THE BEST OF THE REST of my time in the Mekong Delta, randomly thrown together just because. Can Tho, Ha Tien, Long Xuyen all got their own pages, because I had more stuff from there. The odds & sods covered here are quite spread out. Ca Mau and Soc Trang are out on the way towards the very tip of the delta. My Tho is quite close to Saigon, but Rach Gia is on the southern coast.
Like the other Delta parts, there’s no 7 Wonders Of The World here, just the scenery and lifestyle of the people.
More than 1 in 5 Vietnamese live in its Mekong Delta.
From Saigon, the green lands stretch 400kms to Dat Mui in the south-east, and 320km to Ha Tien on the Cambodian border.
The delta is less developed the further you move from Saigon.
Time consuming ferry crossings are (were?) are part of travelling through.
Once beyond Can Tho, traffic eases considerably. Flowers provide divine protection on the highway.
Rice farming is the basis of the delta economy and way of life.
Fishing is the area's other big employer.
And while there are some so-so "atrractions", like this really weird amusement park cum religiousy place.......
....the flood prone farms and waterways.....
....the regional towns with their markets are the drawcard for visitors.
Delta pace is a step down from the frantic ways of Ho Chi Minh.
Locals, back in the 90s at least, were always ready with a smile and a laugh.
From my coffee stall in Rach Gia.....
....a welder keeping a Honda alive.....
....out in the rice harvest....
....or sitting on the dock of the bay....
...there was no shortage of great photo subjects.
This guy selling snakes didn't look to pleased to see me though.
My Tho is the first town of size heading from Ho Chi Minh.
Set on the Mekong River.....
....it has a busy regional market....
.....where fisherman trade their daily catch....
...its large fleet working the nearby South China Sea.
Many perilous sea journeys began in My Tho.
Fishing boats brought 100s of thousands of refugees to freedom in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Thousands did not survive.
Most people were unwilling, unable or not interested in fleeing.
Agriculture is another big part of the delta economy.
Others work for themselves, in town and cities.
Footpaths are full of traders and tinklers.
The relative price of replacing goods means a steady trade for repairmen.
The delta people are largely homogeneous.
The Khmer Krom and the descendants of the original inhabitants, from the time when the Khmer kings held sway.
Following the Vietnamese conquests in the 1700s, the French soon followed and screwed things up. They do make nice buildings though.
Far from lifting the region out of poverty, the French taxed it further down.
Delta farmers live much as they have for centuries.
They are the mercy of the season, relying on the floods to feed their fields without destroying them.
They take what they can, like frogs from the paddies.
And the sea brings in its daily harvest.
All this makes the Mekong an eye-opening destination.