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Life On The River

Monkey bridges - an endangered species

These simple, arch-shaped footbridges are usually built of uneven logs about 30cm to 80cm wide and have only a simple bamboo railing. They are suspended anywhere from 2m to 10m above the canals and connect tiny villages throughout the region to main roads.

At first glance the bridges look more like makeshift scaffolding than a bridge. It's amazing t. watch the locals traverse these narrow catwalks with bicycles and heavy loads balanced between their shoulders on bamboo poles. A fall from one of these tightrope bridges could result in serious injury, but the Vietnamese just glide across with ease (and smiles on their faces).

In 1998 the government initiated a programme to begin teplacing the region's monkey bridges with safer, Im-wide wood piank overpasses. In 2000 the plan was amended with a new and improved agenda to do away with all of the delta's monkey bridges once and for all, and to replace them with more durable concrete bridges. While the move no doubt is a victory in terms of improvement to the local infrastructure throughout the Mekong Delta, giving local people easier and safer access across the canals, sadly the traditional landscape is suffering an aesthetic loss. The days of seeing these charming bridges everywhere are numbered, but still, with thousands of bridges to dismantle and replace, you can rest assured that there will always be some left to find.

A home away from home

Many of the homes that are open to Western visitors are on the banks of the Mekong River. When you reach the home of your host family, you should remove your shoes. Most families also prefer women to be well covered up.

In traditional houses, the sleeping area is open plan and has hammocks and wooden beds with mosquito nets hanging overhead (before the last rays of the sun disappear slap on plenty of repellent, as mosquitoes are rampant throughout the area).

A typical supper is the local favourite, elephant-ear fish, served beit upright on a bed of greens with flourishes of carrots shaped as water flowers. The flesh of the fish is pulled off in chunks with chopsticks and wrapped into a rice-paper pancake and dipped into sauce. This is accompanied by crispy spring rolls, followed by soup and rice (Mekong rice Is considered the most flavoursome).

After dinner some families exchange stories and songs over bottles o( rice wine long into the night, while others cluster around the TV.

The morning starts as the first lights flicker across the water. Before breakfast, everyone takes a bath with the family. Splashing around in the muddy Mekong, fully dressed, can leave you feeling dirtier than when you started! After a hearty breakfast you say your goodbyes and head back to Vinh Long via the floating market.

Life in the delta

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.

See Also

National Phu Day Festival begins
Queen Mary brings tourists to Nha Trang
Star Cruises to return to Halong after three-year hiatus
International kite festival draws dozens of nations
Luxury cruise ship docks at Halong
Visiting Southeast Asia with one visa
Vietnam takes part in international tourism expo in Russia
Vietnam attracts large numbers of Korean tourists
New resort to open doors in Hoa Binh
Show helps tourists learn Vietnamese people’s life
Vietnam takes part in Berlin international tourism fair
China launches Chongqing-Hanoi air route
UNESCO donates tourism maps to Hoi An
Various events to celebrate Hung Kings’ death anniversary
Vietnam Airlines offers discounts for Asian flights
Vietnam aims to receive 5.3 million international visitors in 2011
Electric cars for Hanoi tourists
Hue Palace gets royal restoration treatment
Vietnam joins in world’s largest travel trade show in Germany
Con Son-Kiep Bac Spring Festival gets underway
Northern provinces map out tourism events
Poetry Day in Ha Noi, Nghe An and HCMC
Spanish magazine spotlights Vietnam’s cave
Uncle Ho painting enters VN Guinness Book of Records
Visitors to Vietnam during Tet increase
Three provinces plan joint tourism representative office in Japan
Hanoi to host Japanese language festival
The river of nine Dragons
National Parks & Nature Reserves in Mekong Delta
Snake Industry
Phu Tho ready for Hung Kings’ worship ceremony
Global Village 2011 takes place in Vietnam
More flights to Phu Yen in National Tourism Year
Rare Han-Nom documents exhibited
Central earthly paradise attracts tourists
Vietnam attends the Asian cuisine festival in Abu Dhabi
First international choir festival opens in Quang Nam
Exhibition highlights Vietnam-Laos traditional relations
Ba Be National Park recognised as Wetland of Int’l Importance
National Tourism Year 2011 launched in central coastal province
Epikurean to launch luxury resort in Nha Trang
All-female art show opens
Vietnam’s treasures on display in RoK
Diplomats learn more about Vietnam’s culture
“Return to the Roots” tourism programme kicks off
Artist portrays childhood dream
Vietnam tourism promoted in Dubai
Promoting Vietnam’s tourism on TVB channel
Photo exhibition marks start of Mexico Year
Saigontourist receives over 1, 300 tourists on cruise ships
Tay Son Dynasty antiques on display
Yen Tu Buddhist spring festival kicks off
VNAT to hire design firm for marketing strategy
More tourists arrive in Nha Trang for first days of Lunar New Year
2, 500 maritime visitors arrive in Quang Ninh
Special activities to mark National Tourism Year 2011
The Mekong Delta vibrates with colour
Major Cities Of The Delta
Floating Markets


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