We concluded our Ho Chi Minh city tour, spending the entire day for it, thinking we had seen most of the landmarks. So the following day, we were thinking of another Vietnam destination that are hailed as a must-see. While we were in the post office, we saw a tour operating one for a Mekong Delta trip; tour operator being Phuong Nam Viet Travel.
We left the hotel at 6:15 am as we had to go to another hotel where the tour bus is located and we thought it would give us ample time to try to find the place. We were there around 730 am but we waited until about 930 before we were called to board, when they had actually told us that the tour would start at 830 am. Not only that, we actually didn’t board yet but we walked together with the driver to pick up other passengers on neighboring hotels before we actually went to the bus. They were also having a bit of confusion as they asked us, about 20ish of us, to board the bus when it was actually full!
Finally boarded the bus! We were seated all the way to the back.
Mekong River is an interesting river as it encompasses or is a trans boundary river between 6 countries: China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and of course, Vietnam. It is the world’s 12th longest river and Asia’s 7th. Its waterways serve as a channel for people carrying goods and to navigate through communities via boats which still transpires today. So we say, this experience must be nice to try.
From HCM, it was roughly about 2 hours bus ride going to Mekong specifically My Tho. On the way, I saw similar sceneries when going from Manila to nearby provinces such as Laguna, Batangas or Bulacan. Green, lush rice paddies and fields on different sides of the roads, “sari-sari” stores everywhere (convenient store), vulcanizing shops, carabaos and stray dogs as well. We reached a stop where we could buy some refreshments, a break for 15 minutes. We bought iced white coffee and iced local coffee for ourselves before we resumed with the road trip.
And so we had reached the port where the boats were located and hopped into it. I was quite surprised to see the Mekong river as a brown, murky water – yes, it is brown all over. It actually felt eery for me! lol. But then I thought this might be a different experience to my usual boat rides along crystal blue and pristine waters of Philippines.
For the day, we were told that we would be visiting some islands which are called Con Lan (Unicorn Island), Con Long (Dragon Island) and Con Phung (Phoenix Island).
And so the tour guide talked us through the Mekong day tour and the Mekong per se until we had reached a stop to get some drinks. The place is more like a bee farm where they culture bees, produce honey and sell them.
While the tour guide was talking us through, we were prepared with a hot and soothing tea, poured into shot glasses, one that I really liked during this trip.
She initially poured in honey into the shot glasses. Followed by the bee pollen. It is said that this has various health benefits such as anti-inflammatory, it aids digestion due to its enzymes, supports the cardiovascular system and so on. Afterwhich, she poured a hot tea which tastes gingery though I can’t say what specifically it was. Lastly, she drizzled some small lime juice. Next round, we did it ourselves and I think I had many shots. lol
Next stop was Que Dua which is a place manufacturing coconut based goodies. We were walked through the process of how they create coconut candies.
There was also this painter which we chanced upon at the back end of the place and I noticed that all his paintings are different houses, which I find quite interesting.
Up next, lunch! We headed to Con Phung where we would be having our free meals. Guess what were in the menu?
Snakes, crocodiles and ostriches are part of the menu! LOL
Since this a tour, we of course, got a very very very plain dish.
After we had finished our meal, my friend and I were still not satisfied haha! We felt like we still need to eat more, so we ordered ourselves their popular fried fish, which would then be paid out of our pockets.
The fish was served together with noodles, lettuce and rice paper!
So the way the fish should be eaten is to slice a portion of it, get some of the leafy veggie and noodles, pour some of the sweet and spicy sauce and wrap it and roll it in the rice paper. Now, this one, satisfied my palate! It was really good and I can’t stop eating it. haha
After our lunch, the Mekong river boat ride begun! We hopped out of our tour boat and into the wooden rowing boats, four in a group, together with two local paddlers. I got quite scared at first as a bit of movement would cause the boat to sway. So I composed myself, relaxed and stayed put into the boat together with the local hat! 😀
Palm trees rooted from both sides of the banks arched and met up each other, forming a shade and limiting our view of the sky. Rivulets on the sides of the main waterways, boats, paddlers and passengers passing by one another coming from opposite directions, paddlers rowing in unison, a nice vista of boats with everyone wearing the hat, murky waters which at this point I didn’t mind anymore, houses balanced on stilts, children on hammock perched on two wooden poles where they don’t mind that right below them are murky waters, narrow waterways causing boats to somehow bump into each other, passengers sitting steadily enjoying the boat ride. These were the experiences that were captured during my boat ride along the Mekong river.
Boats were also parked in the same waterways, causing a bit of a jam to the moving ones.
Right at the endpoint of the channel is a place where you can dine it and try out the tropical fruits that came in bounty through the delta, be serenaded by local singers and buy some more souvenirs.
The Mekong River is not your scenic tourist attraction, if one is not into the type of trips where you had to sweat through the tour because of the heat and hopping in and out of the boat and rowing through murky waters, then you might have to think twice before heading here. As for me, be it a scenic place or not, one’s destination is always about experience and trying out, seeing and feeling different cultures and traditions and getting acquainted with others’ ways of livings, things that you could only experience once in a while but will be instilled in you for the rest of your life. Rowing through this river has opened up my eyes once more, that despite most usual cities being updated and people getting more and more modernized, there are still some parts of the world living out in their traditional ways, but you can’t say they’re not contented with it. 🙂