Excellent Rob- thanks Did you get to see any of the smaller boats being built? JayInOz
Excellent Rob- thanks Did you get to see any of the smaller boats being built? JayInOz
Terrific Rob! Thanks again for posting all these! Looks like you had a great trip
Jay, I was in Viet Nam with my wife and on a relatively tight schedule so unfortunately didn't get to see that. Even in the Mekong Delta the boats I saw being built were the larger river junks. The wife is an excellent traveling companion and after 40 years of marriage is quite interested in a lot of things I follow, but this was her first time in northern Viet Nam and getting her into a boat shop was not on the schedule. She has visited a few boat shops and blacksmith establishments for me when home in the Mekong Delta, making wonderful photos and being quite proud of bringing those home to me in the US, but Ha Long Bay was a "whole new world" to her.
Understood Rob! My wife is also a great travelling companion but there are limits Actually I was talking to a friend the other day who was just about to drive her husband five hours down the coast so that he could attend a bicycle ride for the weekend. I asked her if she had any interest in it or was just bored to death at all these events- she replied that she didn't mind at all- he has a well paid job and she has a black belt in shopping JayInOz
A lot of people in these pictures wear surgical masks, why is that?
I do enjoy all of your posts. I am glad you keep them coming!
Last edited by Mattie82; 02-27-2012 at 01:18 AM.
Rick, but then they all wear hats, wide brimmed hats, so they don't get sun on their face anyway. You're probably more correct for the reason they wear masks, but how effective the things are whether for dust or sun is something I wonder about. Then you will see them dress their little kids up with masks in December and January up north in Ha Noi to take them on the xe may [scooters] when there isn't any sunshine for eight to ten weeks, that must be for cold and fumes and health, can't be to prevent tans. It is true though, men don't generally wear masks.
That's right about wrapping the kids up and putting the masks on. But, the women wear the full wrap to keep the sun off. We're not talking about preventing sunburn - it's about preventing any darkening at all. They're very aware of the tanning qualities of reflected light. This is not my conclusion - it comes from the people I worked with there for 4 years.
Oh well, it's also a fact that the women do a lot of the really heavy work in Viet Nam. During the war you could be pretty sure that a lot of the large construction equipment operators on civilian contract construction were women. You would think that female laborers would be less concerned with beautiful pale skin, but Rick, you are correct...though I've never seen a Vietnamese woman who has as pale a complexion as is fashionable with Japanese women. The face masks have a very short history in Viet Nam: I have yet to see one in use on the early 20th century and late 19th century photos that I collect.
Anyway, there is a very large brick industry in the Mekong Delta. When I was there in the early 70s I saw very few brick kilns, but during my visit in December I saw hundreds. The clay, the fuel and the bricks are all transported by junks along the waterways. From what I saw little wood is used for fuel, and that is mostly from the frequent repeated harvesting of small trees. Mostly it seems that rice chaf is used...and the Mekong Delta has plenty of that. I don't know yet where the clay is dug from, but will eventually find that out.
Loading a river junk from a brick yard, little women with loads of bricks down a springy plank and into the hold. You can wonder how they keep their balance with such a load but see from the broken bricks along the bank that many times they don't. These women aren't using an A-frame like that used in Korea to carry heavy loads.
Where else can you carry such a load than behind you ?? That's the only way you can see where you're going, along that narrow plank.
From the junk below, men are unloading bricks for the construction of a new kiln, so all of the heavy labor is not done only by women.
I will post more images of the brick industry and the river junks so essential to transportation of its materials and products.
Last edited by Mattie82; 02-27-2012 at 09:00 AM.
Some of the images are things ashore seen from the water, which is all part of the adventure of boating. A few of these will give some idea of the extent of the brick industry in the Delta. Going onto Google Earth and looking down at the river banks from an elevation of 1000 feet [about 300 meters] the resolution is very good and there are several locations where the numbers of kilns are almost without count. The following are some of the "vistas" of collections of kilns in various locations in the Delta. All of the brick yards are close to the water. The first one is of the brick yards at Sa Dec, easily reached by road from Sai Gon. The next two are fairly remote if traveling by road.
And some of the junks in use for fueling these brick yards...
That's it for this morning. We were able to get ashore and into a couple of the brick yards so I have an entire album of photos of the brick industry but will limit the images from that: boats not bricks.
Thanks for sharing all these great pics and stories, Rob. Absolutely fascinating. Keep 'em coming.
