Today we traveled to the Mekong Delta to experience what it was like to live in a less developed area of the country. The min reason it is less developed is because it is the center for farming and fishing in the country due to the geographical location. Since this area is less developed than cities such as Saigon or Hanoi, it is a huge tourist attraction. Many tourists, including us, are intrigued in how the country maintained their lifestyle in the delta as the country developed around it. Obviously, there are signs of development in the area, such as tourist attractions and better living conditions, but for the most part, there are many aspects that remained how they always were. Using small boats to travel through the smaller rivers and using available resources to produce honey, chocolate, and coconut related treats are examples of keeping traditional processes. In the picture below, a woman is showing how to begin opening a coconut to use the several parts of it for milk, candy, water, and more.
As we traveled to different stops in the delta, we became aware of how the locals adapted to tourism becoming more common. There were locals set up trying to sell products to tourists which has become a normal part of the culture since tourism has developed the area. Although they were trying to get us to buy products, they were not as insistent on making sales compared to the vendors at the market we visited two days ago.
During lunch, I noticed one major thing about most of the dishes served: all of the foods had fish as one of the main ingredients. Even though I am not a fan of fish, I understand that it is a major part of the culture in the Mekong Delta due to the location and ease of fishing. When we learned about the damming much farther upstream in our classes at UEF, it was apparent that the culture that relies mainly on fish may suffer in the near future. If the damming upstream continues and more countries decide to do so, is it possible the fish population will greatly decrease and the minerals in the water will also be greatly affected. By stopping the water upstream, there will be less migration of substances between areas resulting in scarcer resources. Hopefully, the Mekong will be able to withstand the first dam being built and there will be minor consequences from it.
At one of our stops on the river, between learning about chocolate and coconuts, we were given the opportunity to hold a python. The delta allows an environment for the snakes to be bred to eventually be used for their skin and other parts. Although I am extremely afraid of snakes, I took the once in a lifetime opportunity to hold the python. Thankfully it only lasted a moment and I am still alive to tell the story. This Plus3 trip has allowed me to not only learn more about globalization of a rapidly developing country, it has given me many chances to grow as a person and do things out of my comfort zone. I wish we had 2 more weeks to experience more of what Vietnam has to offer.