Into the Delta

We entered the Vietnamese Mekong Delta using the only proper way, which obviously is by the boat. Mekong is really wide. We couldn’t see much of what’s going on on the river banks. Only later, on the Vietnamese side of the border, did we have a chance to see the life bustling in the canals, as well as, yet another, Mekong sunset.

As it happens, while crossing the border on the boat, we had preconceived notions about Vietnam floating in our heads. We should swear never to listen to other tourists’ opinions again, or rather to nay-sayers in general, for it didn’t take long for Vietnam to cast away all our doubts. The Mekong Delta provided everything we like and expect from a trip and more. We got immediately pulled into this cauldron and let go, giving the region a chance to show what it has to offer. The people are open and have no inferiority complex. They live in a different way and in a different reality, and that’s fine. They are eager to get to know us and curious about our plans. The place is exotic enough to fascinate us and the nature is untamed. Also, there is an incredible abundance of really cheap food.

It seems to us best things happen with no camera around. Like the time we stumbled upon a pretty well-hidden seafood restaurant with tanks full of giant prawns, crabs, clams and what not. And no sooner did we finish our grilled delicacies and Saigon lagers than the occupants of the nearby table decided to join us. There was more food and beer to ease the language barrier. Or the time when, in a city where there supposedly were no good restaurants, we found a pho place with two gigantic pots on a wood-burning stove and while we were devouring the delicious soup, the cooks began pulling out two full buckets of huge bones from the pots. No skimping on the base, let me tell you. These are also the times we got to watch the colorful menagerie of the streets — people napping in absurd positions, folks reading newspapers in front of their shops, children obliviously playing or a lady offering us fruits before she is even ready to start a conversation. We see these snapshots one after the other and without a camera we feel a part of this world rather than intruders.

The life in the delta happens on land as well as on water. The floating markets, a main tourist attraction here, are, to some extent, a thing of the past, but the canals still offer a plethora of interesting sights and insights, an irresistible mixture of beauty and ugliness. Boats here have eyes, whole families live inside them, with chickens to boot.

It is said that the delta is the “rice bowl” of Vietnam, delivering a huge portion of food the Vietnamese consume. While on a moto-taxi or a bus, traveling through a beautiful area between An Binh and Ben Tre, we see little of the rice fields, but there are endless orchards of rambutan, longan, coconut and water apples. There are many seedling nurseries and gardens as well. The life force here is unstoppable and plants explode from every patch of ground.

We can see more clearly now that our perception of reality depends on how we feel and that what we see is also a reflection of how we feel. Paradoxically, when we feel good now in our travels and experience more, we also miss home and people close to us more. We travel on…

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20131229-IMGP5607-mekong delta boys

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water apple orchard

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last mekong sunset x veitnamese hat ania

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vietnamese straw hat marcin x floating market cabbage

mekong delta floating rooster

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mekong sunset

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3 Comments

  1. mariana June 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Hi! great pictures!
    Did you do the mekong delta with a tour or independently? Can you give me some tips?
    How much time did you spent and where exactly?
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    1. Two hungry people June 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Thanks,
      we did it independently but to see the canals which are quite dirty but enjoyable nonetheless hired a boat at the hotel. about 20 dollars but i can’t remember exactly. tips? the delta is verdant, very beautiful. i’d go hiking.

      Reply
      1. Two hungry people June 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

        We traveled through Chau Doc -> Can Tho -> Vinh Long -> An Binh (island across the river from Vinh Long) -> Ben Tre. We were not in a hurry so we stayed around 10 days but almost everyone else did the delta much quicker. There was great food everywhere in local seafood restaurants not meant for tourists and in the streets, you just have to wander and look around.

        We went on a boat to see the floating markets twice, once in Can Tho and later near An Binh (Cai Be market). Both trips were nice but the second market is not worth seeing, better go from Can Tho. You can usually pay for the boat in a guesthouse/homestay and they do the trips to markets combined with seeing coconut candy / rice paper factories etc. You can also just go near the river and find someone who can take you but it won’t be much cheaper.

        In Can Tho we went on a food tour http://mekongtours.info/cantho-food-tour/. In An Binh we stayed in a kind of a village homestay but I had a cold so didn’t do much sightseeing. I think it’s worth to explore there on a bike, beautiful, green area full of canals, fruit trees and not much tourists at all. It looked amazing when we were traveling on a motorcycle in the direction of Ben Tre.

        In Ben Tre we only explored the town, it is not much of a attraction itself but the people were so nice like everywhere in the delta, and the food really good, although the first impression is that there’s nowhere to eat.

        The Delta is not really about any particular attraction. It’s peaceful, green, exotic, cheap and a little off the beaten path, so you can see some more authentic and less developed piece of Vietnam. Local people were really a highlight there, especially comparing to sometimes more hostile northern Vietnamese.

        Anna

        Reply

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