Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mekong Madness

For as little as $18 you can do a two-day tour of the Mekong Delta. The Mekong is a mighty river that starts in Tibet and flows down towards the southern part of Vietnam before it fingers out into the ocean. On our first day of the tour we cruised the Mekong River on long tail boats checking out the sites along the river.Then we were herded onto narrow motorized boats that shuttled us to a coconut farm in the thick delta marshes. We saw how coconut candy is made; we even got to taste some when it’s still warm, which is much better than the hard packaged candy, which tastes like Bit-O-Honey candies.

Then we were treated to banana wine; tasted like rubbing alcohol.
And enjoyed traditional dance performance while eating our lunch.
From the coconut candy factory the four of us got on a saphan rowed by two people through the narrow passageways of the Delta lined with water coconut trees and palms; this was our favorite part of the day and in our opinion way too short of a ride.
From there we headed back to the mini-bus for a two, but turned into 5 hour ride to the ferry to cross the Mekong to the town of Can To, where we were to spend the night. It is close to the Tet New Year so the road leading to the ferry moved at a snails pace and soon some demanded to get off the bus and walk the 15 kilometers to the ferry terminal. Once in Can To we were shuttled to the guest house, the worse accommodations we’ve seen so far to the point where we locked our luggage together in the room even while we slept.The town of Can To turned out to be very chic and quite nice. So our suggestion to others is since the tour is so cheap, book your own hotel – Can To City Hotel looked nice. We met up with family and had a really nice dinner before headed back to the guesthouse to sleep. We wished we could have just crashed at the restaurant, the guest house was that horrible. The next morning we checked out and had breakfast before getting back on the mini-bus to tour the floating market.The boats on the floating market would hang the items for sale on poles to indicate what each boat was selling.
To be honest the floating market was a jumbled bunch of boats and not as impressive as it sounds. We then headed up the river to a fruit plantation and factory where rice paper and rice noodles are made. The fruit farm was really nice where we got to see guava, mango, clementine, cashews, jackfruit and numerous other trees.
The rice paper making process was very interesting, comprised of two people - one person feeding the fire underneath the hotplate (with the husk from rice) and laying the rice paper onto bamboo trays to dry and one person forming the rice paper onto the hotplate.We then were able to purchase some fruit and have a little lunch of yummy Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepes or country pancakes).We then headed back to the bus and split into groups of those heading back to Saigon and those heading further south for another day of the Mekong and us. We were headed to the coastal town of Rach Gia before heading on to the island of Phu Quoc. All in all we felt the Mekong was an opportunity to see another part of Vietnam; to see scenery unlike what we’ve seen so far. Would we suggest doing the tour of the Mekong? If you’re want to see the extra sites of the coconut farm, the fruit farm and the rice paper factory, then you will need to book a tour. But in our opinion the best part of the tour was floating through the narrow waterways and seeing life that happens on the banks of the Mekong, something you may not need to book a tour to do, but does make it easier. Here are a few of our favorite sights.
RelaxingFloating Café

Loading Coconuts
Man on Boat

Family GroomingTraffic JamBath TimeNap Time Pier LaundryRow HousesRiverfront PropertyPropellersBike CommuterBambooWalkwayLife

1 comment:

christineburgess said...

I am so glad to see that Vietnam has recovered from the war. I am of the age that those memories are vivid and now I can replace those with your pictures of peace and beauty- thankyou.