After five weeks of the confines of city concrete I become a tourist again.
Early Saturday morning I bumbled, bleary eyed, round the backpacker district, with my backpack, trying to find my bus out of the city. Even at 7.30am the comfort of an air conditioned coach caused me to melt in to the seat as I watched the change from traffic chaos to open sky and paddy fields as we travelled south to the Mekong Delta.
Oranges for sale
By the time it reaches Vietnam the Mekong forks laconically, spilling silt laden water, enriching soils for five rice crops a year. The city disappears and green paddy fields spread out towards the horizon, dotted with white fishing egrets and herons.
Roads balance precariously, slightly above the flooded fields. A little more water in the system and roads join the paddy fields. It’s easy to see why global warming is a huge issue for delta communities.
The river provides everything, food, transport and until quite recently, even drinking water.
Can Tho, on one of the larger Mekong river tributaries is main city of the region and the hub for tourist travel and local trade.
We were paddled through the dense shade of mangrove trees. An illusion of distance from civilisation. In reality often only a few trees separated the waterway from a road.
Mangroves for scafolding
On the main river vast barges ferried everything from pomegranates to charcoal. Barge after barge was unloading straight, thin, mangroves. Used everywhere for the ever spreading construction. I asked about sustainability and was told it was happening. Mangroves grow slowly though and there were no signs of replanting.
powered by people
Huge trunks of trees were floated down the river, stripped of life and now lying as pathetic as twigs. Cut down from rainforest further up stream. Regulation exists. Licences are required to cut them down but the intense pressure of production from sugar cane and coffee growers threatens.
The hubbub of humanity sprawl in, over and along side the water. Shelters, rather than houses, built on stilts to allow for the vagaries of the water level.
Vegetables for sale
Transport by everything from high tech,high speed motor boat to long punt style boats with equally long sized ores moved people and goods. At the wholesale market large boats mored together while smaller craft dodged between picking up supplies or touting for business.
It is easy to criticise, to be concerned about the ‘global issues’ but when your home is a wooden floor on stilts or at best, in a boat, I can understand why there is little thought beyond the immediate.
chameleon lizards changing colour even in a cage.