Agriculture involving domestication of plants and animals was developed some 12,000 years ago. Identifying the exact origin of agriculture, however, remains difficult because the transition from hunter-gatherer societies began thousands of years before writing. Between about 8000 and 3500 BCE, increasing numbers of humans shifted to dependence on cultivated crops and domesticated animals for their subsistence. While westernized countries today often center on mega-farms and gigantic agricultural projects, many areas of the world still use centuries-old techniques handed down by their forefathers. The villages and rural regions of Indochina have kept alive those earlier farming methods. The “agri-adventures” below offer insights into the development of societies and communities as well as to the everyday connections we have with the food we eat.
1. Rice Paddies, Luang Prabang, Laos
Rice is a vital staple for many across Southeast Asia. Outside Luang Prabang, you can explore an organic vegetable farm and rice fields. Many of us are generations removed from the land our forefathers understood. Here you have the opportunity to participate in a Living Farm experience that takes you through the 13 steps needed for growing, harvesting and cooking sticky rice, using age-old tools and methods. You step into someone else’s shoes and reconnect with the land as you also gain better appreciation of everyday life for these hardworking rural people. This experience can be incorporated into Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos: Minority Tribes of Indochina
2. Pepper Farm, Kep, Cambodia
The coastal countryside surrounding the city of Kep is incredibly scenic and dotted with traditional Khmer villages, seasonal rice paddies – and pepper! The well-known Kampot pepper plant is only produced in half a dozen districts of the Cambodian provinces of Kampot and Kep, and it is the first Cambodian product to enjoy the EU’s protected geographical status, which certifies the origin of regional foods. Visit an organic pepper farm nestling amid fruit and vegetable plantations in the heart of Cambodia’s famous pepper region. This experience can be enjoyed on our Rural Landscapes of Laos & Cambodia.
3. Floating Gardens, Inle Lake, Myanmar
The people of Inle Lake grow vegetables on floating islands, a collection of floating weed and water hyacinth. These ‘islands’ can be cut, dragged by boats and be sold like a piece of land. Locals grow vegetables and fruit in large beds are formed by extensive manual labor. The farmers gather lake-bottom weeds from the deeper parts of the lake and make them into floating beds anchored by bamboo poles. These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding. The constant availability of nutrient-laden water results in these gardens being incredibly fertile. Explore the many facets and traditions of the lake in our Myanmar journey.
4. Floating Vegetable Markets, Mekong Delta, Southern Vietnam
The Mekong River delta produces about half of Vietnam’s total agricultural output. Indeed, the region has recently been dubbed a ‘biological treasure trove’ for the more than 1,000 new species of plants that have been found in newly explored areas. The delta is known for its floating markets such as those in Phung Hiep and Cai Be. Farmers from the region bring their fresh fruits and vegetables to the markets. Countless boats take part in the floating market trade, even in locations not accessible by car. The largest and most popular floating market is in the city of Can Tho, where you can buy everything you need for your menu – from fresh fruits and vegetables, to meat, to rice wine. But you have to be early to catch the action at these markets. The biggest floating market in the delta, for example, is Phung Hiep, which is open between 4.00 am and 11.00 am. Cai Be, one of the many floating markets in southern Vietnam, was formed in the 19th century. Create your own Vietnam itinerary that includes the massive Mekong Delta in our Custom Vietnam Tour.
5. Organic Farms, Song Saaa Island, Cambodia
The Journeys of Change programs here provides guests with the opportunity to explore the organic farms of the island as well as other philanthropic projects. Guests learn about the work being done to promote a sustainable future for the people and places of the Koh Rong Archipelago. Participants will experience one of the last remaining untouched environments in tropical Southwest – with pristine sand beaches, swaying coconut palms and fringing coral reefs; while finding themselves energized by the beauty of the environment and spirit of the Archipelago’s people. Explore this beautiful island on our Thailand & Cambodia adventure.