Monkey bridges in Mekong Delta
Can Tho-the Mekong Delta & Floating Markets
A visit to the capital and university city of Can Tho is a worthwhile way to become familiar with this day-to-day life between water and woods, wilderness and city, and to understand it in more depth. The adventure of Mekong starts in Ho Chi Minh. An early start is customary. And although we are traveling away from the city, we are trapped in an unbelievable throng of traffic which is known as the rush hour, but has absolutely nothing in common with our usual understanding of the phrase.
The outline of Can Tho, the provincial capital, emerges against the never-ending backdrop of the rice paddies, and travelers on the long rout from Saigon enter the Mekong’s day-to-day routine. The first glimpse of the bustling life in the capital is enough to dispel any illusions about mysterious places concealed in tropical jungles; yet the charm of this vibrant city soon captivates new arrivals. With a population of more than 1 million, Can Tho is the largest city in the delta and the hub of all its waterways and roads. Its riverbank promenade, named after the valiant Hai Ba Trung sisters, is lively scene, attractive garden cafes and restaurants with a magnificent view of the Mekong are set out on well-tended lawns shaded by palm trees at the confluence of Can Tho and Hau Giang. The “people committee” in Can Tho takes a harder-hitting approach, playing quite a different tune in its daily refresher courses in party ideology. The loudspeakers burst into life at tive in the morning, bellowing a propaganda song into the ears of the starled southerners.
Moored at the market hall directly on the banks of the Mekong is the Bassac, a wonderful wooden barge, offering cruises down the Mekong with accommodation. The ship has twelve cozy cabins, a fantastic sundeck and a restaurant. Delicious Mekong specialties are served on the main deck. The Bassac moors on the river banks overnight and the Mekong dream begin. Everything follows the rules arranged on the water, from boat to boat, from sailor to sailor – all under the watchful gaze of the good spirits. There isn’t a ship, sampan, or dinghy on the river without the demonic gaze of the red and white eyes painted on ts bow. These eyes are the only power that can quell the mighty waters of the Mekong. Without the eyes, not a single kohlrabi or pineapple would reach the market, not a single child would arrive at school, and not a single tourst would visit the loveliest market on the Mekong Delta.
No ground from the Vietnam
war is as hallowed as the tunnel-ridden earth of Cu Chi, where 18, 000 peasant
guerrillas waged war from 125 miles(200km) of handdug-passageway and chambers.
It was in Cu Chi that Viet Cong planed their momentous assault on Saigon during
the 1968 Tet New Year celebrations. In 1990, the government opened two tunnels
sections to the public, including the command center at Ben Duoc, an area known
to U.S soldiers as the Ho Bo Wood and Ben Dinh.
Cu chi’s peasant soldiers started burrowing into the district’s clay ground
in the late 1940s during the French War. By 1967, they’d excavated a network of
tunnels, aid stations, kitchens, theaters dormitories, weapons caches, wells,
printing shops,and other chambers. So extensive is three-tiered network, 10 to
30 feet(3-9m) underground, that the 25th U.S. Infantry unwittingly situated its
base partially above the tunnels just northeast of Cu Chi.
The U.S.Army sent volunteers known as tunnel rats into this Viet Cong
netherworld to root out intelligence and destroy the guerrillas’ base. During
Operation Cedar Fall in 1967, Army bulldozers razed more than 4 square miles
(11sq km) of neighboring forest to deprive the VC of cover.
At the war’ heigh, more than 200,000 shells rained down here each month,
transForming Cu Chi into the “ most bombed, shelled, gassed, defoliated, and
generally devastated area in the history of warfare. Though bombing disabled
some 70 percent of the tunnels, Cu Chi remained a staging area for VC
operations throughout the war.
Most day trips out of Ho Chi Minh city visit the reconstructed tunnels at
Ben Duoc, 60km northwest of the city. The first stop on a guided tour is often
at a camouflaged (25 by 30cm) hatch atop a tunnel entrance. Nearby, a larger
hatch covers a booby trap of bamboo
spikes driven into the bottom of a pit. The VC cooked up grisly ways to kill
and maim Gis, as an exhibit of eight boody traps makes painthfully obvious.
American Gis fell pray to traps both outside and within the tunnels.
