Mekong, Ho Chi Minh City
The best part, in my opinion, of our entire stay was our trip to the Mekong Delta. We started by driving to My Tho. My Tho is a town which was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing Taiwan when the general of the Qing Dynasty, Shi Lang, defeated the remnants of the Southern Ming Dynasty in 1683. This town had a market which was a photographer's dream. It rests on the My Tho River.
Bullocks are a common sight on the road and in the fields. The old traditional methods of farming are still upheld. Most of the rice farming is done by hand and bullocks.
Location : Mekong Delta Area
We passed this one heading down to the Mekong Delta. The Cao Dai religion is indigenous to Vietnam and is quite fascinating. Every aspect of Cao Daism reflects the fusion of Eastern and Western philosophies.
Respected so called 'saints' of the Cao Dai include Joan of Arc, Rene Descartes, William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Louis Pasteur, and Lenin.
Location : My Tho
My Tho is a Mekong delta town famous for its fruit orchards. It is some 70 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City. Until into the 17th century, My Tho was a town of the Khmer (Cambodians).
There is a Cao Dai temple there. If you do a tour to the Mekong Delta, you will go through My Tho. I think it's pronounced 'Me Tho'. You pass through some wonderful countryside down in this region.
Mekong Delta (Song Cuu Long, River of Nine Dragons) is the 'rice bowl' of the South. The urban sprawl ends abruptly and the Mekong begins. This is the most wealthy area of the country.
The South is well fed by the cultivation of the Mekong Delta. The Mekong river, which originates from Tibetan plateau flowing 4,500 km to Vietnam and to the sea with 9 different branches (nine dragons).
Thoi Son (Phung Islands) the tropical fruit island - lunch at Trung Luong restaurant for Fried Elephant-eared fish. I can tell you that I wasn't too keen on riding in this little boat (not fussed being that close to the water) and I positioned myself in the middle with both my feet bracing either side of the boat with strict instructions to the others not to move and rock the boat..:-)
The Mekong Delta is the main producer of tropical fruit for the country and at one of the fruit orchards we stopped at there was a plentiful array of all kinds of fruit for us to sample. Just the thing on a hot day.
Location : Thoi Son (Phung Islands), Mekong Delta.
This island was well known for fried Elephant Ear Fish - Delicious! This is very much a local delicacy although it originated from Indonesia. Fish farms in the area breed the fish.
Location : Thoi Son (Phung Islands) Mekong Delta
After the big lunch they serve you can wander around the beautiful gardens. There are many fruit trees and flowers and a couple of caged monkeys who are obviously well used to tourist and perform accordingly.
Location : Thoi Son (Phung Islands), Mekong Delta
We had only 2 days for Mekong Delta and selected Mekong Lodge as a base. The Mekong Lodge was a dream I dreamed. Lush vegetation, lots of tropical sun and rain, all about Mekong Delta in a beautiful place. I loved sitting in my room and watched boat passing by. The room was wonderful, clean and charming, especially the tree-trimmed pavilions and the tiny pigeon house shaped like boat. The food was excellent with awesome banana pancake for breakfast. Just got the recipe from resort manager and will try it soon.
All staffs were very thoughtful and courteous as everyone said. The tour around Cai Be was well organized and Mr Quang did a great job of giving us real insights into life of people here. They made my 2 day tour all excellent moments of relaxation and peace in an oasis of nature. Unfortunately we stayed only one night in this beautiful resort on the banks of the majestic Mekong River. We missed the fishing activity and the boat trip in several canals around the lodge. The lodge also has big boats for Mekong Delta Cruise. Sure, I will dream of it often and hope to come back soon!
After visting My Tho we boarded a boat and set out to explore the Mekong Delta. It was Hogmanay we had lunch in a little restaurant on an island and the local children played us Auld Lang Syne on their traditional musical instruments. As a Scot, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with homesickness; something I thought I would never again feel. We visited an island specialising in honey products, then one specialising in coconut products. Finally we drove back to HCMC past motorcycles laden down with families and chickens and flooded paddy fields filled with ducks and water lilies.
On day 6, we proceed to Thoi Son, a town in the Mekong Delta. We got to sample fresh fruits from the orchards, learn how the local people make the famous coconut candy and also look at how they extract honey from bees. We also had an enjoyable boat trip along Mekong River and was accompanied by a very good English-speaking Viet. guide.
Compared with those in South America, the jungle in and around the Mekong Delta is not forbidding. Much has been cut away; people live in and near what remains, on all the larger islands and some of the smaller ones as well.
It's like, on a smaller scale, the jungle that lies between the many branches of the Amazon before, at, and after Belem.
The most visited islands are dotted with souvenir shops and stands offering Coca Cola, Lays potato chips, and Viet snacks.
One of the stops that we made along the Mekong River was at a Ricer Paper making area. It starts from grinding white rice, processing the ricer paper, and then drying the rice paper.
These were traders on the Mekong River. There are still floating markets around on the river. Cruising down by boat gives you an insight into the local ritual of daily trading.