Friday, March 10, 2023

Mekong Delta Day 1

Off for the next 2 nights in the Mekong Delta.  My recollection of some things we were told may be a bit off, it has been quite the journey, but these are my memories and I'm sticking to them.

We are the first ones to breakfast at 7am this morning, saw what others had the last couple of days. We haven't missed much. 

Breakfast done and go around the corner to drop off laundry for half price what the hotel charges. We will pick it up when we return in 3 nights.

Waiting for our pickup for a 3 day 2 night tour of Mekong Delta organized through Mr. Hien Huynh of Real Mekong Delta tours.

We have a driver named Mr. Nam and our tour guide is Duc, he is excellent. Had a good laugh when he showed up late this morning, he couldn't get a grab bike pickup, they closed the app for riders to have breakfast.

Traffic is crazy getting out of town, I can see why so many like scooters.

First stop is Can Giuoc, Long An wet market.  It was nice having someone with us that explained what some of the things are, especially fruit and vegetables,  so different than what we see at home. Duc tried to turn us around as we approached the wet market side, Andre would have none of that. I said I would just wander around fruit and veg, but Duc would have none of that, so off we all go through the wet section.  Once the floor got really wet Duc made us turn around. We continue along our way after Duc picks up Banh Mi as he hasn't had breakfast yet.

Duc pointed out the coffee hammocks along the way.  Hammocks set up for drivers to have a sleep and a coffee by the shopkeepers.  Coffee and sleep just aren't 2 words you hear together too often.

Next stop was at Cao Dai temple.  A religion we knew nothing about that was founded in Vietnam.  It mixes ideas from 3 religions combined, Taoism, Buddhism, and Catholic.  We really appreciated many of the beliefs Duc described to us. The temples are blue, red and yellow, so colorful.  It was a nice educational stop.

Next stop is for a scooter ride, good thing I have all this experience from last night XO tour ha ha.  Speaking of XO tour Duc sister is one of the girl drivers, and he has driven security backup for them as well.  We start our scooter tour at a homestay in Tanh Hoa.  Our first stop on the scooter ride was to cross the monkey bride to learn about rice harvesting.  Called monkey bridge as we look like monkeys crossing the bridge, again I am out of my comfort zone crossing this 'bridge' yikes.

 We see many structures set up for saliva nest swift/swallow birds, from what we understood the nests are harvested for medicinal purposes, and it is very expensive.  Now that we know what the buildings look like there are lots of them around.  1kilo gets around $3-4K dollars, and it takes about 100 nests to get 1K.  Recordings are played to attract the birds to these tall cement structures.

We have also seen many weddings set up along the drive today, you can tell by all the decorations of flowers outside the homes. Duc explained weddings to us about how the man goes to the woman's house for the proposal with both families.  The elders give advice to the couple getting married.  

Next stop on the scooter tour is a dragon fruit farm.  The fruit has just been harvested a couple of weeks ago and already so many new fruit forming.  Most of the flowers have fallen off, very pretty.  We got to sample some dragon fruit, these were red inside, we have only had white so far.  Red is much sweeter, and free lipstick for all!

Back to the homestead where we started our tour for lunch. So much food, we are treated like royal guests. View from table is over the rice field that has recently been harvested. There are jars of all kinds of things making wine?  Snake wine, seahorse wine, and lots of others that I didn't look closely at.  They did offer us some of their cherry wine which I did like, didn't ask to try any of the others. It was an absolutely delicious meal, but enough food for 6 of us instead of 3.

After lunch we were taken to a very loud boat ferry ride from Mytho.  We transferred to a small sampan which took us a short distance along a small canal to a coconut candy factory.  Sampled a few treats and really liked the one with ginger so we now have some candy if we ever need a snack on this trip.  We also found out this area is the only place with a coconut religion, yep coconut religion.  An interesting one.

Mr Nam picked us up at the candy factory and drove us to our homestay for the night.  When I made the reservation for this tour it clearly says rustic, no wifi, shared bathroom, no AC.  I prepared myself that I can do one night of this, remember 3 nights of no window in Saigon?  Anyway we arrive in this lush garden with 2 beautiful old homes.  One of the homes was moved here in 1911 and the other was on the property originally.  Our room, a queen and double bed in the room, beautiful bathroom, outside and inside shower, air conditioning, wifi and yes lots of windows, set up a bit like a motel behind the home.  What a nice surprise! Ut Trinh homestead is the name of the homestead.  

We explored the property.  The couple beside us checked in, they have biked (pedal bike) 50K today, and will do more than that tomorrow.  It is very flat, but oh so hot, too much for me.  They are celebrating their 20th anniversary, think we convinced them to do the XO tour when they go back to Saigon. There are 8 people staying in the homestay tonight, when it is full there are 50.  What a drastic difference between the apartments we saw yesterday on our XO tour and the home on this homestay.

We help prepare supper tonight starting with a cooking class.  We made the spring rolls and the omelet type meal.  We had about 4 or 5 other dishes that went along with these that luckily they prepared for us.  Most impressive was cooking over open wood fire in these things that looked like open clay pots.  It is a real art keeping the wood burning at the right temperature, wood is added, then removed, then added again, then removed, a smaller one added etc.  This open fire has gone on for so many years the burnt wood markings made the wall above the fire clay pots so black.

After dinner we went to sit by the water, but the mosquitos were coming out so decided to call it a night.  We are both exhausted, the naps in the car ride did not help me.  Off to bed really early, wow the advertised soft bed is a super hard bed.  We expected this on the trip, but this was hard.  

730 breakfast, sure it will be best breakfast yet, no empty platters

At the wet market, you can drive your scooter in the alleys

Baby chicken for sale

Crossing the Mekong river into the Mekong Delta

At the Pagoda,
Funeral hearse

In a traffic circle

Bird saliva nest buidling

Wendy enjoying the ride

Monkey bridge

More fun for Wendy

Rice on the edge of the canal, the field have been harvested.

Dragon fruit farm

Family tombstones on the edge of the road on their properties

No sun in the backyards

Amazing lunch

One of many river crossing

How much sweet potatoes can someone put on a scooter

Boat ride

Boat similar to ours


waiting for business

Our lady is boat rower

Drying bananas. takes 4 days

water coconut

Jack fruit

Wendy enjoying her tuk-tuk ride

Making coconut candies

Hand wrapped one by one

We drove by at least 1000 nurseries, no kidding, it went on forever

On the way to our homestay

Entrance from the canal to our homestay

Wendy getting cooking lessons

Delicious but could only eat about 1/2 of it

1 comment:

  1. what an amazing trip , so different. Rollande


We appreciate any comments/questions you would have or any stories about the places we visited.