For our final day in Vietnam before our 23+ hour itinerary home tomorrow, we headed to the Mekong delta, which is where the Mekong finally ends after its long journey from Tibet down through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The trip was a good one, and we started off by meeting the group and driving through the rice fields on the way to our boat.
Our first stop on the Mekong was an island, where we were able to see tropical fruits growing in their natural habitat and got to hear local music and learn to play the local instruments.
Then, it was on to the eco-bee farm, where we saw how the Vietnamese house their bees and then produce honey. It was actually really neat to see the bees busily working, but not interesting in swarming or stinging us. We tried a traditional tea that is essentially honey, kumquat, and green tea with bee pollen. It coats the back of your throat and has a fairly nice flavor.
Then, we took a short boat ride up the Mekong, where we went to a coconut candy factory, where they have been producing coconut candies for many years. Now, they have introduced some mechanized production, but it was still incredible seeing a man pull all of the coconut flesh out of the coconut in one fell swoop and the women individually wrapping the candies first in rice paper and then in the formal wrapping.
Then, we rode in a motorized open-back truck up the island to a small restaurant where we tried a couple local specialities, including a fully fried fish which they then wrapped into little spring rolls for us with pineapple, mint, carrots, and rice noodles, and a soup with tomato and fish and a very sweet broth. Interestingly, southern Vietnam has the sweetest food, while the middle cities, like Hoi An, have the spiciest. Hanoi is known for having salty food.
Then, it was a short ride in a traditional row boat up the Mekong, and back to our boat to then ride back through the beautiful rice fields to end the day.
Overall, it was a good day trip and our guide did a really great job of pointing out places for us to stop and try other foods (he gave a great bakery recommendation, as well). It was interesting also seeing some of the parts of Vietnamese culture which aren’t apparent in the city, such as the religious themes that are apparent in the rice fields. People practice a mix of Buddhism, Christianity and Chinese religion, so they have adopted practices like burying the dead, but do so in their rice fields. Then, they burn ritual items, such as paper cars or paper money, to make sure that their ancestors are well accounted for in the afterlife. I can’t imagine life in the Mekong delta is easy, but the people were very friendly and seem to have a nice community with each other as well.
For dinner, we went to a local restaurant where we tried variations on some dishes we’ve had before, like spring rolls, the garlic fried marigolds, and claypot pork. Overall, its been a good trip in Asia, but tomorrow we head home. I’ll try to update the blog more frequently if I go on anymore fun international adventures in the meantime.