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Coming to the Southwestern the love from the land of rivers

Having an invitation from a friend, we came to the Southwestern. The Mekong Delta- a young land with fruits of all kinds all year round. The land is divided by a dense system of rivers and canals. The rivers with their fine silt have created a green vast ecology systems. After several hours of travelling, we reached Hau Giang his home town.

The Mekong Delta- a young land with fruits of all kinds all year round

We had a travel to the land with a dense system of rivers, with vast rice paddies, and with fruitful gardens all year round… And we had chances to enjoy traditional folk songs of ‘cai luong’, enjoy rhythms of ‘dan ca tai tu’ (music of amateurs), and see Southwestern girls in their beautiful ‘ao ba ba’. We also had chances to try traditional local meals and tropical fruits of all kinds. And what is more, we could be told about legends of the land- legends passing by generations.

The love of land, the love of people

A narrow road of over a kilometer brought us to his house. The road is covered with two lines of coconut trees alongside. Sometimes we had to pass over concrete bridges- he had told us about a ‘revolution of eliminating monkey bridges’ in his home town. At the quay, his father picked us up with a vo lai boat. Vo lai boat (also called tac rang, vo vot) is the main mean of transportation in the Mekong Delta. The popping sound of the engine; the river expanding wide; red cocoa fruits glimmering in vast green trees along the two banks- a vast area of green color. And then we finally reached his home. A small house nestles in the green area of orchards, we could not identify where his neighbor houses were in such a vast green area.

After welcoming us, his mother hurried to go into the orchard and came back with a bunch of tropical fruits of all kinds- grapefruits and coconuts. The tiring travel disappeared in the sweet taste of the fruits.

We were also treated with traditional Southern foods as sour soup of dien dien flowers, grilled snakehead fish and papaya stewed in coconut milk- the foods as good as the hospitality of local people.

And when the night fell down, the silence of the night seemed to the sounds of mosquito buzzing, the squeaking sounds of frogs coming from all sides of the house clearer. We was sitting in mosquito nets and talking. In a distant place, among strange people, we could also feel their warm hospitality given to us.

Night water lilies

Water lily- a flower of the countryside- is easy to grow, almost everywhere. In the season- the flooding season, water lilies keep reaching out of the water. A part of people her earn their living by picking water lilies. It is a hard job for they have to leave early in mornings, soaking themselves in the water for hours to pick up the lilies and sell them to restaurants, or in villages at a very low price.

Water lily- a flower of the countryside- is easy to grow, almost everywhere

And lily stem can be made into different dishes like hot pot, pickled water lily or stir-fried lilies with shrimps.

While talking about old legends of the land, he asked us to see water lilies blooming at night. We knew water lilies bloom in mornings and close in the early evening. Despite our curiosity, he smiled nicely and asked us to have a try. Sitting on the vo lai boat, smelling the scent of Meleuca trees at night. Then he stopped the engine and shined the torch light… we could see water lilies of different colors reaching out of the water. It seemed that we could hear them blooming. I previously thought water lilies closed their petals at night. He said they were ‘ghost’ water lilies- the flowers blooming at night only and closing their petals in day lights, sometimes going down under water.

We came home with a regretful feelings, we still felt the scent of the water lilies spreading out in night fog…

Nga Bay floating market- remember “The love of a mat vendor”

Floating market is a typical feature of the Southwest. We all know about it, however our Southwestern friend persuaded us to go there.

He took us to Nga Bay Floating Market (also called Phung Hiep Floating Market). Baskets of fresh fruits shining in sunny light; smiles always appearing on people faces. They welcomed one another so friendly. We were offered fruits of mangos, guavas and rambutans for a try before we bought something a kind of generosity of the Southern people.

Floating market - unique culture of the people of the Mekong Delta

Besides fruits, we could try some beverages and some foods. We could also buy mats with beautiful patterns as in the song of a mat vendor we used to hear:

“A deep river- landslide in one bank, layer deposit at another bank

A love from a mat vendor has never been faded”

We could also try foods by Chinese-Vietnamese, buy something necessary from Khmer girls, cloths from Cham people and Malaysians… A diversity feature of the new land.

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Time 13/09/2021 at 14:15

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