The shirts with built in gloves and hoods are new too. I think the masks grew with the transfer from bicycles to motorbikes. Women always wore the conical hats on bicycles and, of course, many still do, but large hats just aren't compatible with motorbikes. Up until late 2008 when helmet laws were enforced much more strictly, you saw very few Vietnamese anywhere wearing helmets but most women wore small brimmed hats during the day, especially younger women. I don't know this but my guess would be that as face masks became common in Hanoi and Saigon, as women sought to prevent their faces, particularly noses, from darkening when out on the motorbike, the young women still riding bicycles and working the fields etc. in the rural areas, also took up this practice. In dusty areas and in the rice fields during harvest, you see many women wearing the masks and there's no doubt that this helps to keep dust out of airways but along all the canals and rivers, where there's no dust at all, on every city street during the day, many if not most, and certainly most young women, are wearing the masks. With the new helmet laws after 2008, we saw a big rise in masks and hoods as brimmed hats were replaced with helmets. For those not familiar with VN, I should point out that full-face helmets are quite uncommon in VN, especially in the cities and towns. Almost everyone wears a light, foam skull-cap type helmet (Vietnamese call them rice-cookers). These are adequate for the low-speed traffic in most parts of VN. Sadly, they're useless on the higher speed roads.The face masks have a very short history in Viet Nam: I have yet to see one in use on the early 20th century and late 19th century photos that I collect.
Rob, I visited a couple of brickworks in the north as I too was fascinated by this industry. I have a few photos taken of people loading the kilns, if you'd like to see them, and I would very much like to see some of yours. I don't think there'd be any objection to us posting a few less nautical pictures on this thread would there?
Oh, I already posted some brick kiln photos - see #118 Over to you Rob!
Last edited by RFNK; 02-27-2012 at 09:49 PM.
I mentioned using Google Earth in the last posting to locate the concentrations of brick and terra cotta kilns in the Mekong Delta and want to show a few to illustrate my "mention". I've added texts and arrows pointing out features to the images. Those of you familiar with Viet Nam will recognize the locations. This first one shows the location of an extensive area of kilns on one of the shores of the channel which connects the northern [Tien Giang] and southern [Hau Giang] branches of the Mekong.
The next two are details of the first one. When you know what to look for the kilns and drying fields can be easily recognized.
This one will show the brick works on an island across from Sa Dec with a closer view also:
And finally a small brick works on the river below Can Tho:
You can go into Google Earth with the coordinates on the bottom of each image and can virtually tour the area yourself and you can easily see that all the brick yards are located on or very close to the river system, the easiest and cheapest transportation for a bulky and heavy product.
Last edited by Mattie82; 02-28-2012 at 02:06 AM.
Thank you so much Mattei, and also Rick and Ian, for posting these beautiful pictures, and also documents, from my now adoptive country.
I do not travel much nowadays anymore, and have never been a great photographer either (only recently had a nearly decent "compact" camera, besides the few "throw-away I only had before...!), and sorry that I do not contribute to this wonderful thread.
Thank you again, guys
"Homme libre, toujours tu cheriras la mer" (Charles Baudelaire)
Khong co gi anh!
Before posting this I need to point out that "Mattie82" is the same person as "Mattie64". When I tried to log back in after a year, the machine wouldn't recognize my password so I had to re-register.
To continue with a few more brick industry related observations and photos: in the previous posting with all the Google Earth images, the distance between the two ends of that red arrow pointing out the brick kiln lined bank is a bit over 3 miles, or just over 5 kilometers.
From the river a woman piling bricks out in lines to ship, but the lines of un-fired bricks drying in the sun are much more numerous in the brick works. Those lines of un-fired bricks are very evident from the air [Google Earth] but I hadn't realized what they were until actually visiting a brick yard on this recent trip.
Zooming out to give an idea of the extent of the task:
And to include a couple of craft on the river, remembering "boats not bricks"...
Then from a landing we made during a short boat excursion out of Can Tho. We were passing a brick yard on the way upriver and I asked the boat-driver to set us ashore for awhile at the place, where we spent over an hour poking around learning about the business of making bricks...
This should be enough on the brick industry, probably more than what you wanted to know...but if not then let me know and I can direct you to an additional couple of hundred photos I made of the brick works.
Last edited by Mattie82; 03-01-2012 at 06:42 AM.
Some random boat photos in the Mekong Delta, from the boat, from the shore, from this past December...
A market-sampan at the Long Xuyen quay:
Pulling in fish nets on the Ong Chuong Canal:
Farming on the Cu lao Tay floodplain, with the market boat moored awaiting cargo:
From the bridge at Cho Moi:
Working bamboo and rattan on the banks of the Ong Chuong Canal:
And a boatyard / shipyard "teaser to insure that you will be back for more....
The "eyes have it"...Various look-aheads on different boats around the western Mekong Delta
[well, this first one is trying to look around her nose]
And this one...all you want to see is the look-aheads anyway, right ??
Very interesting, thanks. That first landscape photo in post 221 looks like a Vermeer painting, nice.
RESIST. FIGHT THE POWER.
I got a few photos of lumber mills in the Ong Chuong Canal from the sampan trip up to Cho Moi from Long Xuyen, so will post some of these in one or two groups. The logs are floated in and sunk in place. The saws are those traveling band saws that run on a couple of tracks, cutting slabs from the top down. They've been in use here in Viet Nam all through the 20th century, introduced by the French.
The mills on the canal all had some sort of overhead lift to pick the logs out of a narrow slip and ready them one-at-a-time for the saw.
And it seemed as if a lot of the boat yards were right next to saw mills, logically.
Then on to another group...
