"Chau Doc, Vietnam" Chau Doc by DrewV
Chau Doc Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 126 photos
The world is full of border towns, those questionable little cities whose existence is justified solely by their proximity to an imaginary line drawn on maps and consciousnesses. Chau Doc might be defined in this context -- its streets rumble with the bustle of international commerce, and its substantial minorities thrive mere miles from the Cambodian border. Cambodian merchants brawl in its hotels. Boats ply up and down the river carrying cargo throughout the Delta and beyond.
But there's a bit more to Chau Doc than that. First off, a large portion of the city is on the river. Literally, on the river. Row upon row of houses float in a sheltered corner of the river, their foundations rising and falling with the regular delta floods. As a bonus, the floating city serves as a center for Vietnam's catfish industry -- each house contains cages of fish beneath the floorboards. The river flowing beneath brings constantly fresh water into the cage, remvoing some of the "bottom-feeding" aspects of American catfish.
Due to the quality of fish, Chau Doc has become ground zero in the US-Vietnam catfish conflict. American producers, unable to compete with lower Vietnamese prices, have lobbied (a nice way of saying "bribed") Congress into passing legislation that all "catfish" must be farm-raised from the Mississippi Delta region.
What does this mean to the folks in Chau Doc? That was my job to find out. Really. I came to the Delta to recommend strategies for the catfish producers and marketers to continue their exports to the United States. My advice was to continue selling catfish but under the Vietnamese name "basa" and at competitive prices to farm-raised catfish. So now, if you go grocery shopping and find "basa", think of the floating houses of Chau Doc.
- Pros: terrific floating city, great catfish
- Cons: rambunctious at night, rather dodgy
- In a nutshell: a classic Delta town
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