The Mighty Mekong
Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
273Trip End Oct 08, 2008
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Our guide for this trip was a little more difficult to understand than our Cu Chi guide. She also had a strange habit of naming every road and district we passed through as we left HCMC. However, after the first couple hours she loosened up and turned out to be a great person. We bussed to Mytho, the gateway city to the Mekong River and Delta. Here we piled onto a boat that chugged across the giant brown expanse of water. The Mekong River is huge. We made for a dock on the far side, where we got out to visit a coconut candy factory. This included a bunch of free tastings (much to Erin's delight). We watched the complete process; everything was made and packaged by hand
After everyone bought their candy, we hopped on little boats that took us into a side channel of the river. They rowed from the front and back. On all sides giant green palms enclosed us in a tunnel. Occasionally boats and houses could be seen through the trees. It would have been peaceful if every local on the river hadn't asked us for money. At the next stop we tried local honey tea, which was pretty good. In an unrelated exercise, our little guide brought out a giant snake for us to play with. Then we headed to lunch. It wasn't very good, but it was food. There was a water buffalo hiding in the shade of a bridge over a canal. The kids were feeding him grass when we passed by the second time.
We also had a traditional music performance while we tried some tropical fruits. I think we had already tried most of these, but they were good nonetheless. Then, back to the dock. At this point most of our group left (they were doing one day tours) while we continued on to our next stop, Can Tho.
It turned out we were the only ones who had booked the homestay
We were met by a woman who, it turns out, doesn't live there at all. But she speaks English so she's often pressed into service. Her uncle and his wife live here with their daughters. It's a surprisingly large house, and can accommodate at least 20 foreigners. But that night we were the only ones there. This made the experience much better.
We started off with tea, and we talked a little bit outside. They have every kind of fruit tree imaginable in their backyard, and they picked a jackfruit for us in the evening. Later, they prepared us a wonderful dinner. We placed fish, greens, and noodles inside a circle of rice paper. Delicious and more food then we could eat. Their little girl came out and proudly asked if we would like a beer with our dinner. She had been practicing that line for a while. After dinner we played badminton with her. She enjoyed whacking it into the bushes for me to retrieve. Then her father took over and the game became much more competitive, but I think I held my own. Later, we played memory except with a deck of mismatched cards. Despite some cheating, it was a fun game. Then they brought in the jackfruit for us to try, and we sat around with the family and watched TV until it was time for bed. All in all, it was a great experience.