We did a quick 2 days sightseeing on the Mekong Delta on all sorts of boats and watched the people that live here, carve out the same existence they’ve lived for who knows how many years?!
You’d expect the major town here of Can Tho to be tiny and quiet, but no. This is Asia and it’s populated! So Can Tho has around 1.2m people and it seems just as many scooters but apart from being the starting point for Mekong Delta tours and transport services to Cambodia, it doesn’t have much else going for it. We did wander through an amazing fish market where the produce was incredibly fresh – you pick your fish and it’s banged on the head, gutted & scaled and put in a bag ready to cook for dinner in a moments flash. I think some of those fish were still flapping too as their fins were removed. If you ever have to sell food at a market in a 3rd world country, make sure you sell vegies!
We also took a “shortcut” that turned in to a long meandering walk through some tiny little back streets and what a ruckus we caused! I don’t think too many westerners have made it in here and we had all of the kids practicing their hello’s to us. We also got a good look at how life is lived here because everything is done right there on the street. The kids play, the motorbike is washed & serviced, dinner is cooked and cleaned up, hair is groomed (they pluck out the grey hairs!) and TV is watched all out on the street. Usually the front room of the house is fully open to the street and at night, the scooter is brought inside and the shutter door brought down on their very small home.
Once out of the city this place is all water. They have soooo much water! Our guide commented that Australians in particular, note the huge amount of water here; although it all looks like the Yarra!
As you’d expect in all of this water, the majority of locals live on boats. These take all sorts of shapes and sizes and are also the form of income for the family. So a family, often including the dog, will spend their life on the boat. They live on it, travel up river to buy their produce and then transport it back to the Delta to sell at the market; which is also held on the river. Alternatively, they live in stilted houses along the river’s edge, but it seems that many of these are illegal and the families – who appear to have nothing in the world apart from the corrugated iron sheet that forms their “home” – are just told to move elsewhere whenever the government requires it.
We stopped in at a couple of production places. One made a variety of food out of rice, including pop rice! I guess when all you have is rice you get to be pretty creative with how you can eat it. What is striking is just how manual everything is here. There’s no machinery or automation involved; just lots of cheap labour.
After Mekong, we’re out of Vietnam as we run out of visa, so it’s back to Malaysia for a quick stop before heading home to Oz. Vietnam has been fabulous; so different to Singapore and Malaysia & even Thailand. The natural scenery outside of the cities has been amazing and it’s also been incredible to watch this country that lives literally on the street.
We’re both a bit worried about how we’ll go driving back home! We’ll expect to be able to just walk or drive out into a bunch of traffic and have it part for us! But I won’t miss the honking or the Asian equivalent to Richard Clayderman that seems to be the soundtrack here!