Tra Vinh      Ngoc Bien     Binh Ha Phoc    Mekong    Cu Chi & Cao Dai

Boys washing outside a Khmer Buddhist pagoda (Theravada) in Ngoc Bien commune, Tra Vinh province, Mekong delta.

The dominant group in neighboring Kampuchea (Cambodia), the Khmer are a sizable minority in the Mekong delta. They were in the majority here until the Vietnamese (Kinh) began moving south in the 19th century.

Upriver in Kampuchea the delta is still known as "Lower Kampuchea."

Young Khmer monk serving tea in the communal house next to a pagoda in a relatively well-off village.

For each village we visited, the first thing we did was to hook up with the local medical personnel. Then we paid a visit to the head monk, each of which offered us tea, beer, and sometimes fresh coconut milk and cigarettes.

Population Council interviewer and driver in the communal house, under portraits of the monks and donors involved in the recent renovation of the pagoda and construction of support buildings.

Several emigre sons have done well abroad and send donations back to their home village.

The sitting woman has just gotten her hair cut in a beauty shop in the other woman's home.
A family with several seamstresses in their home/shop.

Old woman with her betel nut kit--mixing this mild narcotic with lime & wrapping it in a leaf in preparation for chewing.

In Vietnam today betel chewing is mostly a habit of the older generations. The young prefer cigarettes.

Young students at a school built with funds sent from abroad by emigrants from this village.

Head monk of another village, with his pagoda behind him.

The pagoda in this village, less blessed than its neighbor with donations from overseas Vietnamese, the pagoda has not been renovated.

Boys, one a monk, opening coconuts to serve to guests.

Young Khmer monks living, for want of space, in a corner of a pagoda in a relatively poor village in Ngoc Bien commune.

Along with the Doi Moi reforms of the late '80s the government has allowed expanded freedom of religious practice, and the number of young men becoming monks has risen dramatically.

Curious men at a Khmer Buddhist pagoda (Theravada) in Ngoc Bien commune, Tra Vinh province.
Khmer hearse.

Serving lunch for guests from the Population Council. With an active amplified karaoke cafe on either side of this home/restaurant, lunch was incredibly noisy.

A fad for karaoke bars has swept through Vietnam in recent years. In the cities many of them are rather sleazy and not much singing actually goes on, but out here off-key Khmer ballads seemed to be a favorite midday pastime.

Tra Vinh      Ngoc Bien     Binh Ha Phoc    Mekong    Cu Chi & Cao Dai

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