Saigon-Can Tho

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February 8th 2014
Published: February 9th 2014
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Today we started what is the beginning of a 3 day/2 night Mekong delta tour that will lead us up the Mekong into Cambodia. Travel in this region is difficult so we took the guesswork out of it and booked with an agency ($70 pp) that included tours, meals, lodging and boat and bus transportation.

A 2 hr. drive out of Saigon brought us to My Tho, considered the gateway to the Mekong (the river of nine dragons). The Mekong delta is considered Vietnam’s “rice basket” and consists of endless canals and waterways linking the jungle with green fields of rice. The mighty Mekong river is the 12th largest river in the world and flows through this region after winding it’s way from the Tibetan plateau.

We boarded a ferry to Ben Tre, crossing the chocolate brown Mekong riverlined with ramshackle wooden homes on stilts. We visited Unicorn and Phoenix islands, stopping at several destinations to include a canoe trip through the interior canals, a horse drawn cart ride, sampling exotic fruits from an orchard while we were serenaded by locals singing traditional music, tasting some local honey and shown beehives that are kept there, and got to play with a boa constrictor from the nearby snake farm where they harvest snakes for food and to stuff in bottles of local wine. Lastly we stopped at a coconut candy factory, which consisted of a few grass huts and several women boiling cauldrons of sticky coconut mixture, rolling it out, and then cutting it and wrapping each piece individually by hand. Ben Tre coconut candy is famous throughout Asia.

We split off from the rest of our group and boarded a bus to continue on to Can Tho for the evening. The bus only had two other tourists on it and after getting to know them found out that one of the girls is teaching English in Can Tho has family from Brielle and Rahway NJ, such a small world.

We enjoyed walking along the waterfront in Can Tho for the evening, sampling various fruit and bread trfeats from the food market. We learned that the Mekong region eats lots of crocodile, turtles, frogs, eels, snakes and rats. Every menu we saw included some sort of rat entrée such as rat satay and grilled curry rat. Most of these animals are kept live in tanks in the restaurants
and in the markets. Every night we wander the market we find something that is disturbing to see, last night Dennis thought he saw deep fried baby chicks. Usually I try not to look closely and just quickly glance at the different stalls.

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