Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fruit Gardens And Hammock Stands

One of the interesting niche businesses in Vietnam is the fruit garden. These are family run areas of a few acres covered with, obviously, fruit trees. Scattered around the gardens are seating areas tables and canopies. You sit down and they bring you fresh coconut to drink, and then you order plates of fruit to snack on. This was where I finally had my durian.

To get to a fruit garden, you take a small boat down a canal to the garden. The canals are lined with furit gardens and the boat driver takes you to the one he has a relationship with. This particular fruit garden was not particulary good. Most of the chairs were broken and we had to move around a few times. the fruits were slow in coming out. The insects were also starting to get thick by mid-morning.

Industrialization has been rough on this industry. Pollution and haze have impacted the quality of the fruit trees so close to Saigon. Also there are now many more types of recreation vying for the leisure market.

On the main highway to the Mekong Delta, we saw a lot of roadside stands that were a similar type of enterprise. Our guide called them "hammock cafes" for good reason. Each stand would have a grove of trees or a large thatched pavillion with rows of hammocks strung up. the patrons would come by and have refreshments or a meal served and then take a nap in the hammock.

It sounded like agreat idea, but I'm not sure it's a business ready for the go-go western world.

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