Starting into the Mekong Delta

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June 8th 2005
Published: June 9th 2005
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We got off the boats early in the day and walked into a town to their market. It's always fun to see the big baskets of colorful fruits.
I ventured out of the city for a two day tour of the delta, and I have to say it was wonderful. I was almost sorry for it to end, but I was so exausted I needed the break. Those tours pack in a lot in a very short amount of time. In the morning i got on a bus with a bunch of other tourists and we drove out onto the delta. They put us on little motor boats: long traditional wooden boats and we started down the river. After several turns off the main waterway we were moved onto little, narrower wooden boats. Each boat was paddled by two women, one in the bow and another in the stern, almost like a canoe. We visited four islands, each named for an animal: Turtle, Dragon, Unicorn and Phoenix. We had lunch on Dragon Island, but the closest thing I saw to a dragon was a couple skinks. The other people on the tour were very intersting. There was a woman about my age from Vancouver, BC who was travelling alone. She just did a month in China and came down Vietnam from the North. There was an ex-Peace Corps volunteer
Paddling up the canalsPaddling up the canalsPaddling up the canals

I tried to catch a photo of the paddle, but she was too quick for me. it was very peaceful and quiet paddling up the canals.
from Rhode Island who did his service in Suriname. For the first time I wasn't the only American. The other people I made friends with were two women from Germany and a young couple from France. I ended up translating for the French couple a little, since English with a strong Vietnamese accent is fairly hard to understand. It's not so easy for me, so for those whose English isn't great to begin with have a much harder time. The guides here primarily speak English, so everybody has to know at least a little. It's strange to me that English can be more important for tourists here than Vientnamese. After lunch we toured through the canals a bit more, saw a coconut candy making workshop and listened to some traditional music and singing over tea. The singing was specific to the Mekong Delta and so was one of the insturments . They called it a "stalk" like of a plant because it's a long piece of wood, maybe two feet tall with only one string that the musician held upright in his lap and played with a bow. it was
Making Rice NoodlesMaking Rice NoodlesMaking Rice Noodles

We also visited a traditional workshop where they make rice paste, then spread it out to cook for a minute, then dry the circles and cut them into noodles. The fuel the stove burns is rice husks, in piles on the right. The woman covered up, working in the steam, wasn't even sweating.
beautiful. We spent that night in Cantho, and I was lucky enough to have a room to myself since there were no other women to share with. I was exausted and fell asleep immediately.

Additional photos below
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Floating MarketFloating Market
Floating Market

On the Mekong there are lots of areas designated as markets where the farmers and fishermen congregate to sell and trade. Many of the boats are also homes. Each boat puts whatever they're selling high up on a pole so buyers can see them from a distance.

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