Jungle, Rivers, Sampans and Orchards
Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
24Trip End Apr 15, 2011
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Tropical humidity is the name of the game here. Today we visited the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is about an hour and a half drive from Ho Chi Minh. It seems only government refers to this as Ho Chi Minh. The residents all call it Saigon, which is an ancient name and not something created by the French or the Americans. We drove through many small fish farms (they can't export the fish in these farms as it tastes too "muddy" and no one will buy it). We also drove through miles and miles of rice paddies. The don't export Vietnamese rice to the US as apparently the Thai rice is better. This is still farmed completely by hand, from planting to harvesting, with the help of a water buffalo. It is all small family farms. They get in three crops a year.
We drove to a small town called My Tho
After the temple we drove to a boat for a ride on the Mekong River. The river is quite silty but they claim not polluted. Many of the boats have eyes on the front but we couldn't really hear the guide due to a bad sound system and loud motor so you will have to research that on the internet if you want to know why they have eyes. We boated to a restaurant for an exceptional lunch. We had elephant ear fish which were fried and they stood upright on the platters. They then took pieces of fish and put them on a rice paper wrapper with lotus root and cucumber and we dipped them in tamarind sauce. Yummy. Along with that we had lumpia, soup with noodles, prawns, and pineapple. They eat their prawns dipped in salt and pepper which you squeezed lime juice into. Ther were wonderful that way. After our lunch we saw an old lady with a gigantic boa constrictor. You could pay a dollar to have your picture taken with the snake. I passed on that opportunity.
We then went to a backyard family business that made coconut candy. Now this would never be allowed in the US
We then got into little 4 person sampans and were rowed by two people through a very small canal throughh the jungle. Here we really got a glimpse of some of the poverty that still exists in Vietnam. Through the dense growth we could see shacks made of corrugated metal with families living in them. They all waved at us. We saw two children playing on a boat and they waved and said hello but the living conditions were pretty primitive. The sampan ride ended at an orchard full of exotic (to me) fruit: pomelos jack fruit, rose apple, mangosteen were all growing in this little family run orchard. We sampled fruit and earned that you are supposed to dip sour fruit (pomelo and pineapple) in salt mixed with a little chili. It was vey good. We also sampled some more candy and they had some really good dried ginger candy that I am bringing home. We then took a walk along the river and found out that hidden in the dense jungle and impossible to view from the water are really nice houses with beautiful gardens. From the water all you can see is some rather broken down outdoor cafes. We also saw where they do the cockfights that are so prevalent here. From here it was back to the bus for the drive back to the ship
In the evening the ship brought in some really excellent local performers playing on Vietnamese instruments and some young women dancers who the emcee told us were all between the ages of 19 & 24 and available. They were virtuosos. Vey interesting.
I have learned in the last few days that the Vietnamese are really into the Miss Universe contest. Our guide in DaNang bragged that Miss Vietnam was from DaNang. They clearly feel like they are part of the more sophisticated world because they now participate in the Miss Universe contest. The bottled water they gave us says it is "the official drink of Miss Universe contest 2008".
A note to Nate: no 300 pound catfish sighted