I. Physical Geograph
The province of Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] is situated between 8°30 and 9°30 latitude north, and 102°20 and 104° longitude east. It is bounded on the north by the province of Soctrang [Sóc Trăng] and Rachgia [Rạch Giá], on the south by the East Sea, on the west by the Gulf of Siam, and in the east also by the East Sea. It covers a superficial area of 720.000 hectares and has a population of 179.316, made up as follows: French and naturalised French 107; other Europeans 2; half-breed French subjects 66; Annamites from Cochin-China 131.877; Annamites from Annam [An Nam], Tonkin and Cambodia 1.328; Minh Huong [Minh Hương] 11.094; Chinese 9.285; Cambodians 25.452; Malays 55; Indians 56, a total of 179.316 inhabitants. The province is watered by the Rach Baclieu [Rạch Bạc Liêu], the Rach Mythanh [Rạch Mỹ Thanh], the Rach Cai Huu [Rạch Cái Hữu] and the Camau [Cà Mau] canal. There are five principal routes in the province: The first from Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] to the sea by the Antrach quarter, the second from Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] to Mythanh [Mỹ Thạnh] by the village of Vinhchau [Vĩnh Châu], the Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] road to Gia Hoi [Gia Hội], the Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] road to Phong Thanh [Phong Thạnh] (Giarai [Gia Rai]) along the Camau canal, the Baclieu road to Soctrang (49 kilometers). Quite recently the route to Phong Thanh Camau [Cà Mau] was finished. The distance from Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] to Saigon [Sài Gòn] by the colonial route N° 16 is 270km. The province is also served by the “Messageries fluviales” boats. Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] is one of the most important rice centres of the west. Attached to Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] is the delegation of Camau [Cà Mau]… situated at the southern extremity of Cochin-China, and deliminated in the north by Rachgia [Rạch Giá], in the south by the East Sea, in the east by the province of Baclieu [Bạc Liêu], and in the west by the Gulf of Siam. The islands of Poulo Obi, south of the extreme point of the peninsula, depend geographically on the province of Baclieu [Bạc Liêu]. They are not inhabited. They are covered with forests containing valuable essences. A light-house has been erected enabling sailors to double this point at Camau [Cà Mau] without danger. Of the total superficial area, about 40.000 hectares are of value. The general aspect of the country is that of an immense sunken plain, covered with forests of “Tram” [Trầm] and “Gia” [Giá], producing bees-wax and honey, or large, barren spaces, intersected here and there by pestilential ponds. The soil, which is of a more recent formation than the delta of the Mekong [Mê Kông], is formed by the gradual retreating of the waters of the Gulf of Siam. This movement of subsiding waters must have been very irregular, because between the last alluvions of the Bassac and those of the Gulf, there exists a vast central depression, always under water, a kind of natural reservoir collecting the surplus water from the rivers during the south-easterly Monsoons. This marshy zone, partly covered by “Tram” [Trầm] forests and which may be compared with the “Plains of Jones” is significantly called by the natives “Lang-Bien” [Lặng Biển] (the tranquil sea). It is here that one finds the sources of the fine waterways which intersect the peninsula and which constitute the excellent hydrographical network of which Camau [Cà Mau] is the most important. Unfortunately these streams, with their blackish water from the decomposition of the detritus vegetable matter of the forests, are filled with slime, which gradually forms barriers at the mouth of the rivers. The shore seems fated to be choked up with sand. The climate of Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] is healthy. Being so near the sea (4km in a straight line) the heat is tampered by a breeze all the year round. Unfortumately the same cannot be said of Camau [Cà Mau]. Some pestilential pools in the marshy regions of the peninsula breed, at the end of the Monsoon season, fever germs.
