Sunday, September 18, 2011

monkeying around

Shortly after I purchased my motorbike--it was off to the mangroves. The Cần Giờ Mangrove forest to be exact. It was about a 2 hour motorbike drive southeast from Ho Chi Minh City. ( I was not eligible to drive yet so I only rode on the back of someone's ). In order to get there, we had to take a ferry across the river. The other side of the river looked VERY different from Saigon. Very small town with very small houses that I would not want to be anywhere near if a typhoon was about to strike. We stopped for a delicious meal as soon as we arrived on the other side though.

other side of river

can someone explain the laws of physics that are allowing these houses to stand?

It was about another hour and a half of driving through tiny town after tiny town. I was curious about the fact that there would be people living in tiny shacks and then all of the sudden there would be an enormous mansion that just did not seem to fit in. I learned that the people living in the big houses were the people who owned the shrimp farms. Everyone else either worked for the shrimp farmers or had to fish on their own or pick another occupation -- neither of which rakes in any sort of cash. The problem with the shrimp farms though is that for the first few years, the shrimp farmer makes a fortune very quickly. After about 5-10 years, however, the shrimp get can get diseased easily if not taken care of properly and farmers abandon their farms and move on elsewhere. It is taking a huge toll on the environment since the ground needs to be made very firm in order for shrimp farms to work. If abandoned, the ground is utterly useless and nothing can grow there. I learned of a field called "aquaculture" in which research is done to help shrimp farmers keep their farms healthy. For example, they can keep lots of live plants in the water, or keep the water aerated with propellers.

shrimp farm 

industrial shrimp farm
fishermen (not shrimp farmers) -- fish fall into net held between the two wooden posts
Along the way, we stopped for some water coconut juice!! SOOOOOO GOOOOD. This is different than a regular coconut. If you are getting tired of driving, you simply stop off at one of the water coconut huts and take a rest or nap in one of the many hammocks they have hanging up and refresh yourself with some water coconut juice.

water coconuts

Step 1: Chip off a piece of the water cocount 
Step 2: Slice open piece of water coconut

Step 3: Scoop out pieces of delicious goodness

Step 4:  Select hammock where you would like to enjoy your water coconut juice
Step 5: Enjoy!
Our first step along the way was Monkey Island. It is exactly what it sounds like. A place for tourists to visit the monkeys in the wild. I almost feel as if the place is "too protected" because the monkeys are not scared of people whatsoever. Example 1: a cell phone was stolen right from the hands of a tourist we were with and the park ranger had to use a sling shot to get it back from the monkeys. Example 2: A hat was stolen from another guest we were with--he never got it back. Example 3: A monkey grabbed the Sprite can right from the hands of another person and chugged it.  It was unbelievable. I didn't get too many good pictures because I was so nervous they were going to steal my camera!
Monkey Island--enter if you dare...

showing off his hairdo
The park also had crocodiles on display. Way too many for one area if you ask me!

is he smiling at me :)
"excuse me, let me get that for you..."
baby monkey!!!!!!!

What is interesting about these mangrove forests is that the entire forest was destroyed by Agent Orange. The government invested in mangrove seeds and it was able to recover very quickly. A quick stop through the Mangrove Botanical Gardens demonstrated the life cycle of a mangrove.
trail through gardens 
mangrove seeds (long black/green things hanging) 
the seeds fall straight into the ground, stick straight up in the mud, and start sprouting
baby mangroves

crab that I thought was tarantula at first--Vietnam has an unknown amount of crab species--little research has been done on them

flourishing mangrove roots
recovering forests!

This post is getting rather long so I will stop here. I still have another day to discuss, but will be saving it for later. Toodles!

1 comment:

  1. whoa i have never seen water coconuts! now YOU teach me a thing or two about fruits! lets have dinner tonight :)