Tam Thanh Mural Village
Just outside of Tam Ky, in Quang Nam province, is poor fishing village called Tam Thanh. It’s small. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe 100 houses. There’s one restaurant, a seafood place that’s open at night. The nearest market is in the next village over. Pretty much everyone in the village does something related to fishing, like fixing next, painting boats, re-selling fish. But now Tam Thanh has a new identity: the Tam Thanh Mural Village.
Creating Tam Thanh Mural Village
About two months ago now, the South Korean government collaborated with local artists from all over Vietnam to paint the village with bright colors and different pictures. I got chatting with one of the locals, and she said that the painting took about 20 days. Once it was finished, everyone left, and the residents figured the excitement was over. No one imagined people would want to come see it. The first weekend, when curious tourists came down from Da Nang, everyone was surprised. As she told me, “We didn’t prepare anything” as if they needed to be ready to receive visitors. In the morning this lovely lady runs a coffee shop, but last week she bought a sugar cane press for 10 million VND (about $450 USD). She sells giá bình dân, ‘local price,’ which means 5,000 VND a glass. The economics aren’t great for her, but she’s making money, so she’s happy. Outside of sugar cane juice, the only things to spend money on are parking your motorbike for 3,000 VND or renting a hat to block the sun while you wander up and down the single street.
Getting to Tam Thanh Art Village is a breeze. From Hoi An, find your way to the new Cua Dai Bridge. Once over the bridge, go straight down the new, beautiful, empty road for about an hour till it comes to a T-junction. Tam Ky is on your right, but you want to go left almost till you hit the beach. You’ll see the sign where you double back towards Tam Thanh Mural Village. The murals range from Disney-themed, to portraits of the residents themselves, to the surreal blending of the painting with the environment. A few of my favorites are below:
Will the Tam Thanh Mural Village maintain it’s innocence and charm? I sure hope so. The people are truly countryside, and I mean that in a really good way. They smile and wave when you walk by, even if you don’t by a water. I hope they open a couple restaurants in the town to give people somewhere to hang out and soak in the atmosphere. And while the locals have every right to profit from having something so cool in their village, in a perfect world they’ll find a way to improve the local economy without turning it into another giant gift shop.