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Fruit and history: a journey through Ha Tien
In the summer months, first time visitors to Ha Tien should sample the assortment of native forest fruits.
The choices are modest yet intriguing-ripe yellow mangosteens and red forest lichees, also called truong fruit, are abundant. If fruit fails to satisfy the appetite, there are numerous fresh seafood stands along the road to downtown Ha Tien.
Moving into the actual town, small alleys near the Mac Cuu Mausoleum offer a unique and exciting glimpse of local culinary life. Banh khot (pancake filled with shrimp and flavored with coconut flesh juice) and black-bean soup with palmyra sugar (which is traditionally served with ice) are offered at most local eateries. Because of Ha Tien’s historical heritage, Cambodian-style steamed glutinous rice with durian flesh leaves are also available.
For the history buff, Mac Cuu Mausoleum is one of Ha Tien’s well-known places of interest. It marks the annual death of Mac Cuu (1655-1735), a talented district governor. Cuu was revered for “taming” the physical landscape of Ha Tien. The transition from dense forests and roaring rivers to planned communities and irrigated fields was almost instantaneous. Under his watch, Ha Tien and the surrounding provinces boomed, becoming immensely productive. Services are held on the 27th day of the fifth lunar month, which usually falls on May or June
A visit to the Chieu Anh Cac Pavilion, which is situated in the mausoleum, is not-to-be-missed. The pavilion radiates a sense of calm. The leaves whistle on a summer afternoon and the lotus pond ripples in the wind.
The area surrounding the mausoleum has an ancient feel. The roads and houses are reminiscent of rural areas in the north
After leaving Ha Tien, a stop at Xa Xia Border Gate, nearly 10 kilometers from the town, is necessary. You can try the Cambodian-style bun rieu (rice vermicelli with field crab juice) at a small restaurant near a quaint local rice field. The dish is overwhelmingly flavorful and it’s a staple of local Khmer cuisine.