The tangled matrix that is Mekong Delta’s first heritage tree

By Di Vy   September 20, 2019 | 02:20 pm GMT+7

A 150-year-old banyan tree in Can Tho City with scores of entangled aerial roots has a matrix-like appearance.

Seeded in Gian Gua relic in Nhon Khanh hamlet, Phong Dien District, Can Tho city, the 10-meter tall tree is said by locals to have survived the wars. Its canopy is about 3,000 square meters large.

The 10-meter tree at the Gian Gua relic site in Nhon Nghia Ward, Phong Dien District, survived the wars. Its canopy spreads around 3,000 square meters.

The banyan is part of a mulberry family with a scientific name, Ficus Microcarpa. The smaller roots of the tree grow from its trunk and branches. The exact number of the roots has not been determined but it is for sure more than a thousand. Because it is so many, the tree absorbs enough water and nutrients to sustain itself, said Ba Ho, 64, a staff at Gian Gua relic said.

The banyan is part of the mulberry family. The roots of the tree drop from its trunk and branches.

Ba Ho, 64, an employee at the relic, said: "The exact number of roots has not been determined but it is for sure more than 1,000. Because of its myriad roots, the tree absorbs enough water and nutrients to sustain itself." Four groups of people take turns to tend the tree and clean the area.

The origin of the banyan remains a mystery to the locals living here. Many asserted that the tree had already shaded a large land in the area when they were little, including the relic staff Ba. Many younger roots continue to grow on the branches.

The origin of the banyan remains a mystery even to people living here. Many say the tree was already large when they were children, including the relic staff. Many new roots continue to grow from the branches.

Its main trunks are not gigantic like a typical centenarian tree. The biggest branch is only half the size of an adult’s embrace.

Its main trunks are not gigantic like a typical old tree’s. The biggest only encompasses half an adult’s embrace.

The bendy branches are intertwined, creating a mysterious vibe. Visitors have to crouch in order to walk inside the matrix. The further one goes, the more it feels like a maze.

The twisting branches are intertwined, giving the place an air of mystery. Visitors have to walk on bended knees inside the matrix. The further one goes, the more it feels like a maze.

The ancient tree is also the first Vietnamese Heritage Tree in the Mekong Delta region. Under its canopy, there used to be revolutionary bases against the French colonial regime and American soldiers in the previous centuries. Gian Gua was recognized as a city relic in 2013 by Can Tho City.

The ancient tree is also the first Vietnamese Heritage Tree in the Mekong Delta region, as recognized by the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment.

Under its canopy, there used to be revolutionary bases against the French colonial regime and American invaders in the previous centuries. Gian Gua was recognized as a city relic in 2013 by Can Tho City.


There are two ways to get to the relic. From the center of Can Tho, tourists follow the Vong Cung street in My Khanh commune, Phong Dien district, get on the ferry to Nhon Nghia commune and from there it’s easy to get to the relic by asking locals. Another way to get there is to drive on Highway 61B, heading to Vi Thanh, Hau Giang Province. When you reach the foot of Rach Sung bridge, make a left turn and drive until you see a sign that points to the relic.

There are two ways to reach the relic. From Can Tho, many tourists take Vong Cung Street, get on the ferry to Nhon Nghia Commune and then ask locals. Another way is to drive down Highway 61B toward Vi Thanh in Hau Giang Province. When you reach the foot of Rach Sung Bridge, turn left and drive until you reach a sign that points to the relic.

There is no admission to enter the relic. Ba Hon, the relic staff said its peak time is usually the morning, which is also when many foreign tourists come. Vietnamese customers often go here at noon and late afternoon, she said.

There is no admission fee to enter the relic. Ba Hon said the peak time is usually morning, when many foreign tourists too come. "Vietnamese often come here at noon and late afternoon."

 
 
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