Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mekong Delta

On Sunday and Monday the 19th and 20th, we went on a two day tour of the Mekong Delta. The best part of these tours are the people you meet on the bus. There's a lot of down time to gab and share war stories of being spoiled, American 'Ex-Pats' in this strange/familiar, rapidly developing, third world country. We toured a coconut candy "factory" along the river, really just some big bowls of bubbling sugar stirred by men with oars over open fires and a line of women cutting and wrapping the taffy by hand. We got to try everything and spent the rest of the day picking it out of our teeth. We also saw rice noodles and rice paper being made-everything labor intensive and definitely not automated. We learned that most people live on boats where they fish for a living or farm and bring their wares to the floating market early in the morning. Actually, the reason they bring them to the floating market is to sell to the tourists! That's the industry which sustains. The tourists are urged to come and see the floating market. People from all over the world float by on rickety old boats everyday to buy pineapples and a cup of coffee from the people of the Mekong. Otherwise they just get by farming or fishing to keep their lives afloat. No money, no technology, just the sunshine, the wind in your sails and your family surrounding you. Perhaps they've got the right idea. Perhaps they are less stressed out. Life is certainly simpler but most would choose to have more. And many do leave(or some of their many children do)for more education or to find opportunity on the crowded streets of Ho Chi MInh City.

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