An Giang welcoming flood from the upper stream of the Mekong River.
Born in 1966,photographer Huynh Phuc Hau grew up in Chau Doc City in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang.
Aside from being a passionate photographer, he also works at the An Giang General Hospital. He received the title of Vietnam Photographic Artist in 2009 and held a solo exhibition on An Giang in the flood season in 2016.
The following photo collection was conducted in many years, introducing the public to the vast fields in Chau Doc and Tinh Bien in An Giang in the flood season.
In the flood season, fish and shrimp coming downstream to the rice fields, which present ideal opportunities for a fruitful catching season. In the photo, a young boy is catching fish as the sun sets in Chau Doc.
A young boy catches fish as the sun sets in Chau Doc
Cows strolling along the Tha La canal in Chau Doc.
When this photo was taken, the water level in the fields was low as the Tha La dam had not yet released water. An Giang also holds the famous Bay Nui annual cow racing competition from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 on the lunar calendar. However, the competition was postponed in the past 2 years due to Covid.
Duck raised on the flooded fields in Nhon Hung commune of Tinh Bien rural district.
The flood comes, bringing alluvial soil to An Giang and taking away the alum earth. Meanwhile, the rice left after harvesting and the snails living on the rice fields are a rich source of nutrition for ducks.
According to Phuc Hau, each photo is a story in itself. In the photo below, a couple is harvesting water lillies in the Vinh Te canal of Chau Doc City, close to the border with Cambodia. Since early morning, they arrive in Vinh Te on a motorboat to harvest the flowers until the boat is full. They earn about VND 100,000 per day by selling water lillies.
Harvesting water lily in the Vinh Te canal of Chau Doc City
Water lillies are a present that Mother Nature has given to poor Khmer locals in An Giang. They grow in old reservoirs, with stems of around 2 – 5 meters and flowers that come in white and purple.
Vegetables growing on flooded fields
There are many types of vegetables growing in the flood season. Many of them are considered specialties of the Mekong Delta, notably water lily, Egyptian riverhemp, eelgrass and water mimosa. They are an additional source of income for locals. The above photo was taken on a sunny afternoon on the Tra Su canal of Tinh Bien.
Water mimosa is an aquatic plant with small leaves and soft stems. When touched, the leaves will retract. After removing the leaves, locals use young water mimosa stems in a variety of dishes such as sour soup, hot pot or fresh with braised fish.
A village lady harvesting Egyptian riverhemp along the Vinh Te canal of Chau Doc.
In the Egyptian riverhemp season, locals will go to the canals on boats to harvest the vegetables, which can be used to make pickled dishes and sour soup, mixed with raw fish, sautéed with river shrimps or served fresh with braised fish.
Catching Ca Linh
When the Egyptian riverhemp flower starts to bloom, that is when small carp(Ca Linh) swim downstream along with the flood and flock the rivers, ponds and irrigation canals in the Mekong Delta. Young small carp in the early season are often used to make hot pots, while the adult ones at the end of the flood season are fermented to create An Giang’s famous fermented Ca Linh.
“It would be amiss to come to An Giang in the flood season without trying these small carp. As the cold wind blows from the north, the image of rice fields covered in flood and the joyful taste of dishes made with Ca Linh and Egyptian riverhemp leave visitors with unforgettable experiences,” Phuc Hau said.
Rounding up the buffalos across the Vinh Te canal
This photo was taken when a man was rounding up his buffalos across the Vinh Te canal to a higher place to feed his buffalos. He rounded the buffalo home in the afternoon.
Ba ma An Giang
“Ba ma An Giang” (an An Giang mother) was the photo that left the deepest impression on Phuc Hau.
“When I passed by the canal, I saw an old lady with the brightest smile gathering up the water lily, so I asked for her permission to take a photo. A month later, I came back to give her the photo but I learned that she had passed away,” Phuc Hau said.
Raising fishing nets at dusk
Images of farmers raising a fishing net at dusk in the flooded fields in Tha La create unique landscape photos.
The colors of the sky changes day by day, whether at dawn or dusk and never repeat.
A beautiful afternoon in Tra Su
According to Phuc Hau, the flood season is a part of life in the Mekong Delta. In the 2000s, floods covered all the rice fields in the region and did not retreat until the end of November, painting a lively, colorful picture of the Mekong Delta during the flood season.
However, the flood season is slowly fading into memory. Last year, Phuc Hau could not take photos of the flood season as there was not much water washing down from the upstream, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the flood has not yet arrived even in early October.
Phuc Hau is still waiting for the flood season to come.
By Sophie Tran