The Mighty Mekong

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January 18th 2007
Published: January 20th 2007
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Aboard our little boats, we glided through these awesome palm groves.
From Ho Chi Minh City, we signed up for a two day boat tour through the Mekong Delta, Known as “Nine Dragon river delta” in Vietnamese. Having only really seen the Fraser River delta back home, I was blown away by the scale of the Mekong. It’s one of the largest deltas in the world, and basically keeps the entire country of Vietnam fed, with enough additional goods for export.

On our first day we hopped on a large sized boat and toured some of the islands scattered around the main arm of the river. Fishing boats are everywhere contributing to the busy way of life on the river. We arrived at one of the hundreds of branching smaller rivers and hopped onto smaller paddle boats for a tour through a really cool palm grove. Equipped with sun hats and our cameras we got to see how the people lived around the river.

Our next stop was deep in the palm jungle at a little candy factory where they make coconut and chocolate candies, kind of like toffee; super good! There we got to play with the pythons (sounds a little strange) and check out some bee boxes they
Mighty MekongMighty MekongMighty Mekong

Not nearly the biggest tributary, but a cool shot around sunset.
use to make honey. We tried to get Ryan to hold the snake but he quickly threatened us with violence when confronted, I imagine I would have a similar reaction if someone tried to put a bird eating spider on my shoulder…

We continued on through the labyrinth of waterways to another stop where we had a chance to taste a medley of local fresh fruits. Many were very tasty, and others were acquired tastes. Here we got to see some traditional Vietnamese music performed live for us and it was a pleasant addition to our snack.

In the late afternoon we hopped back on the large boat and made our way back to civilization and took a bus farther across the delta on ferries and bridges. We spent the night in a cool river town called Con Tha where we were finally able to catch up on sleep after many late nights and early mornings. For dinner we wimped out and ate Italian food, opting out of the turtle, eel and snake offered at the guesthouse.

The next morning we boarded medium sized boats which brought us to the floating market. The market is really cool

At the rice paper "factory" there was a family of piggies, this fella posed well!
and very busy. Large merchant boats are anchored and scattered all round the river, smaller boats are whizzing around delivering things and bringing people about. Each boat has a pole erected at its stern declaring its merchandise, which is hung from the pole and viewable from a distance. We wound through the boats checking out the busy market and then moved on up the river to another waterway. There must be a thousand different branches of water around the delta, it’s overwhelming…

About 15 minutes into the channel we stopped at a rice paper factory where we saw the full scale production of rice paper. The process: crush the rice, soak the rice, mix it with tapioca plant, boil the mixture, spread the paste it out onto a steamer, transfer it to mats, and let dry. Oddly enough there were a bunch of pigs at the factory, big 200kg suckers; we got some pretty funny photos.

Our last leg of the tour was through a channel, the shores of which were full of banana plants. Little did I know that only one bunch of bananas grows per tree, and they’re actually an herb, not a tree. The bananas
Slither SlitherSlither SlitherSlither Slither

This moderately large python was ..interesting... to handle. He told me before that he wouldn't bite me, but he made no promises about constricting my arm - which he did several times.
over here are super sweet and about 1/3 of the size of the huge mutated ones we get at home.

Along the shores we got to see lots of local Vietnamese at work and at play. Everyone that lives in the delta depends so much on the river. It flows all the way from China, through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and finally meets the South China Sea on the shores of Vietnam. There are a lot of issues surrounding the river and its future, with a few countries beginning to build dams and therefore preventing sediment from flowing freely, and therefore really screwing over the Vietnamese and their farms.

We are leaving the southwest corner of the country and are going to move east along the coast to the beach town of Mui Ne. Finally hitting some more beaches after being landlocked for a few weeks!

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Happy GuideHappy Guide
Happy Guide

She was our paddler for this leg of the tour, always with a smile on her face!
....Rollin on the River.......Rollin on the River...
....Rollin on the River...

Hiding from the hot sun under my fancy new hat!
More Coconuts!More Coconuts!
More Coconuts!

These things are just so good! After buying our straw hats, we depart on our tour.
Fruit TreeFruit Tree
Fruit Tree

Too bad there wasn't a real tree that yielded all these different fruits... These are the ones we tasted on our pit stop.
Floating MarketFloating Market
Floating Market

The river was clogged with scores of boats, all selling different fruits, veggies and meats.
Rice ShackRice Shack
Rice Shack

Vietnam is the third largest exporter of rice in the world, behind Thailand and America.
Les BananesLes Bananes
Les Bananes

Native bananas grow alongside this channel, on our way to the rice paper factory. How tempted I was to try and grab some...
Vietnamese RowerVietnamese Rower
Vietnamese Rower

Almost all the boat operators were women, and they sure know how to row! These boats are perfect for winding through the maze of rivulets.
Paper FieldPaper Field
Paper Field

Rice paper is left to dry under the sun in the last stage of production.
Motorcycle ManiaMotorcycle Mania
Motorcycle Mania

Buzzing away from a red light, the swarms of motorbikes really are unique to Saigon.

5th February 2007

mmm.. more rice!
woah now that is a river tour, sounds incredible.. gotta love floating, shopping and eating all simultaneously! i'd skip the snakes too i think..

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