February 26, day 10 – a about a 3 hour bus trip to the boat pier for a trip on the Mekong Delta. The region covers an area of 39000 sq. miles, and inhabits over seventeen and a half million people. It has the largest population of Khemer outside of Cambodia, and a large Chinese population, however, most living there are Vietnamese descendent. The land is very fertile, and is the largest agricultural producing area in Vietnam. It is a enormous area filled with rivers, swamps, and canals that crisscross through the islands like arteries. It’s not surprising then that the main transportation in this region is by boat, and believe me, their docks aren’t what they are at home.
Each time we disembarked we had new experiences to explore. The reason for sticking our finger into a hive of bees? To taste the honey of course, and it was so tasty. As for your finger going into the hive, and the bees buzzing wings hitting your fingers? … a little nerve racking to say the least! And the snake, well he was more calm than some of our group that held him. I’ve not posted the photos of when he was first put on my shoulders! These are things you just HAVE to try. Although I tried the snake wine, I did not purchase any – only because I didn’t know if I could get it back into Canada!
We did stop at a village where we were served up with some sort of wonderful tea, as well as local fruit. Everyone always seem to be eating and or snacking in this country. The dorian is considered by many as the king of fruit because of the size, however, there are signs in hotels all over the country that do not allow dorian in the rooms. You either really like the smell, or have intense disgust for it. Some describe the smell as in rotten onions or sewer, others describe it as being sweet, and the odor can remain long after the fruit has been removed. Most of the fruit we ate was delicious, although I have to say, was not a fan of the star fruit. Unfortunately I only took a video, no still shots of several villagers performed folk songs while we ate.
Later we did stop for lunch, and great food was once again served. However, no one went for the Elephant Ear Fish! Although I know it was not maggots all over it, it looked to be, so I had rice and vegetarian spring rolls! After traveling about on the waterways, Gary also elected to not have anything from freshwater, and had squid!
We went on a bit of a tuk tuk ride on an island as well, weaving in and out of the village, and pony drawn wagons. It was nice to feel the breeze, as the day was heating up, and with the humidity, and no wind – it was getting hot. We went for a bit of canoe ride up a canal as well. It was very quiet and relaxing – until a returning canoe came roaring around a corner using an engine! Obviously, by the height of the tires on the wall, I expect the water is much higher during the rainy season. The Candy factory was pretty impressive too…and what tedious work. Again, with machines doing most of the work in the modernized countries, here they do it all by hand, right down to fueling the fire with wood to cook the candy. The candies are cut into bite size pieces and then wrapped by hand once in a rice paper, and then in a plastic colored paper. It was appreciated as all four flavors were very scrumptious. The rice paper doesn’t come off very easily, but its rice paper…eat it!
The flora and fauna on these islands were just spectacular. Birds were everywhere, either in cages, or wild, and they seem to sing out to each other continually. From what we saw it is a much more relaxed lifestyle here than in the metropolitan city of Saigon.
Back onto the bus, we head back into Saigon and run into a torrential down pour, and thankfully it didn’t occur while we were on the river, or in the villages of Mekong Delta. You could see a half km in the rain. It was brutal. A couple of blocks were totally flooding, but the cars/bikes/scooters keep going! Once back in Saigon, things were wet, but the rain had quit. We went for a walk in the park, and then headed back to the hotel.
The next morning, after my newly favorite breakfast which includes noodles, we board a bus and head out for the Cambodia boarder. Although we have to walk across the boarder, they said it would be easy!