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         Introduction to Can Tho, Vietnam
Mekong Detal tours - Vietnam Travel Home

Sited at the confluence of the Can Tho and Hau Giang rivers, CAN THO is the delta's biggest city (pop. 1,900,000), a major trading centre and transport interchange. However, abundant rice fields are never far away, and boat trips along the canals and rivers, through memorable floating markets, are undoubtedly Can Tho's star attraction. Broad Hoa Binh is the city's backbone, and the site of the Ho Chi Minh Museum (Tues, Thurs & Fri 811am & 24.30pm, Sat & Sun 811am & 79pm), where yet more photographs and army ordnance are displayed. Can Tho was the last city to succumb to the North Vietnamese Army, a day after the fall of Saigon, on May 1, 1975 the date that has come to represent the absolute reunification of the country. The recently opened, impressive Can Tho Museum, 1 Hoa Binh (Tues, Wed & Thurs 811am & 25pm, Sat & Sun 811am & 6.309pm), presents "the history of the resistance against foreign aggression of Can Tho people", as well as local economic and social achievements.

The city's central market swallows up the entire central segment of waterfront Hai Ba Trung. North of the market on Hai Ba Trung, Ong Pagoda is a prosperous place financed and built in the late nineteenth century by a wealthy Chinese townsman, Huynh An Thai. Inside, a ruddy-faced Quan Cong presides, flaunting Rio Carnival-style headgear. On his right is Than Tai, to whom a string of families come on the first day of every month, asking, not unreasonably, for money and good fortune.

Life On The Mekong
The Mekong Delta is divided into 9 provinces: Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, An Giang, Vinh Long, Kien Giang, Hau Giang and Minh Hai. The people in this region are made up of Vietnamese and some people of Khmer, Chinese and Cham origin. This accounts for the variety of religions that add to the cultural diversity of this area. Among the religions practiced here are: Buddhism, Catholicism, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao and Islam. The southwest region of Vietnam is known for the vast rice fields and the huge plantations that make up the core of this region's economy. The region is also known for the many miles of waterways criss-crossing the land making this area both fertile and unique.

Fruit Orchards

The majority of Vietnam's fruits come from the many orchards of the Mekong Delta. On any given season, one can find a variety of tropical fruits that are produced by farmers of this region in the markets of Saigon, Hue, and Ha Noi. For many tropical fruits, the season is very short because they cannot be picked green and they don't last long in storage where they quickly loose their aroma. The greatest variety of fruits is available during the raining season, from June to September in the South. After they are picked, the fruits are transported on small boats to floating markets where they are sold to wholesale dealers. In the off-season, many orchards become flower nurseries to meet the peak demand for flowers during the new year celebration in the big cities. The orchards are divided by a myriad of small irrigation canals with delicate bamboo bridges called "Cau Khi" or monkey bridges crossing them.

Life On The River
The people living in the Mekong Delta make their living as farmers and fishermen. Often, they live right on the edge of the rivers or canals on various structures built from whatever materials found. Consequently, the architecture along the delta varies from place to place. Often, many homes have fisheries right under them. Enterprising individuals build a cage like structure of bamboo beneath their homes on these waterways to house fishes. As the fishes grew, they sell the whole batch to processors from the city and start with new ones. Life in the delta is tightly woven with its rivers as daily activities and businesses are conducted on its banks. Markets, stores, ship yards, repair shops are some of the more popular trades

Floating Markets

Floating markets are held every morning from 5:00 to about 11:00. Phung Hiep market is the biggest since it is located at the intersection of 7 major canals. It is also a photographer's delight because it can be seen above from a bridge. Cai Rang and Phong Dien are two other notable floating markets in the delta. Boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards of the Mekong Delta converge to the floating market. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes. Buyers are local traders with bigger boats snapping everything by the bushels and resell at local markets or to wholesale dealers from big cities, often for a handsome profit. Large floating markets are not complete without its floating restaurants, floating gas stations and an occasional tour boat filled with tourists.

Snake Industry

Another unique industry in this region is the snake farm in the area of My Tho township. In 1977, Lt. Colonel Tran Van Duoc (Tu Duoc), a reptile enthusiast, created Dong Nam Snake Farm. Initially created strictly as a research site for medicinal uses of reptile venom, Dong Nam Snake Farm today is the largest of its kind in Vietnam. The farm boasts 20 different varieties of venomous snakes and is home to other species such as boas, turtles. Cobras are often soaked along with herbs in large flasks of whisky which can be bought in the snake market in Phung Hiep. This potent drink reportedly will increase your libido as well as cure all sorts of illnesses. Live snakes are also for sale in the market and are exported to other Asian countries to be used as food and medicine. In a typical snake full-course meal, the gallbladder is extracted from the freshly-killed snake and together with some blood and whisky a drink is made. The snake is then chopped off and cooked in various ways. Most tourists opt for a curry stir-fried snake dish just for the thrill of it. General comments are "too much bone and no taste!". More adventurous travelers have reported severe stomach cramps after swallowing down the snake drink.

HoChiMinh City Sapa Hanoi Capital Hue Can tho Halong Bay Da Nang Hoian Ancient Town Nha trang, Vin Pearl Vietnam Dalat Phan thiet