Where the river and land begin to merge
27.06.2009 - 01.07.2009
I spend four days in the Mekong Delta, each day exploring the river in the morning before catching a local bus onwards in the afternoon. My first stop is Chau Doc, a small town on the edge of Vietnam with a considerable population living in floating village just off the banks of the built up land town. Being rowed amongst the homes, they look not unlike the houses seen in the countryside and small children skip along their narrow porches and moored boats with no consideration for the murky brown river that they are a foot slip from falling in. Underneath some of the boat buildings there are fish farms - sunk nets where fish are bred to be sold on in town. Further in there are slurry making plants to feed the fish & there is even a floating petrol station, so engine powered boats can fill up. On the far bank of the river, where the vegetation is more wild, the floating village merges almost imperceptibly with land based swellings; first stilt houses with rickety connecting bridges, then more and more grounded houses until the path reaches the road again.
My second stop is Can Tho, further down the Mekong and deeper into Vietnam. I arrive late in the evening & book myself straight onto a sunrise tour of the floating markets and backwaters of this part of the delta. My short nights sleep is rewarded with a beautiful sunrise that colours the sky and river a brilliant gold while dusting the waterfront buildings and moored boats a lovely husky pink. For 2 hours we are motored around the bustling river markets; the sellers with fruit and veg piled impossibly high on their narrow barges, tall poles sticking up from the end of their boat holding an example of their wares. We stopped at a family rice noodle making business, the pre-noodling rice pancakes drying in the sun, then it was on to the lush green over-hangings of the backwaters.
After a total of 8 and a half hours on the water over the previous 2 days I decided that my day in My Tho would have (for the sake of my inner balance) to be land based. I set off to the snake farm, naively expecting to see snakes & how anti-venom was made. There was anti-venom being made there, sure, and snake face cream, but no explanation of how. There was snakes there also, in too small cages, but also bears (in too small cages), birds (in too small cages) Sloths (In, yup, you've guessed it) and monkeys... chained to trees. I didn't stay long and the next day I headed to Saigon, in the hope of making more sensible visiting choices.