Life Life

06/07/2018 - 07:56

Special work trip on island

The image of a navy soldier appears in my mind when my phone occasionally rings. The conversation is mixed with the sound of waves. The remote island seems to be very close.

The delegation of reporters and delegates is taking the boat for the island

Writing on the kitchen table

In the beginning of 2018, the boat number 632 of Flotilla 511, Brigade 127, the Navy High Command 5 took a delegation of over 130 reporters of many press agencies all over the nation, the representatives from Eastern and Southwestern provinces as well as the officials, navy officials of the Regional Command 5 and the crew (leaded by Colonel Nguyen Dang Tien, Deputy Commander of the Navy High Command 5) to carry out the 7 day operation on the ocean to visit the people and navy soldiers who are on the duty of island protection on 5 remote islands in Southwestern island routes .

The room of the sailors with 6 bunks was yielded to 20 female reporters and delegates. Lacking of space, we had to sleep on the boat floor. To move from this island to another, the boat had to travel overnight.

After coming back to the boat from Hon Chuoi island, in that evening, I got an order from the editorial office that I just had one day to write an article for the edition celebrating the Communist Party of Viet Nam Foundation Anniversary (March 2)

It became windy, the waves were getting stronger and the boat shook sharply. After the dinner, the women came back to the bedroom and tried to sleep for not feeling seasick. At that time, I just could take my laptop to the kitchen, which is more balanced than the bunk which was swaying continuously. The young sailors quickly cleaned up the kitchen wares to a side and left a space for my laptop.

Nearly 2 hours passed, the computer screen was still empty without any word because of the feeling like vomiting of the seasick I got.  It was whirling in my stomach and crawling to the throat. On the other side of the table, Lieutenant Nguyen Van Tuan, Deputy Captain 1 and Lieutenant Nguyen Van Dang, Deputy Captain 2 were personally helping sailors to prepare food and telling stories about sailors’ mission trips.

On this kitchen table, their food was just something put right in the pot when there was a strong storm. Sometimes in the severe ones, the boat swayed and tilted, the food was pushed down onto the floor. However, the sailors still tried to ensure their health to together make the boat overcome the storms; completing the mission of guarding the sea.

The sailor of the boat 632 prepares breakfast for the delegation

During the operation, those fearless sailors themselves cared for each meal and sleep of the reporters and representatives. There always had a bow of spicy fish sauce in every meal for people coming from Hue and Quang Binh. If any women felt tired, they would be served a hot porridge immediately. If there were anyone who ate less or were hard to fall asleep at night, the sailors would cook a bowl of instant noodle and beg them for more stuff.

Everyday, when we get on the island, the sailors stayed in the boat and struggled with many meticulous work to serve over 130 people. Every night, when everybody fell into a sound sleep, the sailors still took turns to guard to make the boat move forward.

The emotions were welling up and made me forget the seasick. From the kitchen on swaying boat by powerful waves, I stayed up all night writing about the fearless but affectionate sailors.

The sea and islands are so close

From now on, if someone asks me about the beautiful landscapes of Nam Du Island, I will answer without hesitation that the most beautiful “landscape” would be the sentiments of the sailors who protect the islands and the sea by a deep love. They are very simple, rustic and extremely hospitable.

I asked “the motorbike taxi driver” for a stroll around the island. Mr. Dung elatedly took me to each sight, introduced each in detail with all his heart, and told about the origin of each road with pride and chumminess

Knowing that I came from Hue, Dung said he naturally felt very close because he used to come to Hue for his university entrance exam. Despite of a short time in Hue, he fell in love with this place and kept the image of Truong Tien Bridge in mind. Sitting together in a coffee shop near the slope to contemplate the sea, Dung told that he was a geography teacher at An Son secondary school on the island.

Although his hometown is Thanh Hoa, Dung has identified himself with Nam Du Island for 15 years since there were not any roads and people had to roll up their pants walking in the muddy mud. With the scanty salary, he had to be a ‘motorbike taxi’ driver at weekend to earn more money for his family.

Dung’s school was twinned with radar station on the island, so the teachers and navy soldiers regarded themselves as family members. In case inhabitants were seriously sick, Dung and the navy soldiers hastily hired a boat and took the patients on land to timely give first aid in a hurry.

Because of the duty of motherland protection, the navy soldiers have to leave their homes to come here. The rustic fishermen stick to the sea and islands because of their love for the nation.

To me, the sentiments of the sailor and the people who try to protect the sea and islands are always in my mind.

Story, photos: Quynh Anh