The Mekong Delta is a low lying region crisscrossed by wide rivers and muddy streams. This is the region of the famous boat people, a community of nomads who spend much of the year on their brightly painted, flat bottomed fishing boats trolling the river for fish, wild vegetables and jobs.
It seems strange that durian, which generally grows best in the hills and highlands, would find its home among the rice fields and flood plains of the Mekong Delta. Yet according to statistics from the Southern Fruit Research Institute (SOFRI), 92% of the durian produced in Vietnam is grown here. I wanted to see if durian really can grow in such conditions, so Rob and I took a bus to My Tho, the tourist gateway to the Delta.
high price, like durian, would ease the rampant
poverty that afflicted the region.
susceptible to root rot and fungus, and doesn’t tolerate flooding.
That’s why when Nonthaburi province in Thailand was flooded last
November, only 7 of 470 hectares, or about 1.5 percent, survived the calamity.
|This yard of baby durian trees blurred as we whizzed by on motorbike|
The durian trees were planted in rows along a long canal crossed with narrow bridges. Shady and serene, the orchard felt more like a Japanese tea garden than a producing farm. In fact, Mr. Van doesn’t do as much with the fruit as he used to. He mostly deals in baby trees, spreading his famous variety throughout Vietnam.
All of southern Vietnam is suitable for growing durians. When the line between north and south was drawn at Hue, it might as well have been between those who grow durian and those who can’t. Rob and I don’t have time to visit everywhere, but I do want to get a taste of Vietnam’s highland durian. Tonight we’re headed to Dak Mil, a district in the Central Highlands.