I love Vietnam. The people, the culture, the food. When I first visited Ho CHi Minh about a month back, people warned me that its going to be dusty and dirty and hot. But guess what, it wasn't that bad... It was dirty near the Ben Thanh Market but I believe if you go to markets anywhere in the world, it'll be the same. I've learn to take whatever comes my way whenever I travel, dirt, dust, heat and all...
Anyway, one of the best part of that trip was the Mekong River Tour. We did a Tonle Sap tour when we were in Siem Reap, Cambodia half a year back and didn't enjoy it. So I had to cajole Rockstar to go for this river tour.
The tour started earlier in the morning. We dozed off while listening to the our guide speak about the history and facts about Vietnam and HCM. But I did managed to capture some pictures of the beautiful scenery as we past by.
We arrived at MyTho which is the biggest town on the Ben Tre province. Did you know that there are 36 million people living just on the Mekong Delta? There are 4 island at the Ben Tre province named after the 4 holy animal of Vietnam.
The biggest island which is the Unicorn Island is 500 hectare while the smallest is Phoenix Island with only 50 hectare.
First stop - Phoenix Island to visit a Rice Paper factory and walk through a farm. For those who likes Vietnamese Popiah, this is where your rice paper/ popiah skin comes from.
A small rice paper factory such as this produces about 20,000 rice paper a day. The process is quite interesting although I can't vouch for the hygiene :)
We then walk through a farm with the tour guide explaining things to us before arriving at our lunch destination. If you are worried about the cleanliness, don't be. I survive without any effect even though I got a sensitive stomach. And the food is DELICIOUS!!! I especially like the Vietnamese rolls which a staff so graciously rolled for us.
We were given a variety of dishes besides the spring rolls like deep fried elephant ear fish, pork meat cooked with vegetables, pork meat & fish cooked with fish sauce, sauteed morning glory with garlic and white rice. We also ordered a dish made from sugar and rice flour and blown into a ball; but it might not suit everyone's palate. Our travel companions didn't quite like it but I did like it and ended up finishing almost all of it.
After our fill of the good food, it was time for a boat cruise on the river. We passed by many floating houses and fishery where people rear fish for a living. We also saw various activities and see how people lived both on the water and along the the river bank.
We then stopped at a honey factory where we were given a taste of honey drink. Having experience many 'factories' in China, I did like that the Vietnamese was not pushy about selling their items. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and could provide lots of facts. It's quite amazing that he could sprout out information on history, economics, politics and also on rice papers, honey, coconuts and just about anything along the entire tour.
Next, a pony ride. It started raining and we were given raincoat to put on. The pony cart took us through a village where we could see the lifestyle of the Vietnamese villagers. Although I somehow pities the pony who had to pull 5 heavy people through a tiny lane with potholes.
Once we reach the end, we got off the pony cart and walked through some houses to reach a fruit garden. We were given various tropical fruits to taste and were entertained by local folk singers and musicians. Even though I could not understand a word, it was somehow captivating and soothing.
The rain continue drizzling as we headed back to the river for another boat ride. This time on a row boat along the maze of shady canals of the Mekong River. It was the best part of the entire tour!!
The boat rode so low in the water that I could dangle my legs in if I wanted too. But of cos I didn't :)
We had fun playing with an oar, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery and laughing. It's beautiful! The palm trees, the mangrove swamp, the slowly lapping water. Even Rockstar enjoyed it and that's good considering he isn't outdoorsy.
After a much too short ride, we arrived at a handmade coconut candy workshop where they produce candy of cause. Candy is delicious and comes in many flavour. This entire tour have been eye-opening and knowledge gained. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is visiting HCMC because its so worth it. We paid only VND199,000 = RM30 per person. Super cheap right?
The day ended with a boat ride back to the bus. Thank God the rain stopped. It's been tiring but I can say that we all did enjoy ourselves. For pictures of us, go visit www.doubleescapades.blogspot.com or click here.
The Sinh Tourist
The Sinh Tourist Head Office
246-248 De Tham St., Dist 1, HCMC
Tel : +84.8.38389597
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : http://www.thesinhtourust.vn
The Sinh Toursit Office 2
24-26 Pho Duc Chinh St., Dist 1, HCMC
Tel : +84.8.38222892