Nov 27, 2014
Boatride Through the Mangrove Forest of Tri Ton, Vietnam
GPS waypoint: 10°29'03.7"N 104°49'09.1"E
Location: Tri Ton, An Giang Province, Vietnam
After leaving Phu Quoc and en route to Chau Doc, our group leader made an impromptu decision to take us on a detour to the mangrove forest of Tri Ton. It's actually along the way to Chau Doc. We just veered out of the highway and followed a parallel dirt road that took us to the mangroves.
Mangrove Forest in the Middle of a Rice Field
Since this 3.4km2 square forest (2.1km X 1.6km) lies in the middle of a vast rice plantation, I could imagine the entire area to be a mossy forest with dense mangrove before it was cultivated for rice production. The authorities somehow spared this area and preserved it. Already, it's a thriving bird sanctuary.
The narrow dirt road within the forest was more of an elevated causeway lined up with trees with the swamp left and right of us. This took us to the center where we could rest for lunch. Other locals who looked like employees of a nearby office were also there taking their lunch. There is also a 7-storie observation tower you can climb up to. The top offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
Apart from the eating facility, boat rides are offered to the inner reaches of the mangroves. Tuyen and I availed of it. It was a stunning odyssey into the myriad of canals and passageways as we meandered along the rich swampy ecosystem full of mature mangrove trees. It was a 2-leg boat ride, first with a motor and the second boat was the paddle-type. The paddle-type was more like it as it was not noisy, no pollution and you feel your connection more with the surroundings.
The biggest beneficiary of this ecosystem are really the big birds. You cannot imagine a better a place for them - isolated and free from human poachers, abundance of food and absence of predators. Many nests could be found on top of the trees - they are thriving. I can't imagine how many bird species call this home. You hear bird calls of different sounds - it's almost a symphony of bird calls (not really chirping as most of the birds here are sizeable...pigeon size).
On the Road
The mangrove forest was really just a rest stop. Having filled our bellies, we were back on the road for our final destination before the group splits up - Chau Doc.
- Tri Ton is 44 kms to the west of Chau Doc and about the same distance to the east of Ha Tien, the 2 closest city neighbors
- Tri Ton keeps a sacred mountain named Seven Mountains where Buu Son Ky Huong monks live
- Tri Ton was a scene of the Ba Chuc massacre by the Khmer Rouge in 1978 - this together with many incursions of the Khmer Rouge into Vietnam prompted the Vietnamese to invade Cambodia
- Tri Ton has the leanest population in the An Giang Province
- the Mangrove Forest is almost halfway between Ha Tien and Chau Doc along the highway. You can take any bus plying this route. However, I am not sure if there are XeOms for hire at the junction to take you inside the forest.
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- Vietnamese smokers used to smoke in air-conditioned establishments, air-conditioned buses packed with people including women, children and babies. But this habit seems to be changing now.
- Vietnam ranks almost the same as Thailand and Cambodia for cheap price. Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia cost more
- internet speed is generally fast and reliable but during important events like Tet holiday, election, etc., it slows down
- Vietnamese generally do not speak or understand much English. It will be a challenge.
- only Vietnamese Dong is accepted as legal tender (change your dollars into Dong)
- best to dress appropriately, not revealing too much skin (Saigon is an exception - the ladies there set the trend in very short shorts)
- remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship
- ask first before taking someone's picture. If they say no, don't persist or offer money
- best to carry your hotel's business card with you when going out. You can just show it to the cab driver or XeOm driver if they don't understand English
- leave your valuables, passport, travel tickets, etc. with the hotel's safety deposit box
- when lying down, don't point your feet or the soles of your shoes to anyone or to a family altar
- carry only enough cash for your needs that day
- don't lose your temper in public - Vietnamese people are warm, generous and polite. They look down on people who lose their composure
- don't take pictures of military installations
- refrain from taking videos of minority people until permitted to do so
Nov 27, 2014
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