If you are headed south from Phan Rang Thap Cham on Highway 1A, perhaps to visit Po Ro Me Cham Tower or if you are on the move to Mui Ne, there are two craft villages that are an easy stop along the way. We recommend stopping at the Bau Truc Cham pottery village, while we’d give the “weaving village” My Nghiep a skip unless you want souvenirs.
From Phan Rang Thap Cham, head south on Highway 1A. Once you cross the river, it’s 7.5 kilometres to reach the turn off into Bau Truc village. On your righthand side (west), look for an archway heralding “Lang Nghe Gom Bau Truc” – turn here and enter, heading straight until you reach Dong Dau Street. Turn left.
Dong Dau Street is lined with a few shops selling pottery, as well as a sleepy official showroom/shop near the end. The tourist scene here seems as dried up as a piece of clay in the sun, but we enjoyed watching an old woman make pots at the very first shop when you turn onto Dong Dau. The pottery methods are very rudimentary. They don’t even use a kick wheel (a pottery wheel powered by a foot pedal). To our amusement, she skillfully formed the pot by circling around and around the pedestal.
Each shop is a little different, so pop into a few to see what’s happening. Shops have sculptures with traditional Cham designs, practical cooking ware (such as those fabulous clay pots for Vietnamese dishes), as well as more cute, commercial knick-knacks. The potters are perfectly happy to entertain visitors and don’t mind photographs as they work. If you see a billow of smoke coming from behind one of the shops, go and investigate. The pots are fired by piling white wood and rice straw around them and setting it ablaze – it smoulders for five hours before the clay is set.
Less interesting is My Nghiep, on the other side of Highway 1A. From the entrance to Bau Truc, continue south on Highway 1A for 190 metres and turn left (east). Yes, there’s an archway: “Lang Det Tho Cam Cham My Nghiep”. Continue on this road, which leads into the village. We only found one place open to visit, a big tourist show room that was bereft of life. One woman did wake up and do a demonstration for us on the loom, but most of the dusty items for sale were machine woven or factory made. Still, if you’re addicted to souvenirs, you can probably find a gift or two.
Both villages are on the way to Po Ro Me Cham Tower, so you can combine them all for a half day trip. From the mouth of Bau Truc village, continue south on Highway 1A for 700 metres to get to the turn off to the tower (which is the junction between Highway 1A and TL 703).
By Cindy Fan
Last updated on 29th April, 2016.