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Mekong delta river

Photo of Entry:  Mekong delta river

The Mekong delta is the southernmost part of Vietnam, South-West from Hồ Chí Minh City, which is on another river basin. The Mekong enters Vietnam as two branches: The First River (Tiền Giang), which takes several names on the way, enters at Vĩnh Xương and flows through Tân Châu, Cao Lãnh, Sa Đéc, near Cái Bè and Mỹ Tho before exiting out at sea, and the Bassac river, entering from Cambodia just North of Châu Đốc, and flowing through Long Xuyên, Cần Thơ and near Sóc Trang before exiting ou at sea at Cửa Đình An.
Threats from the sea

Roughly one half of the delta, North of Cần Thơ, is often flooded about the fall equinox as fresh water cannot freely flow out at sea, and the other half is less flooded, but more and more subject to the effects of saltwater from the sea. The lanscapes are thus very varied, from wide open ridefields to mangrove through coconut groves. The mean altitude of the delta is so low that the sea tides are not only felt but the current actually inverts as far North as Châu Đốc.

The Mekong delta river produces more than half the total agricultural produce of Vietnam, and is dubbed the “Rice basket of Vietnam”. It is a very pleasant area to live, with a bountiful nature and charming people. Its being threatened by an increase in the water levels linked to global climate change makes the delta all the more precious today.
Life on the delta

Life in the countryside is very much revolving around the river and its innumerable canals and tributaries. Not only is fishing a major occupation in the region, it is essentially done by casting nets and mostly at the scale of a whole village, but for a few decades now, the inhabitants of the delta have set out to grow fish in floating fish farms, at first in the province of An Giang, North of the Bassac river, and now farther and farther downstream. The most recent evolution is fish farming in ponds, be it shrimps, tôm càng or tôm sú, or crabs, and now several sorts of fish. The landscape begins to change deeply in the vicinity of these farms.

Floating market at Trà Ôn, early morning

The Mekong delta river and its tributaries form a dense net of waterways, of which near 15,000 miles can be navigated by boats of over 100 tons in the delta alone, that is more than ten times the length of compacted road. So all the markets are near the river, and West of the Bassac, they are often afloat on the river itself, be it wholesale markets like that of Cái Răng, near Cần Thơ, or retail markets or even village markets like at Trà Ôn.

All the trades pertaining to the river are represented along the banks, where you find not only agriculture producers, fruit drying facilities and small-scale cane sugar refineries, but also mechanics, wooden ship building yards and dry docks.

Source: mekongtravelboat.com


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