Last known location: London, England

The Mekong Delta

After another night in Saigon without seeing anything of the city we were up early to head south for a trip to the Mekong Delta.  The three hour bus journey (we seem to have spent a lot of time on buses recently!) took us to My Tho, which is the capital of the Delta region.  From My Thowe got a small boat to Unicorn Island where we visited a honey farm.  The owners of the farm had no fear of bees and pulled out the trays to demonstrate the honey making process – Dan and I both panicked and backed away!  Apparently they are very placid bees, but this information was not enough to persuade either of us to hold the tray and pose for a photo – sorry!  Once the bees were safely tucked away we sampled some honey tea which was very tasty, and also, somewhat bizarrely, tried some Vietnamese rice wine!

Afterwards we walked further inland to a tropical fruit centre where we were treated to dragon fruit, papaya, mango, longan and rambutan.  At the same time some local men and women played instruments and sang traditional songs.  This was obviously a tourist oriented venture, but it was very pleasant all the same!

After that fruity experience we went back to the boat and were taken to Ben Tre island where we were herded to another local business – this time they were making coconut candy.  We were quickly talked through the process before being ushered to the stalls selling the end products.  We did end up buying some candy – it becomes harder and harder to say no to these people!

Having eaten fruit and candy already, it was now time for lunch!  We, rather embarrassingly, took a horse and carriage to the restaurant which was located about 5 minutes inland.  There were 4 of us Westerners in the carriage and we felt awful for the poor pony – it was pretty small and seemed to be struggling under our weight!  After lunch we got the boat back to M? Tho and the rest of our group left to get the bus back to Saigon.  Dan and I had opted for the 2 day trip which involved a night on the Delta at a local homestay.  More on that later!

Our guide left with the rest of the group and we were left on our own at the port with the promise that we’d be picked up by another group in the next 10 minutes.  One hour later a bus pulled up and we were finally collected!  This bus took us two hours further into the Delta, to Can Tho, the biggest city in the Mekong.  From there we got a very small boat in the dark to our homestay.  The set-up wasn’t quite what we’d imagined – we thought we’d be staying in someone’s house and eating and talking with them.  The reality was we were sleeping in small bungalows built on the family’s property and eating outside with the 6 or so other Westerners also staying there.  It was great fun, but we didn’t get to spend a huge amount of time with our host and his family, although he was very generous with the rice wine, which he insisted everybody should have! Our bungalow was pretty basic but fortunately had a mosquito net over the bed – the mozzies on the Mekong are vicious and we would have been eaten alive!  I did come away with a few nasty bites but luckily nothing too awful.  We’re taking our malaria tablets now, too, which is a good thing!

The next morning we were up at 5am – we had set our alarm but it turned out there was no need, the cockerel woke us up!  We visited the nearby rice paddies with our host and watched the sunrise over the fields.  Quite spectacular.  We went back to the homestay for breakfast – eggs all round – and then took a boat to visit the Cai Rang floating market, one of the biggest on the Delta.  It was amazing to see people selling from various different sized boats – to let people know what is being sold they hang the product from a wooden stick on top of the boat.  We bought some fresh mango and pineapple – very tasty!

After the market we were taken to a rice paper workshop.  We did feel like we were being shipped around a from one shop to the next but it’s just the way it is in Vietnam.  The final stop of the day was a fruit farm growing durian, the really big smelly fruit, and guava.  After that we were bussed back to Saigon – quite a long (5 hour) journey and really uncomfortable seats so we were glad when we finally made it back!


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