Mekong Delta

Trip Start Nov 29, 2008
Trip End Jan 18, 2009

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On Tuesday morning we headed out to the Mekong Delta for our one night in a local homestay. On the way there, we visited a small Cao Dai temple before boarding our boat. The boats in the Mekong region are painted with two eyes in the front--supposedly to ward off crocodiles. We stopped at Mr Kiet's Historic House for lunch--fried elephant ear fish! Very scary looking, but quite tasty.

After lunch we visited some cottage industries that produced local specialties like coconut candy, banana pancakes, and popped rice. The afternoon concluded with rowboat tours of some of the back channels of the delta. We arrived at our homestay around 4:30, giving us two hours to chill in the hammocks before dinner preparations, which started with making our own fresh spring rolls. After a delicious dinner (spring rolls, prawns, more elephant ear fish, fried pork), it was another hour or so in the hammocks before an early bedtime.

Up by 6:30 the next morning to take a brief stroll around the local markets. Very authentic experience--no tourist baubles for sale here. Instead, live fish, live chickens, many types of eggs, and all varieties of fruits and vegetables. A final meal of noodle soup for breakfast before bidding adieu to our host family and heading back up the Mekong to a crocodile farm, or "Roc-o-dire," as our guide calls them. Hundreds of crocodiles, lounging in the sun, snapping at the slightest provocation, blissfully unaware of their futures as food and shoes. We also caught the tail end of the floating market before getting back to our bus, and going back North to Saigon.

We arrived back early enough for me to visit the one major thing I wanted to do in Saigon but hadn't yet had a chance to, the Revolutionary Palace. Formerly the home of the South Vietnamese government, its fall heralded the official end of the Vietnamese War in 1975. Much of it has been left exactly as it was in that time, truly capturing history in a bottle.

The next day we visited the Cu Chi Tunnels and I went to the Holy See of Cao Dai, as detailed in the next blog entries.
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