So today we got to go visit the Me Kong Delta after hearing about it in almost every single lecture and conversation we had about Vietnam. The Me Kong Delta was in a word bountiful. Farmers grew lots of rice and coconuts, on the islands we visited we got to see all the varied uses for coconuts, demonstrated by the variety of coconut souvenirs available. It was obvious from the way the locals treated us that the tourism industry in the Me Kong was pretty big.
There were always multiple other boats besides ours whenever we rowed anywhere, and always a pretty great souvenir shop. It was interesting to see the blending of the agricultural economy with the tourism based one as we walked through farmer’s houses and then through well lit souvenir shops that easily could have been from the US.
We have learned previously about the threat of salt water destroying the crops of the Me Kong and threatening their way of life in our lectures and even our tour guide mentioned this issue. Although the tour guide only really mentioned the threat to the Me Kong while we were in a large boat headed towards an island, the evidence that the locals were affected by it was given by the fact that we were even able to go and see and experience the Me Kong Delta at all. Clearly the budding tourism industry in the Me Kong was not only a product of a desire to share the Me Kong Culture with people, but also as another source of income in case the inevitable sea rises destroys their source of income.
While we were on the Me Kong we got to eat a lot of sea food, some delicious beef and green beans and some other great foods. On each island we experienced a different taste after our first big meal, from honey tea to coconut candy.
We visited an old temple for the coconut worshiping religion and we saw where the coconut candy is made, the farms the the vietnamese worked in, and the generally relaxed but hardworking people of the Me Kong Delta region.
All in all it was a pretty amazing day for me and the other students as we got to experience what life is like on the Me Kong, and further understand why we must attempt to protect it from both damming and salt water intrusion.