Tag Archives: Mekong River

Mekong Delta – Vietnam

Before I headed north from Saigon towards Da Lat in the Southern Highlands of Vietnam, I took a short trip out to the Mekong Delta in the south west by bus.

The Mekong Delta is host to one of the largest rivers in Asia – the self-named Mekong River – one that stretches over 4000km crossing through Laos and Cambodia from Northern Vietnam. The natural design of the province with its numerous brown-coloured meandering canals provides a perfect watery habitat for small quiet provincial villages built on huge lush rice fields. The area is most famous for its production of rice and to this day remains the most important source of rice for the country, with enough surpluses available for foreign export. The area is so densely irrigated, it also provides perfect cultivation for all kinds of fruit, coconuts, sugarcane and fish.

Mekong River from My Tho - Vietnam

Mekong River from My Tho – Vietnam

After only about an hour’s bus ride, I arrived in the small town of My Tho, the closest point of entry to the Mekong Delta from Saigon. Much like the Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak in Thailand, the area attracts droves of tourists to check out the local delicacies, culture and landscape. With limited road access, I hopped on a river boat trip as this was the only real way to properly gain a glimpse of life in the district. The banks of the river were lined with numerous floating houses and markets, each standing on precarious foundations high above the water line to escape the daily rising tides. The dense green jungle sat behind the buzz of the river industry, with the Mekong River slithering its way out into the distance.

Mekong River Bank Housing - My Tho, Vietnam

Mekong River Bank Housing – My Tho, Vietnam


Buildings Flanking the Mekong River - Vietnam

Buildings Flanking the Mekong River – Vietnam


Casting View of the Banks of the Mekong River - Vietnam

Casting View of the Banks of the Mekong River – Vietnam


Boat Driver - Mekong River, Vietnam

Boat Driver – Mekong River, Vietnam


Mekong River Boat Taxi -Vietnam

Mekong River Boat Taxi -Vietnam


Man Cleaning Front Porch - Mekong River, Vietnam

Man Cleaning Front Porch – Mekong River, Vietnam

As we chugged along the river, we passed by local industries going about their business – anything from fishing and agriculture to rice transportation, as well as the production of sugar cane and fruits. The area is the largest exporter of rice to neighbouring Thailand in the world, and also has a large industry of shrimp, catfish and basa fish, all again hugely exported.

Local Industry - Mekong River, Vietnam

Local Industry – Mekong River, Vietnam


Trading Boat - Banks of the Mekong River, Vietnam

Trading Boat – Banks of the Mekong River, Vietnam


Parked Fishing Boat - Mekong River, Vietnam

Parked Fishing Boat – Mekong River, Vietnam


Pineapple Boat - Mekong River, Vietnam

Pineapple Boat – Mekong River, Vietnam


Agricultural Boats - Mekong River, Vietnam

Agricultural Boats – Mekong River, Vietnam


Guard Dogs - Mekong River, Vietnam

Guard Dogs – Mekong River, Vietnam

With access to local villages restricted mainly to the waterways of the Mekong, we stopped off on one of the banks to the South and entered the jungle on foot for an early lunch. The heat intensified greatly throughout midday, with the jungle vegetation enough to at least keep the sun rays from beating down on us.

Boats Parked on the Jungle Edge - Mekong River, Vietnam

Boats Parked on the Jungle Edge – Mekong River, Vietnam


Hut Protected in the Jungle - Mekong River, Vietnam

Hut Protected in the Jungle – Mekong River, Vietnam


Hut by the Side of the Mekong River - Vietnam

Hut by the Side of the Mekong River – Vietnam


Fish Dish - My Tho, Vietnam

Fish Dish – My Tho, Vietnam


Passive Thoughts - Mekong River, Vietnam

Passive Thoughts – Mekong River, Vietnam


Vietnamese Family - Mekong River, Vietnam

Vietnamese Family – Mekong River, Vietnam

After a short break, we then moved on further down the river by kayak. The Mekong District is renowned for its export of coconuts and fruit including bananas, so we managed to pass by some sizeable coconut and banana plantations, stopping off at the factories en-route to see how they prepared coconut candy. A couple of farmers also impressively climbed the huge coconut trees to show us how dangerous and rigorous their daily labour lives were. There were no health and safety precautions in place – just a bunch of guys jumping from tree to tree knocking coconuts to the ground using their huge machetes. The farmers had big rough hard working hands, with years of labour showing on their faces. Their core strength and skills were ordinarily enough to keep them out of trouble, but one of the farmers explained to me the plight of falling from great heights, showing me the marks of a huge puncture wound in his side.

Once the coconuts reached the production line, they would then be cracked open using industrial machines to extract the lush milk from inside. The milk would then be mixed with sugar cane and other ingredients, before being melted down and blended together. Once thickened, the mixture would then be stretched out onto a long preparation board and cooled down before being cut up into sizeable chunks for packing and shipping out.

Coconuts - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Coconuts – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Coconut Candy Preparation - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Coconut Candy Preparation – Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Later on after tasting some of the sweet goodness, we strolled through the jungle towards a rice wine factory. This whole afternoon was a strange experience and not quite how I imagined entering my first jungle. I had vivid pictures of the Vietnam War jungles in my head, but this was more like a luxury holiday stroll through less deadly terrains with some other tourists in tow. We were in the jungle, but apparently risk free.

Into The Jungle - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Into The Jungle – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Canals of the Mekong Delta - Vietnam

Canals of the Mekong Delta – Vietnam

As we headed away from the rice wine factory, we took to the kayaks to move onwards. The canals slithered in and out as we passed down through the huge dominating jungle and bamboo trees, the thick dense foliage making it difficult to see further than a few metres in. The ride through was completely tranquil, with a chance to absorb the sounds of the jungle life ringing around you.

Boats at Peace - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Boats at Peace – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Me Wearing a Non La - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Me Wearing a Non La – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Smoking Man - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Smoking Man – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Kayaking through the Jungle - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Kayaking through the Jungle – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Happy Smile - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Happy Smile – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Tourists in the Mekong Delta - Vietnam

Tourists in the Mekong Delta – Vietnam

At the other end of the ride, we then stopped off at a snake sanctuary which gave me my first ever chance to hold one. Of course, there was nothing to worry about as the snakes were tamed, but I couldn’t help but be slightly fearful of the beautiful creatures. Despite the appearance, it’s skin was actually quite sticky, yet so tough. The animal was so dense, it was quite a weight on the shoulders.

Snake Bearer - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Snake Bearer – Mekong Delta, Vietnam


Me with Snake - Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Me with Snake – Mekong Delta, Vietnam

As the snake was finally passed around and I had one last chance for a close up, the visit came to an end and I headed back to My Tho before heading back on the bus to Saigon. This was a brief glimpse into to rural life of Vietnam and a perfect introduction for what was to come…

Further Reading on The Mekong Delta

 
Wikipedia History – Mekong Delta
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mekong_Delta

Lonely Planet Guide to Mekong Delta
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/mekong-delta/

More Photography :

 
“The Photography Collection” by Antematters

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