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You are here:      Home News Where romance lingers
Where romance lingers

lang Hoa Kieng Sa DecSa Dec Town in Dong Thap Province has the increasingly valuable charm of town not overly commercialized, enhanced by its romantic history

A vision of gardens in bloom greets visitors to Sa Dec Town as the build-up begins towards Tet (Lunar New Year), the most important national holiday.

Countless numbers of boats and junks laden with the vibrant colors or thousands of flowers and ornamental plants clog the local canals. They jostle their way to different gardens and orchards.

Like the Cai Mon Orchard in Ben Tre Province, or the garden houses in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap District, Sa Dec has been a major source of locations even beyond the southern region. The town comes alive during these busiest days of the year. However, Sa Dec still manages to remain tranquil, gently assisted by the dreamy roads that formed the backdrop for “The Lover_ (L’amant) by French novelist Marguerite Duras. The former house of Huynh Thuy Le, the wealthy Chinese man who captured the heart of 15 year-old Duras still stands. It is painted white and adorned with bold flowery decorations. The slow-notion streets bring us back to those days when Duras’ mother was teaching at the Trung Vuong Sa Dec Primary School. It is wonder that Sa Dec manages to stay outside the bustle of a growing southern town. Located only about three hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City, the town near the banks of the Tien Giang River seems to flow in its own rhythm. There is no traffic congestion like in Ho Chi Minh City or surrounding urban areas; neither are their strains of the “don ca tai tu” (traditional folk music of the south) coming from floating restaurants in Can Tho.

Instead, Sa Dec intrigues visitors with its abundant blooms and placid waterways. A line of small boats float alongside water lilies on the small river. They carry fruits, vegetables and even construction materials.

While the famous Cai Mon Orchards in Ben Tre Province tends to grow large bonsai trees or apricots, Sa Dec farmers focus on smaller flowers like roses and daisies. Some garden house owners have even learned the techniques of growing orchids from Da Lat to cultivate varieties that can withstand the heat of the southern region.

Hard working Sa Dec farmer make it possible for flowers from the town to bloom in all their glory in the grand festival arrangements on Nguyen Hue Street in Ho Chi Minh City as well as in other regions throughout the country.

Unlike other cities where streets or balconies are decorated with flowers, Sa Dec welcomes flower lovers to whole fields scattered in the suburban area and in the gardens of Tan Qui Dong Flowers Gardens (about three kilometers from Sa Dec), where horticulture has been a tradition for many generations. Visitors on their way to Cao Lanh (the capital of Dong Thap Province) cannot resist stopping by the fields that teem with daisies, apricot blossoms, roses, orchids and many other flowers.

In “The Lover”, the writer dose not de scribe the flowers in great detail, but readers cannot forget the image of small tree-lined roads and the river bank that noon only to be awakened by school girls in ‘ao dai’.

Sa Dec is no longer home to the rickshaw of 19th century cars, but the riverbank still evokes the same image. The sounds of the market merge into the smell of incense coming from nearly pagodas and Chinese club-houses.

From a stretch of light passing through the roof of the pagoda or a roll of smoke swirling from the burning incense sticks, the Chinese pagodas in this region stir mixed emotions – between sound and silence, the real and the unreal, the spiritual and the mundane. The Ba Thien Hau Pagodas is still the place where traders come to pray for good businesses, and the curved roofs and Pagoda, built by the Chinese between 1924 and 1927, never fail to impress the devout as well as the agnostic.

Adding to the picture-perfect charm of Sa Dec are brick-kilns along the river. Very few people actually manage to pass through the labyrinthine looking roads along the canal that cut through the villages to reach to brick kilns. Going inside one is like visiting a devastated Cham tower. There is an eerie or profound – take your pick – silent space under the curved roof of the kiln that is not dispelled by the blazing heat of baking bricks, the sweat of the workers, or the innocent smiles of children playing nearby.

If you allow it, Sa Dec, with its history of romance and its rustic charm, will script a love for you, too.


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