Profession… running after Tet: ‘Taking’ sand to make money

Coastal white sand is very popular to pour into incense burners, and refresh the altar on the Tet holiday. Many Quang Binh people have been diving into the sand dunes to search and dig for hours…

Job without capital

At first glance, I thought digging white sand for sale was an easy job. But no, have to go far, carry heavy loads, and hang out and not everyone can find clean, pure white sand. Because the sand to look for is the white sand that lies deep under the soil and the yellow sand layer. It is not exposed, so in addition to shovels, diggers need experience to “catch pulse” where there is white sand. Currently, in Quang Ninh district (Quang Binh), there are many people who choose to dig sand to make a living during Tet.

Job... running after Tet: 'Pouring' sand for money - photo 1
Mr. Chau “harves” about 7 kg of white sand

I met Mr. Le Van Chau (70 years old, residing in Vo Ninh commune, Quang Ninh province) at Dinh Muoi market on a day near the Lunar New Year 2023. I just heard that he was preparing to dig white sand, so I asked to come along. and he agreed. Stopping the motorbike on the asphalt road, he led me along the path into the middle of the casuarina forest, on the immense sand hill.

Job... running after Tet: 'Pouring' sand for money - photo 2

“In the middle of a wide stretch of sand like this, you don’t just have to dig to find white sand. If you just dig with luck, the efficiency is not high, sometimes you go home empty-handed, “Mr. Chau said. With his own experience, Mr. Chau chooses areas where people have come to dig. Initially, he dug the sand pits of the person who had taken it before, but only 2-3 scoops, the white sand was all gone, revealing the yellow soil. He gently scooped out the yellow sand, created a certain width so that the white sand would not be mixed with the yellow sand, and then picked up each encrusted bag and put it in a bag. “When digging and seeing white sand, you should not rush to shovel it but slowly, otherwise it will be covered by the sand above, you have to dig from the beginning,” he laughed.

For me, the white sand is like the package of cakes and candy for Tet. If I have it, I hope people have a little bit. Working together, earning food on Tet holiday, supporting each other a little is common.

Mr. Le Van Chau (70 years old, residing in Vo Ninh commune, Quang Ninh district, Quang Binh province)

While Mr. Chau was working hard to collect sand, a couple had just arrived. They were lucky that day because Mr. Chau was willing to share the “sand mine” he had just found. Ms. Nguyen Thi Xuan (54 years old), who has just arrived, said that she and her husband had traveled dozens of kilometers from Tan Ninh (Quang Ninh district) to find sand. Without Mr. Chau’s generosity, it would have taken them a long time to track down the sand. “For me, the white sand is like a package of cakes and candy for Tet. If I have it, I hope people have a little bit. Sand between heaven and earth, it’s not someone’s own to hide. Working together, earning food on Tet holiday, supporting each other a little is common,” said Mr. Chau.

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Mr. Chau had to dig a few times to find a place with white sand

Turn sand into… money

In order to have a little more money to take care of the upcoming New Year, many people like Mr. Chau and Mrs. Xuan don’t mind traveling to find white sand deep underground. “Almost every year, after the full moon of December, when the farm work is over, my wife and I go to dig sand with shovels and sacks. Every time I go try to get 10-20 kg to bring back. The part is used to change the incense burner in the house, the rest is given to relatives or brought to the market to sell,” said Xuan.

Job... running after Tet: 'Pouring' sand for money - photo 4
White sand is not easy to get, but it takes a lot of time and effort

After about an hour of back and forth, digging and filling 2 sacks of white sand, Mrs. Xuan and her husband carefully wrapped them up and carried them to the car. As for Mr. Chau, because he went alone, he only took about 7 kg. They carefully filled the dug holes before leaving. Carrying the sandbag back, he smiled because he knew he had earned some copper. Up ahead, in the casuarina forest, she could hear the voice of Mrs. Xuan happily saying to her husband: “We’ve already earned more than a hundred silver coins, haven’t we?”

Job... running after Tet: 'Pouring' sand for money - photo 5
To get the white sand, you must be skillful and meticulous in each movement

But for this white sand to “turn” into money, there are still a few more stages to go through. When they get home, they have to pick up dirty garbage, sieve it a few times, dry it in 4-5 sunlight if the weather is favorable or dry it on fire if it’s not sunny. “Because of so much work, there is a job of “digging white sand”, otherwise people would have gone to dig for sand and use it,” explained Ms. Xuan.

The price of white sand on Tet holiday ranges from 5,000 – 10,000 VND/kg depending on the quality. Pure white or slightly dark sand, dry or wet sand… will have different prices. Selling at that price, can’t make up for the effort of searching, digging, and drying for days. But many people still often go to get sand, because even if it is cheap, they can still accumulate small and big cities, the more they get, the more full the Tet holiday will be.($1=24,000 VND)

Job... running after Tet: 'Pumping' sand for money - photo 6
People in Vo Ninh commune (Quang Ninh district, Quang Binh province) sieve sand and dry it in time to sell during Tet

These days, walking among the villages of Vo Ninh commune (Quang Ninh district, Quang Binh province ), everywhere you can see people working hard at sieving or spreading canvas to dry white sand. They want nothing at this time but pray for the sun and the sun so that the sand can dry quickly. They are also racing against time, whether a Tet is full or not depends on small grains of sand. Only a few more days, Vo Ninh white sand will be purchased by traders and brought to all spring markets, from Dong Hoi city to other rural areas in the province to serve the needs of replacing sand for incense burners above. ancestral altar. (to be continued)

Photo: Internet (