Coconut palms, the symbol of Ben Tre
Travelling by boats along rivers and canals intertwined under the shade of coconut trees in Ben Tre Province, you can enjoy traditional special dishes in its orchards and coconut gardens.
Ben Tre is a province that lies in the lowest part of the Mekong River Basin, some 85 km south of Ho Chi Minh City. Ben Tre Province is made up of three main islands wedged between the Tien Giang River to the north and to Co Chien River to the south with the Ham Luong River running straight down the centre. All are effectively offshoots of the Mekong River as it splits out into many fingers before spilling out into the Southern Asia Sea.
Verdant and flat, the province is mostly given over to rice and fruit cultivation. Traditional Mekong life is the norm here and it's a very unadulterated scene -- wandering the market, sipping the coffee, doing a boat trip and skipping through the local museum are the main pastimes.
Coconut palms has been seen as the symbol of Ben Tre ever since the early days of land opening in the Southern part. Famous for its coconut desserts, Ben Tre is suitably covered in coconut trees. During the war, these coconut trees were used to make coconut oil which was then used as a valuable substitute for kerosene. The province now has nearly 36,000 hectares of coconut woods. Even through years of fierce wars, coconut survived and stayed as close as a dear flesh-and-blood friend of the Ben Tre people. There was a time, many people in Ben Tre felled the tree for economic reasons, but have later been back with it because they realized it was with the coconut tree that their livelihood could be sustained for quite a long time. Today, Ben Tre's coconut area is approximately 36,000 hectares, yielding around 242 million nuts per year.
In Ben Tre, you have a chance to look at fine handicraft items made from coconut materials such as sandals, dolls, small baskets, bed lamps and vases. You can also watch how candy is made and taste it right at the workshops. If you take one of the tourist tours, you will be brought to some of the local shops. The most typical shop you will visit is coconut candy shop, a worker will explain you the process of making this product. At the end of the presentation, you can taste and buy the coconut candy.
Besides cononuts, Ben Tre is also the royal of others special fruits. Its area of orchards is around 41,000 ha, annually yielding 375,000 tonnes of fruits. The province also has a large number of famous speciality fruit trees, such as the milk yellow-meat and no-stone durian, the green-skin pomelo, the Cai Mon mangosteen, the high-yield Four Season mango, the special orange of Mo Cay, and tens of other specialities imported from other region or abroad.
Visiting Ben Tre, you can enjoy not only coconut candy and special fruits but also traditional crafts and folk culture, which are all the region's specific identity...