I’VE been to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta a few times now but this is the first time I’ve visited Sa Dec.
The settlement sits upstream from big cities like Vinh Long and My Tho and, at first glance, looks much like all the other villages lining the banks of the might Mekong River as it snakes from the Cambodian border to the South China Sea.
But the place has a claim to fame, a link to French literature, that makes it worth visiting if you’re in this part of the world.
It’s where the two lead characters from Marguerite Duras’ novel The Lovers lived with the family home of the young Chinese man that seduced the French schoolgirl still standing on the edge of a Mekong tributary.
I’m travelling with Wendy Wu Tours on board the RV Mekong Pandaw, from Siem Reap to Saigon, and we make this stop in Sa Dec to wander through the market and visit the famous house on one morning of a week-long voyage.
I have seen dozens of Vietnamese markets during my many visits to this part of the world but I never tire of walking the busy laneways and alleys to snap photos of the street-level commerce taking place at stalls selling everything from fish and rice to plastic sandals and handmade baskets.
It’s worth wandering along Nguyen Hué, whose umbrella-choked lanes hide Sa Dec’s extensive riverside market as well as the former home of Dumas’ lover. Waterfront comings and goings are observed by rheumy old men playing chequers, and women squat on their haunches, selling fruit from wicker baskets.Rough Guide website