Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Good Earth Revisited

I managed to avoid Pearl Buck during my high school reading assignments, but I think she would recognize the farming techniques still used in northern Vietnam.

Our day trip to Halong Bay occurred during the height of the rice harvesting season in the Red River delta that surrounds Hanoi. Rice fields that are normally empty were buzzing with activity as the local farmers harvested and replanted the rice crop. Everywhere were people wearing the blue farmer workshirts and the conical bamboo hats performing all the tasks associated with rice farming.

Nearly all the labor is by hand with the help of water buffalos and other domesticated cattle for plowing. The farmers cut the rice stalks with long knives and then bundle and gather the stalks up to a central location. The first round of threshing occurs on the side of the road. Water is hand-pumped into or out of individual fields with portable swing troughs on tripods.

The factory in the background of this picture shows that industrialization is coming to even these very rural areas of Vietnam.

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