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Life On The River

Monkey bridges - an endangered species 

One of the most endearing sights in the Mekong Delta is a person making their way across one of the fascinating 'monkey bridges' (cau khi).

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

A homestay among the people of the Mekong Delta is an unforgettable experience and can give you a unique insight into the day-to-day lives of the local people. The bulk of the local people here make their living from growing fruit or cultivating rice.

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

The people living in the Mekong Delta make their living as farmers and fishermen.

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

Map of Mekong Delta
Luon Cave
Dau Go Cave
Mekong Floating Markets
Destinations in Halong Bay
Kim Quy Cave
Bo Nau Cave
Trinh Nu Cave
Ba Ham Cave
Thien Cung Cave
Major Cities Of The Delta
Entertainmetns in Halong City
Snake Industry
Sung Sot Cave
Me Cung Cave
Tam Cung Cave

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