a security guard turned me back saying the bridge was closed. When I walked to the base of it, I spotted something better though. A hundred yards away, ice blocks were being loaded onto one of the boats like I had seen sputtering upstream. I had stumbled onto an ice factory; the mother lode.

From the main street, gates were open so I rode the bike as far as I dared, parked it near a couple of motorbikes, then slowly walked toward the loading dock. I watched the few workers for any negative response to my presence.

Ice for the boats
The eldest didn't look particularly pleased but didn't shoo me away either so I took the benefit of the doubt and lingered.

I made a bold climb onto the nearest corner of a concrete platform that bordered some kind of swimming pool-size freezer. Thick wooden planks covered its top. Those boards set aside revealed canisters of ice lined in rows thirty or forty deep and there were at least forty or fifty rows. Three rows were being worked to load the boat outside. Two workers heaved the meter-long canisters up onto the floor, one by one, keeping them upright. The older man was refilling empties at another exposed row. He also turned the hose on the fresh canisters to loosen the ice like any other tray. Another worker slipped the new ice onto the floor.

Loading ice from the truck
Sometimes the blocks broke in two. A fifth man heaved them onto a wooden shoot where they slid down to the boat.

I was content with the day's discoveries so decided to take a roundabout way home. At the base of the Xom Bong Bridge, I made a quick u-turn after spotting a truck delivering ice blocks to another boat. A long chute of angle-iron slid the ice from the truck right down to the waiting boat. When I got back on the bridge for a better photo angle, none other than my boat from the ice factory passed below me. I recognized the crew. One was the guy loading blocks onto the chute at the loading dock and the other was the boat driver who positioned all the blocks onto his boat. I patiently watched and waited until they tied alongside a fishing boat and began off-loading the new ice. Following the ice trail onto the South China Sea would round out the day's adventure nicely but I settled for an iced coffee closer to home.

rotorhead85 says:
Thanks Sylvia, really nice to know someone is reading these!
Posted on: Nov 30, 2010
sylviandavid says:
wow..... what a great read.... Thanks so much for writing this,..... sylvia
Posted on: Oct 26, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Ice boat under Ngoc Thao bridge
Ice boat under Ngoc Thao bridge
Boats on the Cai River
Boats on the Cai River
Loading the boat
Loading the boat
Ice for the boats
Ice for the boats
Loading ice from the truck
Loading ice from the truck
Boat with a steering wheel
Boat with a steering wheel
Steering wheel
Steering wheel
Barking dog
Barking dog
Boats on the Cai
Boats on the Cai
Riverside at the bridge
Riverside at the bridge
Row of ice canisters
Row of ice canisters
Fresh ice
Fresh ice
Ice block
Ice block
Refilling
Refilling
Diesel waterpump
Diesel waterpump
Onto the chute
Onto the chute
Ice truck
Ice truck
Loading ice
Loading ice
The boat from the ice factory
The boat from the ice factory
Tied to a fishing boat
Tied to a fishing boat
Taking on fresh ice
Taking on fresh ice
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85