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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sugar Factory

The Vietnamese amaze me with their can-do spirit and share-ful culture.

The rural people on the Mekong delta keep saying they're poor but to me, they seem very wealthy indeed. Their lands are fertile and their rivers teem with life. Now that peace has come to Vietnam and the Vietnamese can raise chickens, ducks and a mind-boggling variety of fruits and vegetables, life looks happy on the Mekong Delta. Each family finds its own way to contribute. This one raises fighting cockerels. The other is good with ducks. Another makes great fish sauce. Yet another makes sugar. These mini industries produce with a hodge podge of machine parts that are put together by those with a rudimentary education... but they work well. We had visited a large scale sugar plant in Mauritius, which was completely automated. The farmers on the Mekong delta don't have the financial muscle to build such factories but they made do... and prosper thereby.

The 73 year old ex-Vietcong soldier and boss of the sugar plant.

This man has 7 kids... even more grandkids and a few great grandkids. He smiles broad and talks loud. I like him because he said my son looks handsome. After winning the war against the Americans, he settled on the Mekong delta and designed his own machinery to extract sugar cane juice. The vats of boiling juice are manually tended by his ample family... many sons and many daughters plus all of their kids. I am told that people often do that... the village mechanic will make machines to your design. If you have an idea, people in the village contribute their expertise to turn your idea into reality.

Our tour guide is dreaming of a thriving rabbit farm. He told us "I learnt how to care for rabbits from people in my village. Here... you only need to walk into the neighbour's house and ask a question. They will help, because they know that another day, they will need help and you will help them." The value of caring and sharing is what makes life rich in the Mekong delta. There is no such thing as patented process and intellectual property. Here, they teach each other how to live well and work smart... and then, it is up to the individual families to work hard and innovate upon what they have learnt, and share in their turn. This is the Crane and Turtle in action

The fresh sugar cane juice boiling.

The heat is supplied by burning rice husks

Huge mounds of rice husks

The sugar cane juice condenses into a delicious thick syrup that cools into huge cakes. I couldn't help it. I bought half a cake (2.5kg) of this delicious unrefined sugar.

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