Day 8: Cruising the Mekong
Hoi An - Saigon. Fly to Saigon and drive to the Mekong Delta. The fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as its fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long we’ll cruise downstream from Cai Be through the maze of waterways watching the hubbub of daily life on the river. Passing colourful trading boats, house boats and children swimming we stop to visit some of the local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Day 9: Mekong & Saigon
Can Tho - Saigon. Early this morning we visit the lively Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. On a walking tour of the city we’ll visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
So once again it was up early for our flight....too early! Our wake up call was 4:15am. We shuffled out to the bus, most still complete zombies and headed to the airport. We had a quick 45 minute flight to Saigon. Unlike a usual trip where you head from the airport to the hotel and freshen up; we where right at it! We boarded a boat and cruised down the Mekong Delta. I tried to picture this river during the war, but it is lively and beautiful. Its houses, shops, and gas stations a stark contrast to the thick jungle our troops fought in during the war.
We stopped to see how a local family makes rice products. They pop rice in sand that is heated over a fire fueled by rice husks. The used rice for everything; rice paper, rice wine, rice candy (rice crispy treats; although less sweet), and of course to eat for meals. The people were warm and inviting as I have found all Vietnamese to be; of course this is always leading to a sales pitch of some kind. But they are living a tough life and trying, so hard, so desperately to better their lives; mostly for their children.
We head back to our boat and farther down the Mekong Delta. It is peaceful and quite. Occasionally we pass a house than stands out as much as this ship of foreigners; simply out of place; a palace by the standards of living here. We stop and tie up; walk through a path in the jungle to one such home....
We are told it was the riches Frenchman's house built during their occupation. It is exquisite and the staff is welcoming. We stay for lunch and enjoy the seclusion, it is hot out but the shaded home stays cool with just the use of fans and natural breeze.
We enjoy the fresh ingredients, all local, as they pop with flavor and although simple and few; are spectacular. We head home and explore the town that evening. In the morning we go to the floating market. It is a combination of all the fruits and vegetables grown here. They also are catering to tourist; who are easy to spot in out large boats.....among other tell tale signs. We buy some mango off a boat which the man cuts into pieces and we share amongst ourselves. It is nice; although I still feel a bit sad seeing how tough these people live; but they seem to be happy overall. I would assume that we have far different values of what is important in life.....and that's something I have thought of often in the last few weeks.....
I leave you with some simple pictures, I hope they show you the beauty here.....