Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mekong Delta – Day 1 (May 3)

After two months of staying put in HCMC, The Boyfriend and I booked a tour through the Mekong Delta with Sinh Café for the weekend. The two day/one night tour cost us 400,000 dong each (about $25 USD), which is actually an inflated price due to the holidays on the previous Wednesday and Thursday (April 30 was Liberation Day/Reunification Day and May 1 was International Labour Day). This included transportation, accommodations, a complimentary t-shirt, water bottle, pack of peanuts, lunch on the first day and breakfast on the second day. How can you complain? (ok, so I can always complain…)

Mekong Delta is the southernmost region of Vietnam. It is known for its rice production and its fertile soils that produce delicious, tropical fruit.

We left at 8 am from the Sinh Café office. It was crazy mayhem with people everywhere, but we were able to jump on the right bus. It took 2.5 hours to get to Cai Be. We got on a boat to go to the Cai Be floating market. By the time we arrived, it was too late for any market activity. No worries, we’d get to wake up early the next day to check out another market.

View from our boat. The pictures came out rather glum due the combination of grey skies and murky water. Our tour guide assured us that the brown colour is due to silt. Sure… I would still NOT be willing to jump in, thank you very much.

A woman selling pineapple from her boat.

Pumpkin boat. You can tell what vendors sell by what is hung on their poles.

We next visited, by boat, various factories producing candies, rice paper and Vietnamese rice krispies. The pictures speak for themselves:

Banh trang (rice paper) laid to dry.

Mixture to make coconut candies.

Keo dua (coconut candies). The candies tasted like coconut-flavoured salt water taffy: lots of chewing and stickiness! There must have been collusion in this area; wherever we went, everything cost 15,000 dong (various candies, crips, crackers). Even though this seemed like a lot for Vietnam, I bought 6 packs of candies (buy 5, get one free!)

Coconut and banana crisps. These banh were also produced and sold. The coconut ones were very crispy while the banana ones were a bit chewy. The sesame flavour came through in both. Add two packs of these to the candies!

Vietnamese rice krispies. Rice is “popped” using a traditional heating method. The rice is placed with sand in a big wok. The sand is used as a heat source and the rice is sifted once it’s popped. The rice krispies are then made by combining the rice with a syrup.

After lunch, we had half an hour to check out the market in Vinh Long. Finally, we crossed the Mekong River by ferry to Can Tho.

Ferry crossing. This is actually a picture on our way back, but the ferry was just as jam packed on our way there!

Can Tho Show. After dinner, we heard singing on Hai Ba Trung St. and decided to check out the show. Families on motorbikes were gathered in front of the stage, watching the various acts. This picture is not very clear; I was trying to capture the motorbikes zooming by, right in front of the stage!

Finally, here’s my whining! We stayed in Can Tho for the night. For the price we paid, we didn’t expect much from our hotel and our expectations were met! That the room was small, far from the centre of town, the bed was uncomfortable and there was no hot water was expected. That ants were crawling everywhere (on our bags, and even on The Boyfriend!!), not so good. We did have AC, but the machine made rhythmic sounds that is really hard to ignore when you cannot fall asleep. Oh well, what can you expect for 25 do-la?

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