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Published: March 12th 2014
Early start for our Mekong Delta day trip which for ease we booked through the hotel. The 20-seater coach picked us up from the hotel at 7.30am and we stopped at a couple more hotels to pick up the rest of the passengers. Our guide was Tommy, a Vietnamese with excellent English, a wicked sense of humour and a very expressive face especially when he winked. He entertained us along the way with humourous snippets of information.
We stopped after a couple of hours to “sing a song”, as he referred to it, at a Craft complex of course. Stop was really not long enough for any serious shopping and indeed, if we had intended souvenir shopping this trip, we would have been disappointed as Tommy kept us on the move past quite a number of souvenir stalls later without giving us time to browse.
The Mekong and its boat stations was only a few more minutes further along so we piled out of the bus and onto a boat. This took us across the mighty Mekong river to one of the islands in the middle. Here we visited a honey farm and sampled honey tea which was
surprisingly good, green tea plus honey and kumquat juice.
Back to the boat for a visit further along the island where we stopped to sample local fruits while we were entertained by musicians. We then walked along a narrow path, crocodile fashion, until we reached a narrow strip of river. Here we boarded canoes with 2 locals rowing, with long oars, front and back and 4 passengers per boat. We travelled down the very narrow stretch of river through high muddy banks for about a mile until we came to the island’s coast and reboarded our big boat.
We sailed a little further across the Meking to another island. Here we first of all visited a coconut candy “factory” shop. They use every part of a coconut in this area, the leaves for shelter, nut shells for burning, milk for drinking and flesh for food. Not sure we liked the candy they made by boiling the crushed coconut in its milk then adding flavouring but we bought a bar just to show willing.
Then to another form of transport, a little carriage for 4 people and driver behind what was really a very small horse. Ours,
poor thing, was slow and we were overtaken by all the others though we were travelling for a good mile right down the village street at a very fast trot. Felt sorry for the horse but consoled ourselves with knowing that if the horse had not been pulling us it would have been someone’s dinner.
Nothing edible goes to waste here. There are plenty of dogs as pets but they are not sentimental about their animals, they regard them as just that, animals. A history of poverty and scant food supplies would surely explain that. We note though that there seems to be a lot of eating going on nowadays and suspect that the currently skinny Vietnamese will all be a size or two larger in the next generation.
Speaking of food, that is what we did next. We stopped at a ‘restaurant’ at the end of a track, by a river channel, and ate a set meal of rice, meat and spring rolls. We were given the option of adding other delicacies – elephant’s ear fish, snake, crocodile, squirrel, frog etc. but decided to stick with what we had. Tommy had given us an hour so
Bob and I went for a look around. I wandered up a little track on my own, Bob then had to come looking for me as the group were returning to the boat before the hour was up.
Next trip on the river was in another small boat down the narrow stretches of very slimy muddy river with water coconuts hanging from the banks of either side then back to our main boat to cross the Mekong and back to our coach for the ride home. Should note that the coach though reasonably comfortable did have quite narrow seats so we were quite pleased to get back to the hotel after another 2 hour trip.
We found a super place to eat dinner that night, the MZ Bar, one we had spotted from the coach as we drove in from our trip. Lovely atmosphere and we were entertained by a violin and pianist. Quick stroll round the block was then quite enough to finish off a very good, but pretty exhausting day.
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