After a few days wandering around Ho Chi Minh city and getting over any jetlag. We booked a day tour along the Meekong to cross the boarders into Cambodia. It was off season when we did this but its pretty easy to book and most hotels in Vietam are also set up as tour companies too, all varying in price so I advise you shop around and barter for a price you are happy with.
Because it was off season during our trip, there was only one boat selling fruit, so sadly no floating market for us. However the experience was lovely and our guide made our experience easy. Taking us to a couple of stops along the way to the Cambodian boarder and lunch in a small town situated along the Meekong.
In addition to the tropical climate found here, the Mekong Delta gives the area unique landscapes, particularly charming characteristics, and a special floating lifestyle of the people. Pay a visit to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and it’ll be a unique experience.
Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and the 7th longest in Asia. It runs through 6 countries in total (China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) and locals of different countries have given it different names that mean different things. The Vietnamese call it as the Nine Dragons River (Song Cuu Long) due to the separation of the river into 9 arms. 9 dragons to the Vietnamese mean 9 rivers. However, there are only 7 river branches left nowadays as one branch was blocked off by human intervention since it had some negative effects on the life of people there. The other one was blocked off naturally.
Since the very beginning, it was the Khmer people that settled right next to the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. Later on, through the emigrating during the invasion and the wars, the land welcomed the Kinh community (Viet people) and Chinese. Now, it is a mix of 3 different communities, but the Khmer’s culture still has a strong effect on the life here.
Local residents have adapted to such an amount of water by coming up with floating houses and floating markets. Try picture these. They are basically houses and shops on boats that people live in without going offshore much. Because of this floating lifestyle, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam has intrigued not only foreigners but also local travelers who have never heard of this before.
Traveling is not only about the places you go to but also about the people you meet and the cultures you experience. Choosing to visit the Mekong Delta means you’re giving yourselves a chance to experience the authentic lives of locals that depend on the river to make a living. And believe me, people on this land are just so special. They are so friendly and won’t hesitate to help you with directions if you need, or even welcome you over to their home for a lunch or the night – all without asking for anything in return. They are not competitive – they are happy with the life they are living even though it isn’t that easy. The Mekong Delta will welcome you with peace and an escape from the cars, the traffic noise and incessant honking of motorbikes you find in the major cities.
As part of our tour we stopped off by a local restaurant and fisherman living with his family on board a floating house with holes in his floor that act as either tanks to store fish or as a way to go fishing. Learning about local way of life along this river was really fascinating.
Another pitstop involved a walk around a local village to observe the women working on their craft and to play with the kids in the school playground. This was a gorgeous highlight to the tour and I wish we’d had an overnight stay with a local family here, meeting people from all walks of life is something I cherish very much.
What should you eat in the Mekong Delta? It is so hard to answer that question because there re so many delicacies, but let me try. Providing 70% of the fruits consumed throughout Vietnam, where else in the country can satisfy your craving of fruits other than the Mekong Delta? There are a dozen different kinds of tropical fruits that are grown here that it’s impractical to list them all but here are a few: pomelo, orange, coconut, water coconut, mango, star apple, pineapple, longan fruit, rambutan, jackfruit, mangosteen, soursop, plum, banana, dragon fruit, and durian. Now I feel out of breath. By the way, you can even eat these fresh from the tree if you pay a visit to a local orchard. Fish is also big on the menu here so Vegetarians and
Pescetarians will be happy here.
The locals are also very resourceful – coming up with different ways of incorporating these delicious fruits into dishes. For example, banana can be eaten fresh, or grilled, or covered by sticky rice then grilled and draped over with coconut milk. Coconut can be had fresh, or blended as a smoothie, or processed to become dried coconut candy.
The Meekong Delta tour was definatley a highlight of our 3 weeks in Vietnam enough though we didn’t see much of the floating market it was still enchanting. This is also a very popular way tourists can enter into Cambodia, just make sure you research all the tips and advice you need in order to do so, make sure you find a company that offers this because some tour operators don’t.
Bundles of fruit, water, smiley locals, tropical climate and a soothing boat ride, what’s not to love?
Check out my write up about Ho Chi Minh City
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