We spent today touring around the Mekong Delta, where the Mekong River empties out in to the South China Sea. It was a three-ish hour bus ride each way and by now, I’m starting to hate on busses.
After our coaches reached the city of Cai Be, we got on a motorized boat that took us through part of the canal/river branch network of the river till we reached a shop where they were making candies from coconuts. They’re produced for both sale in Vietnam and exported to some of the surrounding countries and as far as Germany and the US. Tasty little bites. After that workshop we then were back on a boat for another workshop on the river/canal/tributary/etc that made another set of candies from puffed rice. Watching the process of puffing rice and the production of the candy was pretty interesting, but I ended up spending a lot more time taking pictures of the peoples homes who lived in the area.
We then got back on the boat for a while and headed to the town of Vinh Long, where we had lunch and we spent some time talking to a couple from San Francisco. They’d been on the road thru SE Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia) for 3+ months and it was interesting to swap tips and perspectives with them. Truthfully, I can’t really imagine traveling for that long but I can see the appeal.
The boat cruised around some more in the Delta and gave a really good perspective of how huge the area really is. There are homes, houses, islands and markets all on the river. Given the size of the network in the Delta, it makes a very convenient transportation network as well. There were plenty of barges, large and small, transporting goods. In one part of the Delta, where a market was, little boats would be selling types of fruit or vegetables. You could tell what each boat was selling because it had their produce stuck in the air on the end of a stick. In one other area we saw rambutan arriving via a little boat then being packed in styrofoam boxes for export to China. Really interesting. Also, the river has four tides a day, every six hours. During the dry season, it ranges from three to four feet high while in the wet season it’s over double that. There were a few times when our boat hit sandbars in the water due to the low depth.
In the evening, we had dinner at the acutal Sinh Cafe, ordering bowls of vegerarian pho. Now, finally, I know what I’ve been missing. I’ll need to find a place that sells pho that’s not made in a meat broth in the states. Tomorrow we head out back for home. Since our flights are late, the plan is to spend the day in the Cholon district of Ho Chi Minh city looking at the temples and enjoy the last of Vietnamese food.