CHAU DOC – Cochinchina

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I. Physical Geography

    Situated in the north-west of Cochin-China, the province of Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] is bounded on the north and on the west by the Kingdom of Cambodia, on the south, by the provinces of Hatien [Hà Tiên] and Rachgia [Rạch Giá], and in the east, by the provinces of Longxuyen [Long Xuyên] and Tanan [Tân An].


     This province, which has approximately an area of 275.876 hectares, is formed by an immense plain, with a towering range of seven mountains, of which the highest point is Nui Cam [Núi Cấm] (880m), at a distance of 40km from the chief town. In the immediate vicinity of the chief town, is the Nui Sam [Núi Sam], a much smaller mountain, 232 meters high, on the summit of which a sanatorium was built in 1896.


     The two branches of the Mekong river flow through the whole width of the province, which also has two chief canals, the Vinh Te [Vĩnh Tế] canal starts from the Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] stream 900m from where it joins the Bassac [Bassac] river, at the north of the town, then continues towards the east, across the immense plain of Jones, passes between the two mountains, the Nui Cau [Núi Cậu] and the Nui Tabec [Núi Ta Béc], and ends in the village of Chen Thanh. The Vinh An [Vĩnh An] canal links the Bassac [Bassac] river with one branch of the Mekong [Mê Kông] river, starting at Phumsoai [Phum Soài], it ends at the village of Long Phu [Long Phú], 100m from the market place of Tanchau [Tân Châu]. It is 17km long and 15 meters wide.


    The climate of Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] is fairly healthy, and the temperature varies between 18 and 26 degrees centigrade. It has a regular rainy season from May to October.


     The province is intersected by a network of routes, comprising the colonial routes from Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] to Longxuyen [Long Xuyên] (not yet opened to traffic), the Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] to Hatien [Hà Tiên] route, and the provincial routes from Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] to Tinhbien [Tịnh Biên], and from Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] to Tanchau [Tân Châu]. The chief town is 177km from Pnom Penh [Pnôm Pênh], 127km from Hatien [Hà Tiên], 112km from Bockor, and 270km from Saigon [Sài Gòn]. When the Longxuyen [Long Xuyên] to Sadec [Sa Đéc] route is opened, Saigon [Sài Gòn] will only be 225km from the chief town.

II. Administrative Geography

     The province of Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] is divided into 12 cantons, formed into 4 administrative districts, at the head of which is placed a native administrative deleg ate. The four districts are:

  1. the delegation of Chauphu [Châu Phú];
  2. that of Tanchau [Tân Châu];
  3. that of Tinhbien [Tịnh Biên];
  4. that of Triton [Tri Tôn].

III. Economical Geography


     The province may be divided into two parts, the low lying districts and the hilly districts. Rice and maize form the chief cultivation,

a) Rice: The rice grown in Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] is of several kinds: rice “in season” “early” rice, “late” rice and rice “flottant”. The rice “in season”, or lua-mua, is the same as grown in the other provinces of Cochin-China. This rice can only be grown in the district of lYiton, as this ground is not flooded by the Mekong river. The “flottant” rice, or lua-sa, imported from Siam about 12 years ago, includes several kinds, designated by special names pertaining to, either the country it came from, or the shape of the grain, or the time of flowering, or of its maturity. The peculiarity of this rice is that it is soon broadcast without any other labour than that of burning the weeds on the fields before sowing. There is no soil at Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] actually suited to growing “early” rice, or lua-som, colloquially called Lua Ba Trang [Lụa Bà Trăng]. The cultivation of this rice is only attempted as soon as the floods subside. “Late” rice, or lua-gian, is also grown in the districts subjected to the annual floods, at the season when they subside,

b) Maizei: After that of rice, the cultivation of maize is the most interesting. It is planted more or less verywhere, but chiefly in the districts of Tanchau [Tân Châu] and Chau Phu [Châu Phú].


    There are two decortication machines at Chaudoc [Châu Đốc], but these have not been working for over a year on account of the poor harvest. There is an electric factory under the direct administration of Chau Phu [Châu Phú] (the chief town) with a monthly capacity of 4.000kw power. The silk industry is carried on in the districts of Tanchau [Tân Châu] and Triton [Tri Tôn]. There are 180 silk worm nurseries, 43 spinning mills, and 41 weaving works at Tanchau [Tân Châu]. Almost all the well-to-do Cambodians of Triton [Tri Tôn] breed silk worms and manufacture silk in limited quantities for their own use. They work carelessly and without method, and the silk is of such poor quality, that it is commercially useless. Nevertheless, they exhibit at the yearly fair at Hanoi several garments made by them, with some success. There are some granite quarries at Nui Sam [Núi Sam], worked by a few colonists, and Chinese and Annamite contractors. There are several indigo works near Tanchau [Tân Châu]; the indigo is of good quality but badly prepared. The natives living on the banks of the canal of Vinh Te [Vĩnh Tế] make rush mats and sacks (dem and caron). These are only made by women, but the industry is likely to die out on account of the fact that wild rushes are getting ever scarcer, the more the ground is cleared.


     The greater part of the population of the province is occupied with fishing. They not only fish in the streams, but also in pools, fish ponds and fish pits. Fish are sold fresh, dried and salted. Several kinds of fish are used for preparing nuoc-mam, mam, and oil; dried and salted fish are exported to China and Singapore.


   Hunting at Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] merits special mention. The mountainous district, about 17km from the chief town, towards Triton, is full of game. There are tigers, tiger-cats, wild cats, panthers, stags, wild boar, etc. Hares, partridges and wild fowl are abundant. The Cambodians are great hunters. The inhabitants of a village frequently arrange battues. When a Cambodian is the proud possessor of a rifle, he quickly becomes an excellent shot.


    Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] is a good market for the products of Cambodia. The markets of Chaudoc [Châu Đốc], Tanchau [Tân Châu], Tinhbien [Tịnh Biên] and Triton [Tri Tôn] are expanding daily. There is a fairly active trade at Chaudoc [Châu Đốc] in cattle, grain and silk. Goods from China find a reach sale among the natives in the interior of the province. It should also be mentioned that goods from Tonkin find a ready’ sale in Chaudoc [Châu Đốc], as well as in the other provinces.

1 /2020

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.

◊  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

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