Sa Dec

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Where I stayed
Bong Hong Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  , Ðồng Tháp,
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sa Dec

With such a success in the markets capturing interesting images the previous afternoon the group elected to spend another hour in the morning photographing in early morning light. These markets had a few extra items for sale than those of previous markets visited, namely field mice and skinned frogs.

After our hotel breakfast we were back on the bus for our next venture. We passed a Vietnamese army camp and Long, our guide, explained that all Vietnamese males when they leave high school (or deferred until university studies are completed) must serve eighteen months in the army. This used to be four years when Long completed his University education. Women can volunteer if they so wish.

We stop at an area where the ground is covered with red chillies, set out on mats in the open sun for drying. We naturally clamber from the bus to capture such as sight. We stop on several occasions to capture images of the local people and their culture.

We arrive at Tram Chim, a white stork and bird sanctuary. We board a small narrow motor boat to enable us to travel the restricted canals around the sanctuary.

I act as look out, pointing to birds as we approach so that the group may have the opportunity to photograph as the birds take-off, disturbed from their feeding due to the sound of our motor boat. Our local guide picks several lotus flowers both in bloom and bud from the waterway so that the group may photograph these beautiful flowers close at hand. We stop at a tall observation point where some climb the structure to gain a panoramic view of the country side surrounding the Sanctuary.

Next we are back on the bus and travelling to our next destination, the Rung Tram (Gao Giong) forest. However we make several stops to photograph the canals, people and housing along the way once again.

We are unable to use out bus transport to get to Rung Tram because of the narrow roads, so we board a river cargo boat converted for our use with seats to travel the waterways to the forest. This change enables a much smoother travel than by road, coupled with the opportunity to photograph along the way. Our group is starting to appreciate river boat transport and how the mighty Mekong is extensively used.

We arrive at Rung Tram and the group settles down for lunch.

I must remember to advise my guide that deep fried frog's thighs might be best left off the menu for our future trips.

Although quite tasty, most would have preferred another menu item and certainly something with far less small bones.

The group pair up and settle in small canoes, each with a lady dressed in traditional Vietnamese costume to act as a paddler. The canoes travel through one of the last remaining natural forests in Vietnam. During the Vietnam-American conflict this area hosted several Northern Vietnamese commanders within the dense undergrowth.

Following the canoe ride (and some of the group with 'numb bums’) we climb aboard our much more comfortable cargo vessel to travel back along the river to our awaiting bus. The light at this time of the afternoon is ideal for photography and being also the time when many Vietnamese choose to bath and wash in the canal, many an image was captured as we travelled the winding waterway through the farm area.

Arriving by bus at the Bong Hong Hotel in Sa Dec, we shower and settle down for an enjoyable dinner and to discuss the day’s events.
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