Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 12: Can Gio Reserve
Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer. Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures.
Can Gio is a swampy island located about 70 km from Ho Chi Minh City where the Saigon River meets the sea. It's been referred to as the "green lungs" of Saigon, as its more than 80,000 ha of mangrove forests help to clean the air of the growing city, and protects and prevents coastal erosion and storms coming in from the sea.
Can Gio is listed as a UNESCO biosphere, a forested area which hosts more than 200 species of fauna and 25 species of flora. In fact, it is now the most extensive, protected, mangrove site in the entire world.
This tour got the biggest smiles from our children, Claire and Peter, during our entire three week visit to Vietnam! Was it the wind hitting their faces on the motorboat ride to our first stop at the bat preserve or maybe it was feeding the crocodiles during the visit to their protected farm?
Or was it the climb to an observation tower high above Can Gio canopy to view the rivers below and green forests spread around like a blanket? Maybe walking with long-tailed monkeys was the magic? Surely, it was all of the above!
Can Gio is a forest full of mangrove trees which seem to arise from below the surface of the silty river delta in tangles and masses of trunks which support other plant life and animal life, securing land and acting as a buffer to erosion and sea storm waters, offering an almost magical and mystical appearance to the landscape.
Traveling in a small boat without a motor allows for a near-silent approach to birds, to tree canopy where bats slumber, and to view lotus flowers, water hyacinth, grasses and other exotic flora, whose names we do not know.
Slipping through this verdant and abundant forest it is difficult to believe this land had been reduced during the war to a treeless, moonscape of land as it has now, through government protection and the force of international law, been restored to health and tremendous biological diversity. There are even efforts, on-going, to reintroduce wildlife that originally lived in this forest but then fled during wartime.
This tour is a virtual National Geographic photo safari -- there are crocodiles and long-tailed monkeys to feed and remarkable vines, bats, twisted mangrove trees and creatures to take digital pictures of and share with your family and friends back home. More than that -- it's a eco-tour of remarkable beauty offering a glimpse of the reforestation of mangrove, now one of the richest and most extensive on the planet.
Can Gio reveals to all the sacred pact humans, plants and animals share: we protect and guard one another in this remarkable web of life. Come and visit this place where all things are working together for the good of all. It will bring smiles to your hearts, as well as your faces!
Family Trip by Kathleen: