Saturday, 17 December 2011

Vietnam, Mekong Delta

Being the 10th longest river in the world, the Mekong river plays a significant role to over 320 million people. It flows through many countries, starting from the Tibetan Plateau to 3 provinces in China; then to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and South Vietnam; before finally settling into the South China Sea. Its name, mae-nam-khong has both Thai and Laos origin, which means Mother of Water.   

I was really excited to go to the Mekong Delta, partly to observe the lives of the people living along the river and the other half, simply to appreciate nature.  

This was one of the most interesting roadside coffee shop I have ever been to, somewhere near the Mekong Delta. While others in the group were buying drinks, we took the opportunity to rest for a few minutes in one of the many hammocks available. 

See how large the Mekong Delta is. The Mekong Delta covers the huge fertile flat plains of Southern Vietnam. The Delta people called the Mekong River, 'Cuu Long River', which means River of the nine dragons.

(from Viet Bamboo Travel website)

We travelled to My Tho by bus and reached the port of Cai be. 

From the quay, we took one of these motor boats. According to the guide, Cai Be Floating Market is a very busy place in the Mekong Delta. Every morning, 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables and other products, lined the banks of the river to wait for customers.  Unfortunately, we reached Cai Be at noon so we missed all the actions. It was a bit of a let-down for me because I wanted to see this.

Not the best photo, but the scene in Cai Be looks like this in the afternoon. The people travel by their little sampan and all of them wear the "non-la", the leaf conical hat.

The guide told us that most of the young people at the Mekong Delta had moved to HCM to look for jobs. Life has not been very good for the Delta people because the building of dams at the Mekong River, by countries such as China and Laos had affected their livelihood.During the wet season, the dams released large volumes of water from their reservoirs and this create flash floods, which killed many crops. There were also fewer fishes in the river when the ecosystem was disrupted.

The river widens as water rises each year.


Houses, which were once built on land are now on water. Not shown here, farmers also lose parts of their agricultural land. When we see directly how our actions affect nature, it becomes an eye-opener.

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