Above the ground, the tour winds past an American M-41 tank, disabled by a
mine in 1970s, as well as a manequins of VC cadres, resting in hammocks and
working in excavated weapon-making shops. The guerrillas mined a good deal of
gunpower from duds dropped by American bombers and hurled from artillery
Though some tunnels had been enlarged to accommodated tourists, following
in the footsteps of Cu Chi’s guerrillas often means having to crouch or crawl
through close, humid, bell-shaped corridors. The passage’s many zigs and zags
were designed to thwart weapons fire, while interior hatches served as a
defense against flames, chemicals, and water blown through by the U.S Army. The
earthen walls retain a consistency of cement, a natural attribute that made the
district particularly well suited for tunneling. As excavated earth was a dead
giveaway of tunneling activity, the guerrillas would dispose fo freshly dug
dirt by raking it into rice fields and pouring it into streams and bomb
The tunnels at Ben Dinh. 30 miles(50km) northwest of Ho Chi Minh city, are
also opened to visitors. This small, renovated section of the real tunnels,
unlit and cramped, are not for the claustrophobic.
Both Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc are known for their target ranges, where for a
dollar a pop you can fire your wartime weapon of choice-an M-16, AK-47, Chinese
carbine, shotgun, etc.
Cao Daism, attempting to create a Universal Religion. Tay Ninh – home of the Religions
“Because of the very multiplicity of religions, humanity cannot always live in harmony. That is why I decided to unite all these religions into one to bring them back to the primordial unity.” These words were announced in the 1920s by a forty-some-thing Vietnamese civil servant in the French colonial government. Ngo Van Chieu had presided over numerous séances, where he experienced impressive apparitions of a Supreme Being, Cao Dai, amassing 247 followers of his revelations in the process. He felt a vocation to unite the teachings of the founders of Western and Eastern religions, to bring them together under a single roof, in a universal religion focused on a universal God – from Confucius, Buddha, and Jesus Christ to Mohammed.
Funded by private donations, the largest temple of the rapidly growing Cao Dai sect was built in Tay Ninh as early as 1933, and is still the headquarter of Caodaism. Cao Dai’s hierarchical structure is similar to that of Roman Catholicism. A Pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests congregate at the Holy See in the Holy City on the periphery of Tay Ninh. The compound is practically a mini-Vatican, functioning along similar lines to its more famous model. However, the ‘job” of Pope is currently vacant, and Caodaism has experienced only one Pope. Caodaism is the third most prevalent religion in Vietnam after Buddhism and Catholicism.
Caodaism is believed to have around 30,000 followers in the USA, Europe and Australia. The religion’s main principles focus on reincarnation, prohibition of alcohol, selflessness, non-violence. charity and poverty are regarded as moral obligations.
Many visitors, however, are cowed in its. Even though the glove is, fortunately, in semi-darkness at the front of the temple, its stern gaze conveys a merciless warning. Cameras remain in pockets; shoes are obediently taken off at the entrance. The midday service is more relaxed. The colorful procession, help every day at noon on the dot attracts crowds of spectators. Most have traveled from Ho Chi Minh City, a distance of 90 kilometers, to Tay Ninh in the upper Mekong delta, a mere 26 kilometers from the Cambodian border. It is often a tiring journey that may take at least three hours, and so it is useful to combine it with a visit to the tunnel of Cu Chi – a practical plan which is a mixed blessing, not only because of the departure time: 5 a.m. from Ho Chi Minh city. However, the visit is well worth while. Enormous crowds gather at the Cao Dai temple, and latecomers must stay outside when worship begins – a torment for photography fans. The service begins with a procession of worshippers in three lines. Men file over to the right and center of the temple, while women take their place on the left. All kneel and bow three times, spreading a sea of colorful robes over the gleaming tiled floor of the gigantic temple. Red robes signify adherents of Confucius, while saffron yellow is worn by Buddhists, and blue by Taoists. White is considered the symbol of purity and be worn by all.
How to book a trip to Mekong Delta & Cu Chi Tunnels
Please contact Vietnam Asiana Travel to get the best tours & price upon your arrival date
Vietnam Head Office
Address: 03. Phan Huy Ich Street,Badinh Dist,Hanoi,Vietnam
Tel: (+84.4)-39275828 Fax: (+84.4)-39275829
Hotline: (+84 ) -975699119