Doing the delta
12.11.2010 - 12.11.2010 31 °C
The Mekong Delta is Vietnam's treasure, at least as far as agriculture is concerned. So fertile, it produces three crops of rice per year - one more than in other parts of the country. This would be one of the reasons that the area is in (passive, I believe) dispute between Vietnam and Cambodia. The area described as the delta sits below Cambodia, is partially populated by Khmer people and obviously there is a lot of history there. Make up your own mind.
A daytrip to the delta - primarily to Cai Be floating market - showed me the Vietnam I'd always imagined. Rice fields as far as the eye can see, interspersed with every other imaginable agricultural pursuit suited to this type of climate. Banana trees, coconut palms, the odd mango; even at least one pineapple plantation that I noticed. I guess it all has to come from somewhere. A surprising number of cows, and duck-rearing in pens built on the edges of the new freeway (is it called the verge?). Keeping it all looking postcard-romantic, frequent glimpses of farmers tending to the crops on their haunches, sheltered from the sun by their conical hats.
In Cai Be, the floating market is a fascinating variation on the traditional village market. Vendors advertise their wares by tying samples to a tall pole on the front of the boat; longan, cassava, watermelon, banana, sugarcane, and if it's a mixed business you can probably guess that the pole becomes quite decorative. The boats are generally both commercial and residential premises, so while there are no customers the vendors go about their daily household routines.
One day was really not long enough to do more than scratch the surface. The delta deserves at least a few days. Maybe next time...