Day 1: Bus Trip Torture
The morning we were due to leave Saigon and head to the Mekong Delta for our three day cruise, I woke up feeling horrid. This unfortunately meant that I wasn’t able to make best use of our final Intercontinental breakfast buffet. A real tragedy. What I did manage to eat promptly resurfaced about ten minutes before we were due to start on a three hour car trip to where our trip started in Cai Be. The car trip was torture – I felt every jolt and had to ask the driver to stop one one occasion so I cold be reacquainted with the little that was left in my stomach from the morning’s breakfast.
When we arrived at Cai Be after what felt like an eternity, we were transported to our boat and accommodation for the next three days, the Mekong Eyes. We had a lovely quaint little cabin which was where I spent the rest of the day in a cycle that went a bit like this…
Sleep, wake up, drink electrolyte drink, sleep, wake up, spew, drink electrolyte drink, sleep, wake up, spew etc.
So I will let Timmy tell you about day 1 of the tour.
Day 2: On the mend
Day 2 of the Mekong Delta, I could feel the life coming back and had had a whole night’s sleep with no trips to drive the porcelain bus. I even managed a bit of breakfast in the morning which was a welcome relief. I had visions the day before, of being so ill that Timmy and I would have to get off the boat at one of the stops and find a doctor and somewhere for me to recover. Thankfully that didn’t eventuate.
Our first activity for the day was a trip to the Can Tho floating markets. Here traders from as far as 100km away come and sell fruit and vegetables from their ramshackle boats. Whole families will cram in to tiny spaces for days at a time – living, eating and sleeping on the water so that they can sell their goods.
It was incredible to see pineapples, dragon fruit, pomelo, pumpkin, sweet potato etc piled high en mass. We tasted some fresh pineapple straight off a boat and saw it cut up in front of us by one of the traders with a huge meat clever. (Gentlemen, dont cross this lady, she knows how to handle a knife with slick precision.) It was so sweet and juicy and a lot less acidic that our pineapple back home.
After the floating market, we headed to the market on land. This one had far more variety – selling pretty much anything you could imagine. All kinds of seafood – living and dead, an amazing array of colourful fruit and veg, meats and all different kinds (and parts) of animals, grain and rice, clothes, nick knacks and the list goes on. I found myself wishing we had a market like that back home, it put even the VIC market to shame in terms of variety. The fruit and veg was so vibrant and fresh, it even inspired me to want to cook.
Following the markets, we had time to relax on the boat and then lunch. The food on the boat wasn’t spectacular, probably the least impressive we’ve had in Vietnam so far. This was followed by an afternoon trip to a local village where we were taken into a Vietnamese family’s home and treated to a tour and some fresh fruit and home made banana and gunger candy. It was amazing what they could grow on a small piece of land. They also kept a number of animals.
We were told that most the families in the area were primarily rice farmers, but what they grew and raised on their property was to supplement their income. Depending on the yield from the rice crop, a families annual income could vary quite a lot a got the impression, so they need to be agile and earn income in other ways if necessary. When I asked our guide what an average income would be, he said for a family of eight with about 5 acres of land, about $1000 a year.
It was an interesting day all up and so I was told, better than day 1. So I didn’t miss much thankfully.
Day 3: Cone Hats and Crazy Fish
Day three of the Mekong Delta was much the same as day two. We cruised back to where we left off in Cai Be and went to the Cai Be floating market, which was no where near as good as the Can Tho one.
We then were taken along a small Mekong stream in these tradional shallow water rowing boats – complete with conical hats. Following this we had lunch at this ancient house where we were served some crazy looking fried fish which we then rolled up into rice paper rolls. It was the best meal we’d had the whole trip.
It was then time to head back to Saigon where we had a long wait in the airport before flying to Danang to head to Hoi An