Irrigation canals of Khanh Hoa Province
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 126 of 126 › view all entries
Irrigation canals are the lifeblood of Khanh Hoa Province. They bring precious water from foothill lakes and reservoirs or flowing rivers to distant plantations, farms, and rice fields. The integrity of these intricately woven networks seems to surpass that of the region's haphazard highway system. Controlled and regulated by reservoir spillways, and channeled by manual shut-off valves, water eases through countless interchanges to branch off in many different directions. By the time the canals reach the low-lying rice paddies they are little more than narrow trenches eighteen inches wide and two feet deep.
The man-made canals sometimes criss-cross each other and even pass under natural streams to resurface on the other side and continue their important journey. In Cam Duc, a water bridge thirty feet above ground stretches for nearly a mile along the edge of town before resuming its course across sandy terrain toward more fertile farmlands.
It's easiest to intercept the irrigation canals west of Highway 1 - far from treacherous traffic and blaring horns. In fact, the only horns out there are on oxen pulling carts or on water buffalo silently working a rice paddy. You can follow the canals upstream to discover reservoirs lined with the cool shade of banana, pine, or aromatic eucalyptus trees. I've found nine reservoirs between Ninh Hoa and Cam Ranh but there are many, many more. I'd rarely seen kids swimming in them but a few times people fishing. One day, cattlemen relaxed under a mango tree while their buffalos lapped water and bathed. Lakeside trails lead to rocky streams and make for further exploration into higher rugged country.
Where the canals go underground in the countryside, a track or footpath usually marks their location until they eventually reappear on ground level. Through small towns or villages, they may pass along beneath a neighborhood street; one raised just a little higher or paved with a different asphalt than the other streets. They usually resurface somewhere on the edge of town and can easily get you back on track toward more countryside exploration and discovery. Following the canals can be a most rewarding experience. They truly are the lifeblood of the province and provide a gateway to fascinating first-hand views of Vietnamese life in the countryside.