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February 17, 2004

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Several hundred years ago, Cambodia controlled the Mekong delta. Once part of the Khmer kingdom, this was the last area conquered by an expanding Vietnam. Until 1979, the Cambodian government officially called the region lower Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge launched raids into Vietnam to regain old territory. This led to a short war between the countries in the late 70's. Vietnam prevailed and so the Mekong delta flies the red flag with a yellow star.
Remember the Chams? They were an old kingdom of central Vietnam that were scattered and assimilated by invading Vietnamese centuries ago. A Cham minority, Muslim, lives in the delta, conducting business in front of their stilt houses and gossiping about tourists that take their picture.
A Mekong delta bridge, called a 'monkey bridge,' because it requires acrobatics to cross. Logs are lashed together, balance beam style, and then suspended high over the ground for flood protection.