Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam

While everyone avoids the burning summer heat, local villagers in Tan An, the central province of Quang Binh go out under the sun to make the best batch of rice paper. Rice paper making has been the main livelihood of many locals for over a century. 
July 19, 2020 | 16:28
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There are around 260 local households in the area produce rice paper
There are around 260 local households in the area produce rice paper (Photo: VNE)

Under the 40 degree Celsius heat, rice paper makers in Tan An village are at their most productive. There are around 260 local households in the area produce rice paper for a living, consuming a total of 300 tonnes of rice each year.

Ma Thi Bau making rice papers
Ma Thi Bau making rice papers (Photo: VNE)

Ma Thi Bau, 57, who only produces black sesame rice papers, starts her working day at 7 am. She makes around 300 rice papers per day. “Sitting beside the fire all day for years has somehow affected my health. It’s way more a daunting job than working outside”, Bua told VNE.

Nguyen The Phuong help his wife, Bau, to soak the rice in water
Nguyen The Phuong help his wife, Bau, to soak the rice in water (Photo: VNE)

Nguyen The Phuong, 60, helps his wife Bau soak the rice in water before grinding it into flour. The job, which is usually reserved for women, cuts out for a retired man like him.

Tan An locals have been applying mechanical technology to facilitate their work for 10 years
Tan An locals have been applying mechanical technology to facilitate their work for 10 years (Photo: VNE)

Tan An locals have been applying mechanical technology to facilitate their work for 10 years now, which used to be carried out manually.

Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam
(Photo: VNE)

Nguyen Hong Chuyen, 55, owner of a mechanical production facility, said she has to wake up bright and early every day to grind and steam rice early in the morning, lest show would get “burned” under the scorching sunlight at noon.

"At 11-12 p.m., I take a break because it is too hot”, she said.

Rice papers are placed into stacks of 20 pieces and cut into squares.
Rice papers are placed into stacks of 20 pieces and cut into squares. (Photo: VNE)

Rice papers are placed into stacks of 20 pieces and cut into squares.

People can only produce rice paper between February to October. Amid the absence of sunshine, especially during the rainy season, the job grinds to a halt.

Tan An village at the moment spawns jobs for over 80 locals
Tan An village at the moment spawns jobs for over 80 locals (Photo: VNE)

“It’s very hot outdoor, but it’s nothing compared with the temperature in the furnace. Though we are uncomfortable, we have to try our best," Chuyen said, referring to the hottest days in central Vietnam.

Tan An village at the moment spawns jobs for over 80 locals, each earns around VND 100,000 – 200,000 (US $4.31 – 8.5) per day.

Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam
(Photo: VNE)

Rice paper, including black sesame, yellow sesame and that for making spring rolls, is dried in the sun.

Black sesame rice papers can only let dried under the sun for three hours, lest they would bend and crumble. Therefore, villagers have to keep a close eye.

Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam

A smiley villager takes a short break while waiting for her rice paper to dry.

(Photo: VNE)
Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam
(Photo: VNE)

Before noon, dried rice papers are gathered and packed. With the help of mechanization, the facility could produce 35 tonnes of rice paper every year.

Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam
(Photo: VNE)

Removing rice papers from the racks is a delicate procedure.

Rice paper making under burning sun in Central Vietnam
(Photo: VNE)

The final step involves counting the number of rice papers for packaging. Bags of rice papers will then be distributed to localities like Hanoi, Hue, and Da Nang.

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