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October 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm #30590
One of the most endearing sights in the Mekong Delta is a person making their way across one of the fascinating ‘monkey bridges’ (cau khi). These simple, arch-shaped footbridges are usually built of uneven logs about 30cm to 80cm wide and have only a simple bamboo railing. They are suspended anywhere from 2m to 10m above the creeks and connect tiny villages throughout the region to main roads. At first glance the bridges look more like makeshift scaffolding than a bridge. It’s amazing t. watch the locals traverse these narrow catwalks with bicycles and heavy loads balanced between their shoulders on bamboo poles. A fall from one of these tightrope bridges could result in serious injury, but the Vietnamese just glide across with ease (and smiles on their faces).
In 1998 the government initiated a programme to begin replacing the region’s monkey bridges with safer, Im-wide wood piank overpasses. In 2000 the plan was amended with a new and improved agenda to do away with all of the delta’s monkey bridges once and for all, and to replace them with more durable concrete bridges. While the move no doubt is a victory in terms of improvement to the local infrastructure throughout the Mekong Delta, giving local people easier and safer access across the creeks, sadly the traditional landscape is suffering an aesthetic loss. The days of seeing these charming bridges everywhere are numbered, but still, with thousands of bridges to dismantle and replace, you can rest assured that there will always be some left to find.