Friday, March 26, 2010

Deco in the Delta

Mid afternoon, a man with a large white box pitched up in front of the market place. He unlocked the box, unwound the microphone, twiddled with the knobs and started crooning. The song reverberated through the surrounding fruit-laden stalls. Locals ambled over, all under the watch of the gloriously looming portrait of Ho Chi Minh, staring out in to the middle distance from his portrait perch as the centrepiece of the art deco market building. Tra Vinh is a quiet outpost in the Mekong Delta. Bicyclists wearing the non la conical hat weaved through the traffic in addition to the roaring bikers and the odd car. The vividly painted Chinese Ong Pagoda is a visual standout in a city of sleepy streets, wonky pavements, streetside cafes and the odd art deco signage and decoration. Even the local tennis club was adorned with an art-deco, if mouldy, branding. At night, the hammer and sickle logo of the Communist Party was illuminated by fairy lights draped from pole to pole across the main highway. When many of the Mekong Delta cities are overgrown, ugly urban sprawls wrapped in a giant bird’s nest of electricity wires, Tra Vinh was a welcome respite.

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