A cluster of brick and tile kilns on the riverbank announces your arrival in the charming town of SA DEC, a little over 20km upriver of Vinh Long. French novelist Marguerite Duras lived here as a child, and decades later the town’s stuccoed shophouse terraces, riverside mansions and remarkably busy stretch of the rumbling Mekong provided the backdrop for the movie adaptation of her novel The Lover.

It’s worth wandering along Nguyen Hué, whose umbrella-choked lanes hide Sa Dec’s extensive riverside market as well as the former home of Dumas’ lover. Waterfront comings and goings are observed by rheumy old men playing chequers, and women squat on their haunches, selling fruit from wicker baskets.