Elegant Psardek in Spring
I was really impressed of by this town by of an outstanding reformed artist, who was named “Nam Sa Dec” with playing the role of a cruel mother-in-law in the play “Durian leaf”. This territory is also famous for a romantic love story of a French writer in during the Indochina period and the homeland of delicious noodles and Tan Quy Dong flower village.
Text: Duong Thuy
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History of Psardek
From Saigon, you can drive about 2 hours to Cai Lay, Cai Be, then Co Co, passing over My Thuan bridge and turn left to Vinh Long, travel to Can Tho – Soc Trang – Bac Lieu and Ca Mau – the last cape of the country and take a short way to Sa Dec. Tuan Duong, our guide, said: “In the past, this land was called Psardek (means Iron). According to the legend, Psardek, the daughter of a landlord named Thac, fell in love with a poor man. Her father did not agree and drowned him in the river. Psardek was so sad that she went into the Church. After her father died, she used their property for building streets, markets and helping the poor. Local people were so moved by her generousity that they called this market and village Psardek. When the Nguyen dynasty came to the throne, they named this landscape Kien Dang, Dinh Tuong province. Since Vietnamese people could not pronounce Psardek properly, its name was changed to Sa Dec.
Noodles and Ancient Houses in Sa Dec
At lunch time in the town, Tuan Duong introduces us to the noodle of Sa Dec and helps us to compare Sa Dec’s noodles with those of Nam Vang and My Tho. In comparison with noodle of other regions, Sa Dec’s noodle is most favored because it is made of high-quality rice and is not only tender but also tough and not sour. Sa Dec has two typical kinds of noodles: noodle with pork and noodle with beef pies. Each type is served with its own broth, noodle and beef pies with the broth of beef and pork bones and noodle and pork with the broth of pork bones mixed with spices. Local people prefer a bowl of noodles alongside a bowl of pork bones. Visiting this land, dropping by a restaurant and ordering “noodle with pork bones”, you will be served a bowl of noodle with chopped meat, pork heart and liver, and an overcooked bowl of pork bones. It is really a memorable experience to have these two dishes together.
After a delicious meal, we have a chance to visit an ancient house owned by Huynh Thuy Le, a well-known landlord in the novel “Lover”, written by famous French writer Marguerite Duras. The house, which is a fine combination of Eastern and Western architecture, is situated on the bank of the Sa Dec river. It manifests the Southern style with Chinese-stylized decorations and refined displays. At the end of 2010, this house was in its 115th year. In 1917, the original wooden house was repaired and rebuilt with the main materials of mortar. According to Tuan Duong, the house was left empty in 1972 because its owner and his family lived abroad, then in 1975, a military group moved in. Since 2007, this ancient house has been open for public use.
Sa Dec has 79 ancient houses, in which 17 houses were built at the end of the 19th century – early in the 20th century. Most of them were constructed in French architecture. Except for Huynh Thuy Le’s, the others are seriously downgraded. In Sa Dec, visitors should not miss Trung Vuong primary school (writer Marguerite Duras’s mother used to be its principal). The school also keeps its French architecture and a little modern style. I have read the book “Lover” and seen its movie with the excellent action of actor Luong Gia Huy and Jane March. However, when I visit the ancient house and school, I feel emotional as if history was slowly returning.
Visitingthe riverside flower village
We continue our journey to Tan Quy Dong flower village on one side of Sa Dec river, about 10km from the ancient house. On the other side, brick kilns are going up in smoke. The flower village is settled near the national road that is very convenient for trading and visiting. On Tet occasion, the village attracts a large number of visitors. I feel as if I was wandering in a colorful wonderland with vivid sounds of visitors, buyers, and sellers.
On the river, boats are full of different flowers such as roses, daisies and apricots. There are more than 20 kinds of roses (Sa Dec has a rose garden of more than 50 types). Some boats are carrying a variety of ornamental capsicums in different colors and shapes and some other boats with flowerpots and decorative plants in refined shapes.
After a good night at a small hotel by Sa Dec river, we arrive at the flower village and take beautiful photos in the morning sunshine. Leaving Sa Dec, I wave goodbye to the flower artisans, who are very friendly and close. We all hope that spring will bring about happiness and their smiles warm our hearts and make us love the peaceful land with the simple name Sa Dec.
+ To travel to Sa Dec, you can book a ticket at Phuong Trang tourist agent; acar departs every 15 minutes.
+ The average price for accommodation is VND180,000. You can buy many regional specialties such as Lai Vung spring roll, mandarin orange or Sa Giang shrimp-chips.
+ In Sa Dec, you can sail a ferry-boat at An Hoa and Cao Lanh ferry landings to feel the love story between landlord Huynh Thuy Le and French writer Marguerite Duras, who met and fell in love with each other on this ferry landing.
+ Girls in Nha Van – Sa Dec are very famous for their beauty because they were made for the Nguyen dynasty.
+ You can also take a tour at Vietravel, Ben Thanh Tourist… to Sa Dec.
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