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Best Vietnam Tours 2022 - 2023
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    Visiting Ca Mau Cape

    Cape Ca Mau feels like the end of the world. This southernmost point in Vietnam is a place where land, sea and sky mingle at the edge of mangrove forests teeming with wildlife.

    The name Ca Mau comes from the Khmer word kho-mau or “black water” which describes the fertile alluvial soil that covers the local beaches.

    From Ca Mau City, our speedboat moved quickly through an interlacing system of rivers and canals, with mangroves, mam (a local tree) and water-coconut trees jostling in the wind on both banks.
    Fishing villages dotted the shore, their roofs discoloured after many years of sun and rain. Small boats hung from wooden frames in front of many houses. These boats are the main means of transport in the Cape, just as urban Vietnamese rely on motorbikes.

    Every time our boat stopped at a wharf with a floating market, young male vendors quickly jumped to the roofs of their small boats to offer refreshments.

    I remember one tall, sun-tanned man in particular. He cried out a typical advertising slogan in the local accent, which I didn't quite understand. This moment left an impression for me about the poor but hard-working people in this southernmost region.

    After several hours of relaxing on the boat, we arrived at Rach Tau wharf and caught xe om (motorbike taxis) to travel the last few kilometres along a small paved road to the Cape.

    Both sides of the road were lined with shrimp farms and the smell of the local fish-sauce workshops wafted in the breeze. After passing through a high gate to enter the Cape’s Tourism Site, we walked on a paved road bordered by mangrove and mam trees.

    The 45.5ha Tourism Area was built in 2000 and put into operation a year later. It includes three key sightseeing spots: the National Co-ordinate Landmark, the Ca Mau Cape statue and an observation point.

    The National Co-ordinate Landmark is a low concrete block surrounded by walls. When it was first built, the landmark was close to the sea but it is now hundreds of metres from the coastline due to the 80-100m of alluvium deposited on the Cape each year.
    Not far from the landmark stands the imposing Cape Ca Mau statue, which is a ship heading out to sea and waving the national flag. “Ca Mau Cape, 8°37’30’’ north latitude, 104°43’’ east longitude” is written on the ship's sail in red.

    Standing atop the 20.5m tall platform, we were refreshed by the strong sea winds. From there we had a panoramic view of the entire Cape, with its peaceful green forests and blue seas.

    Forest life

    A Vietnamese proverb says Birds stay in peaceful lands. Indeed, Ca Mau is home to many fish and birds. Several areas of the forest are protected bird sanctuaries home to huge numbers of avian species.

    The creation of the Cape's forests is a slow process. First, mam roots emerge from beneath the surface of the beach. Alluvium clings to the roots, forming a layer of glutinous mud. The hot sun and southern winds dry the mud and gradually turn it into a soil that can support the growth of mangroves. The mangrove's open-air roots, which look like crab feet, keep the soil from being washed away by the tide, which sweeps away the mature mangrove fruit that fall from the trees. When the water recedes, the fruit are stranded on the mud beach where they grow into saplings. As time goes by, the mam and mangrove trees become full forests.

    Tour guide Nguyen Loc said the humus soil was very flammable. A smouldering cigarette butt thrown onto the soil on a hot sunny day could easily cause a large fire.

    Cape Ca Mau Tourism Cultural Area director Tran Minh Trieu said the Dat Mui Commune was used as a base for liberation forces during the American War. During large-scale US raids, the liberation soldiers were forced to hide in the mangrove forests.

    “Lacking food and fresh water, they were forced to boil salt water to get fresh water and cook mam fruit for sustenance, even though the fruit is very bitter,” he said.

    Trieu said the provincial tourism sector had renovated the resistance war relics, including a temple dedicated to Uncle Ho, a village inside the forest and the workshops where liberation forces boiled down salt water.

    “These relics will help visitors understand the sacrifices made by local people for national independence,” he said.

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