NOSTALGIA FOR THE FLOODING SEASON
In mid-September when muggy heat of summer has no longer existed in the South Vietnam, it is the time my countryside in the southwestern region enters into the flooding season, which has been deeply attached to the childhood of mine and my friends at the same age as an impressive and unforgettable reminiscence.
In spite of having lived in the city for over ten years, I have felt much of nostalgia whenever hearing any news of flooding season on the mass media. I called my mother at home by telephone, and she said that water rose to the veranda, reached to knee in the garden. My father and younger brothers were preparing a small boat, some fishing nets and other fishing tools to look for happiness in the flooding season. I heard so and was every eager as if I was still a small child, desiring to leave behind any work and return my countryside in the flooding season.
Situated in An Giang province, at the riverhead of Mekong River, my countryside is flooded at the earliest in comparison with other provinces in the Mekong River Delta. Annually, in September, water from the upper reaches floods as quick as lightning. Even it rises below the river bank in the morning, but at noon it has overflowed on veranda behind the kitchen.
Local people do not use the word “rising water” but simply call it “flooding season” because wherever water rises, it causes flooding at that place. Every family in my countryside quickly harvests crops, then prepare fishing nets, and other fishing tools to catch shoals of fish moving from the upper reaches. For over a month, my countryside’s market-place is full of specialities including: Linh fish, snakehead fish, catfish, anabas, eel, tortoise, snake…and cork flowers, nenuphar flowers…any redundant fish that can not be used up will be salted or dried for later use.
After school, we often got away from naps after lunch to go fishing then pick field-nenuphar flowers for my mother to cook sour soup. Field-nenuphar flower was green white, thin and long, not as big as violet nenuphar flower sold in the market-place. However, only about ten sterns of field-nenuphar flowers peeled then cooked with some field-anabases, added with some basil and hot red pepper would bring about an extremely delicious bowl of sour soup. Field-anabas was only a little bit bigger than two fingers, its meat was very tasty, not fat and unsavory as those sold in the market-place. Field-anabas was deliciously cooked in different dishes such as clay-pot-caramelized dish, spicy anabas with peppers, sour soup, or fried anabas. I was specially interested in spicy anabas with fresh tamarind, some sour and pungent spices, dipped with sour salted cork flowers or nenuphar flowers soaked with tamarind vinegar. Thinking of it, I am still hungry.
Another speciality that not everyone dares to try is snake. When the field is flooded, snake no longer has many shelters and has to look for food and trapped in nets. Snakes (Enhydris) processed, salted and fried or torn to make Goi (raw meat eaten with spicy vegetables) is as delicious as chicken meat. Tasty Linh fish, cork flower soup with bitter flavor or roasted field-mouse…all is a rustic and delicious party that is impressively unforgettable.
In this season, Tra Su cajuput forest in my countryside seems to have been flooded, and covered on the water surface by green duckweed. Sitting on a small boat and slowly rowing, I seemed to enter into another extremely fresh world. Each sparkling sunbeam shined though forest canopies and reflected on the green water surface. In the airy and cool place with cajuput fragrant flowers, it was the lively world of rare birds such as: stork, heron, little cormorant, tailorbird, teal, waterfowl,…naturally flying regardless of the presence of strange visitors. Young birds were exercising flying, other birds were looking for food in the bush, or flapping and flying over trees…every one of us absorbedly observed them.
Every time of traveling here, I often stood at the view-tower to contemplate the panorama of the primeval forest. Under evening clouds, each flock of birds flied back to their nests, I felt peaceful and very familiar. From afar, the gigantic Cam mountain peak with a giant Buddha statue as sketchy lines in the wonderful natural picture made An Giang countryside more beautiful.
Especially, I can hardly ignore rustic meals cooked by local people. At the first sight, such meals looked simple, such as: chicken roasted with forest bee honey, broiled snakehead fish, Linh fish cooked with cork flowers, field-nenuphar flowers soaked with vinegar, raw fish with vegetables, fried chitala, broiled loach…but when enjoying such foods in a thatched hut in the immense pristine natural landscapes, certainly it would be impressively unforgettable in your mind.
Currently in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietravel is offering a tour to visit Tra Su forest in the flooding season in combination with the travel itinerary Chau Doc – Ha Tien – Rach Gia – Can Tho (4 days), price: VND 2,990,000. This is good news for those living in cities and adjacent areas and desiring to discover specific cultural – gastronomic beauty of the southwestern region.
- “CHAU DOC – FLOATING FISH-CAGE VILLAGE – TRA SU ECOLOGICAL RESORT – HA TIEN – RACH GIA – CAN THO” TOUR (4 days)
All-in price: VND 2,990,000
Date of departure: On Thursday every week
190 Pasteur, ward 6, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (08) 3822 8898 – Ext: 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237
Hotline: 0939 658 688
And Vietravel's branches and offices nationwide
Or visit our online booking website at www.travel.com.vn
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