One of the mills was loaded on a barge, tracks and all, so could float to the logs if a stationary mill was overloaded or if a small lot was in the offing. Wouldn't mind having a scow-rig like this myself...and logs like these sufficient to last the rest of my days...
And a couple of last images of the inventory at one yard...
Then some scenery from the sampan: out on the big river, Song Hau Giang off of Long Xuyen, An Giang Province...
Low water dwelling on the flood plain of Cu Lao Tay...
Playing around with an image to emphasize the boats, which were lost in busy detail otherwise...
These are great Rob. It closes a bit of a gap for me. In the years I was in VN, I never saw any large timber mills or forests of larger trees. I saw a lot of timber cutting and milling, and plywood manufacturing, in the north but all with fairly small timber. I assume the logs you saw were floated down from Laos and Cambodia in the main - is that right?
Great photos thanks Rob-a little window to another world
This morning some more random impressions from the water / around the water in the Mekong Delta. First a confusion of boats on the river at Long Xuyen....
And less confused....
And should you need cordage, then several vendors hold forth in the market...
Out of town and on the River and the canals...
What the heck, too much traffic crossing the bridge to town at this time in the morning anyway, so I will post a few more random images from the Mekong Delta...
Fishing and farming, farming and fishing; what they'd call in Tidewater, Virginia, [USA] a "waterman's life"
Washing up after breakfast, on the Ong Chuong Canal...
Under the bridge to Cho Moi...
And boats, always boats. This at one of the innumerable fish farms. Looking down on the Delta with Google Earth the sides of many of the channels look as if there is dust on the water from so many of these floating buildings...
Even the tugboats have eyes...
That's it for now. Regards...Rob
One modern boat in all these pictures. Do yachts visit this area at all?
I haven't spent enough recent time in the Delta to answer that truthfully. I know that there are several companies offering tours by boat, leaving from Saigon, My Tho or Cai Be, from overnight to several days, with destinations as different as going to Phnom Penh or other places in Cambodia, or to a couple of different towns on the river in the lower Mekong. Perhaps with the right connections a yacht might be able to penetrate the Delta and travel. For my taste and purposes I'd rather not take a company tour but would be more apt to charter a local boat. There are steel cargo boats now transporting rice and fuel, and I even saw two steel junks built on the lines of the traditional wood junk. I saw three fiberglass runabouts on the western model, but also saw a few fiberglass canal boats, long and shallow with a transom but having the square red "landing" bow built over traditional eyes, boats pushed by the long tailed engines. Woodenboat forum, so I've posted mostly traditional wood boats. Hope this helps.
I really like the way these waterpeople decorate their boats with eyes, and the reasons for doin so.
That is why I carved some into my boat. How else would she make it home when I cannot see?
..don't judge a man till you've walked a mile in his shoes..
Regarding a steel junk, I will post one here, along with a photo of one of the fiberglass canal boats. You can see that the traditional bow is rendered fairly well in steel and in plastic also. Someone makes the canal boats as a production item as there was a builder's plate in the one I saw, and I have seen some photos of the same hull and color scheme on other websites.
and the canal boat...
Then to redeem myself on the site I will post some images of sampans inside the locks on Cu lao Tay, with a closeup to give structural details
That's five for this morning. Next posting will involve the fishing and fish farming on the branches of the Mekong River.
As far as modern boats go, there are shops along the delta canals with stacks of fiberglass narrow, longtail boats for sale. Around Saigon, Ca Mau, Can Tho and the other larger centres, you see quite a few modern, small speedboat designs with outboards. I saw one very dilapidated fibreglass yacht in Nha Trang and I know there is a guy in Da Nang who has a modern catamaran who takes tourists out to Cham Island. I never saw any visiting cruising yachts during the years I was in VN but you'd expect there must be some. With the growth of sailing in China and Malaysia, I expect it won't be too long before there are many. The shifting mud banks of coastal VN could be a real limiting factor though, I think. Currently, I'd expect Vietnamese bureaucracy would be a real headache for visiting yachts too.
Lots of different kinds of fishing in the Mekong Delta. Lots of fish-farming and pounds. As I've written, in places from the air the number of floating fish houses looks almost like dust on the water.
On the Hau Giang River at and below Long Xuyen, with the long scattering of floating houses parallel to the banks...
On the water these comunities look like this...
In the following image note the plank taken out of the hull. This is done on both sides and it seems that older junks are used for this. Galvanized screen wire is stretched across the empty plank "runs" and the boats when ballasted deep serve as fish pounds, I think from what I saw as transportation to the markets for the fish kept in the floating house pounds.
Continued in the next posting...
To continue with the fish farms....
Another boat with screen substituted for a plank on either side, to be used for transportation of live fish...
Then one of these boats being prepared for use...this being done on a canal behind Long Xuyen. Note that the bottom is clad in some sort of sheet metal...
Other fishing stuff in a later posting....
I see in post 241 those sampans lack gunwales and inwales, much like an Adirondack guide boat. Since these sampans see hard use, and since gunwales stiffen the sheer so much, you'd think they would have such a feature. Interesting. Thanks for posting.
RESIST. FIGHT THE POWER.