Visitors enjoying Southern specialities and folk songs
Since the 17th century, the fertile land in the North of the Tien River has been reclaimed and developed by generations of inhabitants into an area with rich rice fields, fruit gardens, and busy trade along the river banks. Gradually, the brisk market towns of My Tho and Go Cong emerged in the fertile Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta. This area is Tien Giang Province.
Taking a ride for 75km from Ho Chi Minh City along Highway 1A you will arrive at My Tho City, then going further you will visit Cho Gao and Go Cong Districts. Turning to Cai Lay and Cai Be Districts, you will see the My Thuan Bridge spanning the Tien River to Vinh Long Province. The second biggest cable-stayed bridge across the Tien River to Ben Tre Province, which is under construction, will replace the Rach Mieu Ferry. With asphalted roads running to all hamlets and a series of natural and man-made canals, Tien Giang Province has a convenient land and water-way transport system to all communes, districts and other provinces in the Mekong River Delta and to Ho Chi Minh City.
An area abundant in agricultural and aquatic products
Tien Giang Province is a granary. Apart from a stable output of 1.2 million tonnes of rice per year, of which more than 300,000 tonnes are for export, Tien Giang ranks first among the provinces in raising and providing pigs with a herd of more than 500,000 hybrid pigs that yield lean meat. Each year, the province provides 800,000-plus tonnes of fruits to domestic and foreign markets, ranking first in the output as well as fruit cultivation area (72,500 hectares). Many farmers specializing in growing mango, mangosteen, rambutan, star-apple, durian and longan trees apply high technology in selecting strains and in farming, which results in bumper harvests. The names of some fruit-growing areas in the province have become familiar brands, such as Hoa Loc mango (in Cai Be District), Vinh Kim star-apple (in Chau Thanh District), Go Cong cherry, Co Co shaddock, Tan Phuoc pineapple and Cho Gao blue dragon.
Tien Giang Province has many natural fishing grounds that yield high productivity. In recent years, the province has developed the raising of catfish, tiger prawns and other valuable aquatic products. In Go Cong District, fishermen, who were engaged in fetching oysters on the thick alluvial coast, have raised oysters on 2,000 ha of alluvial grounds that yield high output. Each year the whole province produces about 120,000 tonnes of aquatic products. Since 1990, the Province’s GDP has increased annually 10% and the export turnover in 2005 is estimated to reach USD 145 million.
An attractive tourist spot
It does not take much time to go from Ho Chi Minh City to Tien Giang Province. Visitors can take a cruise on the large Tien River or take a boat ride steered by a young girl wearing a loose-fitting blouse and a conical hat, through canals shaded by water coconut trees. They will have a chance to visit fruit gardens and enjoy the tastes of ripened fruit right off the tree. In Thoi Son Island, they will visit villages with orchards where they can taste the local traditional food prepared by villagers and enjoy a traditional opera performance, lovely songs and ditties of Southern Vietnam as well witness the making of local traditional handicrafts.
Going along the Tien River upstream, visitors will visit Cai Be floating market where hundreds of boats and canoes gather to sell and buy the local products. Along the banks of the river, service shops are always crowded with people. Sometimes there is clear bell ringing from Cai Be Church built in the early 20th century.
This year, Tien Giang Province is expected to receive more than 500,000 domestic visitors and 300,000 foreign tourists. In the atmosphere of an area criss-crossed with many rivers and canals as well as fruit gardens, they will visit historical relics, temples and pagodas, such as the cultural relic of Oc Eo in Cho Gao District and learn about the history of this area through valuable exhibits full of Phu Nam culture in the early Christian Era. They also visit the historical monument of the Rach Gam-Xoai Mut Victory, where they will be told about the renowned naval battle of national hero Quang Trung, and visit 200-year-old Vinh Trang Pagoda which has Asian-European architecture, to contemplate the quintessence of the sculptural art of Southern Vietnam.
There are other historical places, such as the royal mausoleum inscribed with the merit of the family of queen mother Tu Du, who was the grandmother of King Tu Duc, in reclaiming Go Cong area. Buu Lam Pagoda in My Tho City, where patriots Nguyen Sinh Sac and Phan Chu Trinh once stayed, is the most typical ancient work of the Viet people in the Southern plain in the 19th century. The provincial characteristics are also reflected through the festivals to commemorate the Ap Bac Victory and Nam Ky Uprising, the worshipping ceremony to honour national heroes Truong Dinh and Nguyen Huu Huan and the traditional festivals of the Viet, Khmer, Hoa and Cham ethnic groups.
Tien Giang Province also boasts Dong Tam snake-raising station that provides venoms for making medicines and an ecological zoo where different genes of rare and precious animals in the Southern area are conserved and there is a museum of almost all species of pythons and snakes in Vietnam.
Vietnam Pictorial - (24/04/2006)