The project: Conservation Café!

On the menu: a message about the uniqueness of Vietnam’s rich biodiversity

In any other town, Hai's Scout Café, with its pagoda-like proscenium portal, high ceilings and woven bamboo wall panelling would stand out as a distinctive example of Chinese-French colonial architecture. But not necessarily in Hoi An, a 16th century trading port in central Vietnam designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations.
Here, the 100 year old former headquarters of the Boy Scouts is just one of scores of historical buildings, which have been preserved for their lacquer doors, elaborately carved facades and moss covered tile roofs.

Hoi An is internationally famous for its huge success at conserving its diverse cultural influences. What distinguishes the Scout Café is its contribution, not only to the conservation of culture, but to the conservation of Vietnam's equally diverse natural inheritance.

Showcasing the unique biodiversity of the Annamites
Mounted on the high walls of the café's shaded courtyard and the cool inner rooms are photographs of many of the rare plants and animals that contribute to the province's wealth of biodiversity.

These include pictures of the exquisite orchids that grow in the moist rainforests located less than two hours from the town and posters of the brightly coloured red and grey-shanked doucs, possibly the prettiest of primates, which reside nowhere else in the world but in the forests of the nearby Trung Son (Annamite) mountains.

There are posters of another unique and highly endangered primate, the hatinh langur, found farther north, whose cute countenance resembles Yoda, the ancient and revered Jedi Master from Star Wars. Pamphlets warning of the dangers of unsustainable logging, and the illegal wildlife trade, which threaten Vietnam’s immeasurable natural wealth, are free for the taking.

Food & words of caution
The "conservation café" is a partnership between Hai's New Century Tourist Company, WWF and the Spanish embassy. The owner, Mr Hai, opened the café three-and-a-half years ago, stocking the shelves with fine French, Italian and Australian wines to cater to the tastes of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to Hoi An each year.

But as well as western food, the café's menu also contains a message about the uniqueness of Vietnam's rich biodiversity and cautions tourists about buying souvenirs made from wildlife or items of wood logged illegally from the rainforest.

Mr Hai in front of the Conservation café . / ©: WWF-Canon
Mr Hai in front of the Conservation café .
© WWF-Canon

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