An Giang


Annual spectacle in An Giang

Photo of Entry:  Annual spectacle in An Giang

During flood season, this southern province in the Mekong Delta is resplendent with a profusion of lotus flowers on its waterways and thousands of bird nests hanging delicately from the tops of trees.

What tourists may not know is that the flood season here, which arrives in October and ends in late December, brings a special kind of beauty not often seen the rest of the year.

During this time of year, the daily downpours cathe rivers and waterways to rise, preventing farmers from planting crops. But the floods leave a rich, fertile soil in the low-lying Mekong Delta region that is ideal for growing rice.

Traditionally, farmers would fish in small wooden boats or spread nets to catch birds that build their nests in the tops of trees, which are submerged in the water.

The farmers would then sell the birds, of which there are hundreds of species in the area, some of them rare and endangered.

Today, however, the local government regulates such activity and the locals have turned to cultivating water-borne plants and tapping the tourism trade during the flood season.

In the Tra Su National Ecological Cajeput Forest in Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province and in other areas, farmers are growing lotus flowers and water lilies and raising shrimp and fish in flooded lakes, ponds and fields.

During the season, the Tra Su forest is dense with clusters of water ferns on the surface of the water, which makes for a vivid sight in late day when the glow of the setting sun and the dense clusters of ferns floating on the water’s surface take on the appearance of an emerald-green silk carpet dotted with gold. As the breeze blows softly in the late afternoon, many of the birds fly back to their nests.

The province’s programme also promotes the growing of water-born vegetables, which are cultivated on stakes of cajeput wood in the flooded fields in Thanh My Commune in Chau Phu District.

Travelling around in small boats just to view the scenery can be a leisurely and pleasant activity, but tourists can also sample the local fare at either fancy or simple restaurants.

The goi tom tuoi (salad of raw shrimp, lotus root and herbs) and lau mam (hot pot with fish or shrimp sauce, chilli and vegetables) are two dishes not to be missed.

But the most famous dish of An Giang is bun ca Chau Doc (Chau Doc rice vermicelli with fish)

Many provinces in the delta also make bun ca but the flavour is quite different from the Chau Doc one.

Other popular dishes liked by both locals and tourists include nom hoa sung and nom hoa dien dien (salad of water lily and sesbanflowers) with ca linh kho lat (unsalted braised linh fish), (Snail steamed with citronella) and ca loc nuong trui (grilled snake-head fish) are other delicious specialties.

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Festivals also occur during this season, including boat and bull races.

Bui Hong Ha, director of An Giang Tourism Service, said the province was working with Can Tho and Kien Giang provinces to create a tourism triangle in the region, which would feature the flood season.

The province also wants to expand a plan with Thailand and Cambodia that would include trips combining the two countries with the southern region of Vietnam, which would visit the ethnic minority communities of the Cham, Hoa and Khmer who live in An Giang. Handicraft villages, cuisine and scenic tours will be part of the programme, the official said


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