The province of Baclieu [Bạc Liêu] is divided into four districts, or administrative parts: Camau [Cà Mau], Giarai [Gia Rai], Vinhloi [Vĩnh Lợi] (the chief town) and Vinhchau [Vĩnh Châu]. The district of Camau [Cà Mau] is under an European delegate, the others are governed by the Doc Phu Su [Đốc Phủ Sứ], Phu [Phủ] or Huyen [Huyện]. Besides the chief town of Vinhloi [Vĩnh Lợi], there are other localities worth visiting. These are the villages of Vinhchau [Vĩnh Châu], a wealthy centre, inhabited by people of the canton of Thanhhung [Thạnh Hưng], Laihoa with its fine vegetation, the shore of My Thanh [Mỹ Thạnh], Longthanh [Long Thành], Hoabinh [Hoà Bình], a village becoming daily prettier, Anxuyen [An Xuyên] (centre of Camau [Cà Mau]) where one can admire the grand shores of the rivers of Song Ong Doc [Sông Ông Đốc], etc.
Rice is grown on most of the land which can be used for this purpose. The port of Camau [Cà Mau] has an important maritime traffic with Bangkok [Băng Kốc], Hainan [Hải Nam] and Singapore. Camau [Cà Mau] offers excellent opportunities for forest culture, honey and bees-wax is found in abundant quantities and forms an important commerce. But with the ever increasing clearing of the land, bees are leaving this district for more congenial parts. The charcoal of Camau [Cà Mau] is very much in demand, and is considered to be the best quality in Cochin-China. Important quantities are sent all over the colony, even to Cambodia. The Camau [Cà Mau] output is about 50.000 tons and employs 400 brick furnaces worked by Chinese and Annamites. Camau [Cà Mau] also furnishes annually 5.000 cubic meters of various tinctorial bark and 6.000 C.M. of tan bark from various species of mangrove. The fisheries are very important and constitute a considerable export trade with China. Finally the rush-mats manufactured in the village of Tan Duyet [Tân Duyệt] are in great demand. This industry occupies exclusively women and young girls, and is not likely to expand, on the contrary, it diminishes as the land is cleared of rushes, and prepared for cultivation. The same domestic animals are found here as elsewhere in Cochin-China pigs and buffaloes predominate, oxen are very seldom seen. There is numerous game in the province of Baclieu, tigers, wild boar, teal, pelicans, hares, duck, fowl, marabout, herons. Excellent hunting grounds are found in the cantons of Thanhhoa [Thanh Hoá] and Thanhhung [Thạnh Hưng], and in the canton of Longthuy [Long Thuỷ] (herons, duck).
BAN TU THƯ
1: Marcel Georges Bernanoise (1884-1952) – Painter, was born in Valenciennes – the northernmost region of France. Summary of life and career:
+ 1905-1920: Working in Indochina and in charge of mission to the Governor of Indochina;
+ 1910: Teacher at Far East School of France;
+ 1913: Studying indigenous arts and publishing a number of scholarly articles;
+ 1920: He returned to France and organized art exhibitions in Nancy (1928), Paris (1929) – landscape paintings about Lorraine, Pyrenees, Paris, Midi, Villefranche-sur-mer, Saint-Tropez, Ytalia, as well as some souvenirs from the Far East;
+ 1922: Publishing books on Decorative Arts in Tonkin, Indochina;
+ 1925: Won a grand prize at the Colonial Exhibition in Marseille, and collaborated with the architect of Pavillon de l’Indochine to create a set of interior items;
+ 1952: Dies at age 68 and leaves a large number of paintings and photographs;
+ 2017: His painting workshop was successfully launched by his descendants.
◊ Book “LA COCHINCHINE” – Marcel Bernanoise – Hong Duc [Hồng Đức] Publishers, Hanoi, 2018.
◊ Bold and italicized Vietnamese words are enclosed inside quotation marks – set by Ban Tu Thu – thanhdiavietnamhoc.com
◊ CHOLON – La Cochinchine – Part 1
◊ CHOLON – La Cochinchine – Part 2
◊ SAIGON – La Cochinchine
◊ GIA DINH – La Cochinchine
◊ BIEN HOA – La Cochinchine
◊ THU DAU MOT – La Cochinchine
◊ MY THO – La Cochinchine
◊ TAN AN – La Cochinchine