Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vietnam Vacation: Mekong Delta Tour

One of my favorite activities on my recent trip to Vietnam was a boat ride on the Mekong River Delta.  

The water was the color of chocolate milk and had all sorts of things floating in it.  Houses and small businesses were clustered along the bank, leaning over the water on stilts.

Some of them were less sturdy than others!

This was a fueling station for boats.
Many of the buildings had stairs going down to the water for easy boat access.
This was part of the Mekong Delta's famous "Floating Market".  Vendors fill their boats with produce from their farms and then live out on the delta for a couple weeks at a time until they've sold it all (to customers in other boats).  
Most of the boats sported a tall bamboo pole that served as an advertisement.  Near the top of the pole, they would tie a few samples of whatever vegetable or fruit they were selling.
The vendors sleep in hammocks on their boats and do their cooking and laundry onboard with river water.  The guide assured us that they don't get sick because supposedly their immune systems are used to it.  Considering what the water looked like, I find that difficult to believe!
Closeup of a boat full of fruit for sale.  The proprietor gave us a few free samples!
This lady was selling iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk in it from her boat.  I bought a cupful - it was the strongest coffee I've ever had!
As part of the tour package, our guide also brought along free fruit for us to munch on the boat.  The red spiny ones are called rambutan.  Delicious!
Our tour guide also provided us with fresh coconuts.  He cut holes in the tops and stuck straws in for us to drink the coconut water.
This is where he had been storing the drinking straws we used: up in the rafters of the boat's ceiling.
We stopped and got out at several different places along the bank.  This was a bee farm.  They have hundreds of these boxes where the bees have made their hives.
At the bee farm, we were served jasmine tea with fresh honey and kumquat squeezed in.  Yum!
Besides honey and bee pollen, the bee farm sold royal jelly by the jar.  Here a man was mixing some with honey for us to try.
Later, we got off the boat for another activity: a short bike ride down a path near the delta.
Amazing.  Rickety little houses perched on stilts at the water's edge - with satellite dishes!
After the bike ride, we watched a traditional skit/dance with musical accompaniment.
The musician in black is playing a single-stringed instrument called a monochord.
We were given tea and more fresh fruit to eat while we watched the show.  Rambutan, longan, guava, mini bananas, and jackfruit.
Eventually we switched to a smaller boat and took a ride down one of the many little canals beside the delta.
This was our guide for the day, Kahn (sp?).  He spoke great English and was very knowledgeable about Vietnam's history, geography, culture, and folklore.
There were lots of little homes along the canal.  Many of them had homemade docks with boats moored there, like this one.  Note the poles that keep it from drifting away.
Later we got out at a "historic house" for lunch.
The house is open to tourists to look around in and provides a set meal for lunch.
However, a family actually lives there.  Though the living room and some of the other areas were as clean and fancy as though they were part of a museum, bedroom doors were open, and we could look inside to see that the place is very lived-in!
The main course at lunch.
It was quite tasty - not as scary as it looked!
Vegetable and lotus seed soup.
These wraps were good, too.  The ones at the right and left were made from some kind of flower, stuffed with fish and then deep-fried.  My favorite part of the meal!
Another of our stops on the boat ride was at a small factory where we got to watch rice paper being made.
Here it was being spread out to dry.
We also got to see people making popped rice (sort of like popcorn, but, well, with rice instead of corn).
Packaging the popped rice snacks.  These are popular in Taiwan, where I live, too.
At another little factory, we watched coconut candy being made.
Coconut candy spread out to dry before being cut into pieces and packaged.  There were lots of free samples available.  I thought it tasted good, but the toffee-like consistency was too thick and sticky for me.

All in all, I really enjoyed the Mekong Delta tour and all the accompanying activities.  What a fun, culturally interesting, and delicious experience!

 Click here to read my post about arrival in Ho Chi Minh and our hotel, the Golden Dragon

... or my blog post about seeing the sights in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

... or the Cu Chi Tunnels (from the Vietnam War)

... or a water puppet show!


Unknown said...

Wonderful photo essay. Thank you for sharing. My husband grew up in the Mekong Delta (in the islands near Mỹ Tho) and we've taken our family back there to visit. Your trip makes me want to go again soon!

Annie Douglass Lima said...

You're welcome, and thanks for sharing that! What a wonderful place for your husband to grow up. I"m so glad you got to see it and to take your family there too. I loved my trip to that part of the world!