The vast Mekong Delta,
a once hostile swampland, today is Vietnamís most productive agricultural
area, producing nearly half of the nationís annual food crop. The entire
delta area is made up of 13 provinces, covers 40,000 km2 and has a population
of 18 million.
Nutrient-rich deposits carried
by the Mekong River and its comprehensive network of waterways make this
region extraordinarily fertile for the production of rice, tropical
fruit and sugar cane. In fact, about 60 per cent of Vietnam's rice is produced
Secluded waterways with overhanging
foliage lined with stilt houses, mangrove swamps, paddy fields, fruit orchards,
cottage industries, home-stays, Khmer temples, floating markets make this
area extemely popular with tourists.
After our two-hour drive from
Saigon through rice farming fields and small villages we arrived a My Tho
City -- the major trading hub for the area. We proceded to the docks area
where we met our local guide -- a lovely Vietnamese lady, who has been
doing this for 16 years. She led us to a delta boat which took us across
a wide expanse of river water to our first island visit. We sat on rattan
chairs and benches and were thankful for the cooler air off the water.
The 2 km-long Rach Mieu bridge
over the Mekong could be seen in the distance, as well as a great variety
of delta water traffic. During the rainy season -- May to November -- the
waters of the Mekong are quite brown from the silt deposits -- waters were
a bit clearer during our April "sunny season" visit.