I’ll make a disclaimer up front: I don’t have too much to say about today’s location, and sadly we don’t have many pictures either. In large part, this is because unlike most destinations, we stayed there only one night. Sa Huỳnh is considered even by locals to be a nothing town. The main industry is salt production, and apart from the drying pools and waterside, there’s not much to see. The town does now play host to a small resort, though since we didn’t stay there, I couldn’t tell you anything about it.
We chose to spend a night in Sa Huỳnh because Trang’s college friend lives there. It turned out great for us because she and her husband took us out for a fantastic seafood dinner (and grilled us some equally great seafood the next morning). They were wonderful hosts to these silly nomads.
The town does have its charm when you get off the highway. It’s a natural shallow-water harbor, where you’ll see fishing boats pulling in and out. Sadly, both the harbor and the streets are quite messy – Sa Huỳnh is victim to Vietnam’s plastic pollution curse. Nevertheless, during the salt harvest season the town gets a few tourists looking for photo opportunities. The process, evidently, is to fill the many expansive shallow pools every three to four days and allow the water to evaporate. That cycle gets repeated for six or seven months before there is enough to harvest. Only then will you see the iconic ivory mounds dotting wide fields. During our time, though, the salt fields were full of water. They did not sparkle white, but were still rather picturesque.
Though the Sa Huỳnh population is small, the area is one of Vietnam’s largest salt producers. During harvest, the workers toil under the scorching sun. Its radiation may be critical for their industry, but I can’t imagine working regularly under such conditions. I encourage you to pause a moment the next time you season your soup and consider the hard work that went into that flavoring.
Our hosts, in contrast, run a mechanic business. Their house and shop (like much of the town) are on Highway 1A, the country’s main artery from north to south. Even though they had worked in Saigon for several years (a place known for generally higher wages), they actually make a better living now in Sa Huỳnh thanks to the constant flow of business and lower cost of living. Plus, it means their young son can grow up with in the family home along with a doting grandmother.
We, however, don’t let anyone dote on us for long, so we’re back on the road. We’ll see you soon in the historic village of Hội An!