In a world of highlights, this would be my number one, with an afternoon spent wandering through a small river village. As we docked the boat, the sounds of the radio permeated through the trees on the river bank. It was Saturday and the village was alive with community activity. Despite tour boats bringing visitors through on a regular basis, the locals are still both delighted to see us and somewhat amused that we find their life so interesting. Whilst many of them are exuberant, especially the kids, it’s always wise to be watchful of body language and ensure your presence isn’t making anyone uncomfortable.
Discover a village in Mekong river
More markets give further insight into the simple lives of the river people. As we walk through them, the hygiene factors (or lack thereof) can’t help but be noticed. I love seeing this authenticity, but at the same time, it’s these moments that make me realise that I travel to learn, but also to appreciate what I have.
Of course these people are born and bred here, so flies on meat and vegetables placed on the muddy ground does not seem out of place at all.
Rubbish is a real problem here, and indeed in other villages along the river. It’s difficult to understand sometimes, such is the value of this river in all that they do, but the level of education around rubbish, and the infrastructure to dispose of it is sadly lacking.
We were followed round the village by a group of local kids that we met at their school. Having spent some time with them, they weren’t keen on letting us go. It made for some funny interactions along the way. 450 children go to this school, an unappealing concrete structure, with open sewer holes and a concrete playground. Still, this is where the village’s future generation are learning English, opening up different opportunities for their future. They were keen to practice their English with us.
Rice – A primary food source
Rice plays a very important role in the Mekong Delta. Used as a primary food source, its by-products are used as fuel to drive factory kilns, and as the base for many income producing crafts. The woman here is planting rice plants into the bare spots in the fields where the original plants haven’t grown. This is such a difficult job. Bent over all day, in water and mud. Another example of just how hard these people work.
This was part of the rice factory that we stopped at. The equipment that is used is fairly antiquated, but in these country areas, they make do with what they have. The rice products are produced in and around the roaming dogs and chickens, pecking at the bits on the floor.
This woman sits at the front of her one room house on the edge of the rice fields and makes squares for baskets that are onsold to tourists. She squats here, all day, making on average six squares which is enough for one basket. In return, she receives 20,000 VND (or around AUD$1.20). It’s another of those moments when you can’t help but compare the difference in our worlds. The other thing I do notice however is that she is happy. Happy with her lot in life, and happy that she has a job. Makes you think doesn’t it?
Walking through the village means walking in and through the resident’s backyards. Obviously some courtesy needs to be extended when doing so, but they are more than willing to have you explore.
As we walked along the river and past the house above, these kids were out playing hopscotch (it was another name in Vietnamese that I can’t remember). Always keen to join in, the kids giggled as I threw their rock and jumped over their chalk drawn squares on the ground.
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