Our guest house in Tra Vinh is owned by an American man Ben and his wife Quin. Quinn told us the story about a lake about 5km from the city centre called the Beautiful Lake - Ao Ba Om on the map. The story goes that a man and woman are speaking about strength and the man says that men are able to build great and beautiful things which demonstrates the strength of man. The woman organised all of the women in her village and they create a great lake with a pagoda in the centre and she tells the man "You see? Women can build great and beautiful things better than men". We are sitting by the lake now and it is beautiful. This proves my earlier point that women in this country are industrious and strong just like their men. From our observations, their relationships are strong too and seem equitable in most ways. It is such a lovely way to live!
The pagodas here in Tra Vinh are surrounded by very tall trees. Because the area is sacred, there is no clearing for farming. People still have coffee shops, food vans etc. outside but not in the grounds of the pagodas. The buildings are surrounded by man made canals and are painted in gold with blue and green glass inlay. It is very pretty and when we were there, the children from the Buddhist school were playing hide and seek around the statues. There is a sense of joy and calm about the place.
Ben is an English teacher and said he would help me to find work wherever we decide to settle. He and Quinn have been so hospitable and took us out for dinner and showed us the places to go. We have decided to stay for a while longer to see some of the sights but are planning to leave early tomorrow morning to try to reach Can Tho by evening (about 62km). If you are in Tra Vinh, I cannot recommend the XO Hotel strongly enough.
The trip from Mo Cay to Tra Vinh was about 26km including two ferries and some back roads so we will need to cover double that for the next leg. The roads have been incredibly flat so it doesn't feel like much work (which is good because neither of us are cyclists). It is good having bikes to tour around town when we aren't trying to get to somewhere else. We could easily follow Quin and Ben on their motorcycle and when my pedal fell off, there was a man on the side of the road to tighten the bolt back up (we gave him a little money for his efforts but he did not want to charge us) so we could be back on our way in no time. The Mekong Delta so far is very bicycle friendly.
I will write more when I have more to say :)