Since I’ve been posting backdated trips, I thought it was time to throw in a more recent one. With Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, being a new destination for my airline, I was excited to be rostered a trip this past August. I tend to be fairly knowledgeable in general about most of the big Asian cultures, but Vietnam was something a bit more foreign to me (no pun intended).
Most of the crew had never been before, so we all signed up for a tour package down the Mekong River. The tour included transportation to and from the hotel, as well as a visit to a few of the islands in the river ending with a locally prepared lunch. It was forecast for rain on our tour day, but we set out regardless on an hour’s drive out to the Mekong River.
The Mekong River is surprisingly very brown, with what looks like zero visibility. I’m assuming it’s because the soil is very soft. What seemed like about 50 tour boats all docked next to each other, with multiples buddied up, so to get to yours on the end you had to hop on each one (I think I hopped over 5?). From the dock, we traveled to one of the small islands located in the river, called Unicorn Island. It has a small community of locals who live off the tourism. The island is so small it only has space for a small school for younger children. Older children ride a ferry daily to the mainland to attend their school.
We sat down for some fresh fruit appetizers while the locals sang a few fold songs in their traditional Vietnamese. The beautiful outfits they wear are typical of a local, it’s call an ao dai.
We also had a short meeting with a big scaly local:
After we finished our late morning tea and snacks, we took a short walk to one of the tributaries in the Mekong Delta to hop on a small boat that would take us back to our tour boat. Although it seemed the boat we took was for tourists, these are similar to the ones commonly used by residents and workers to navigate the delta.
Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the next island, but here we got to sample the very popular confection – coconut candy. It’s extremely delicious warm and just made – with a hint of ginger; it resembles taffy. I had to take some home, but unfortunately it gets quite hard, so I usually stick it in my armpit to warm it up (yes, seriously!). Other flavors can be added to the coconut candy, such as chocolate or fruit. I just stuck to the classic original! These locals are quite resourceful when making coconut candy; the coconut shells are used to fuel the fire of the oven.
Also on the island, they were actively making coconut and banana paper – it was so lightweight and tasted great, too.
Our final journey onward to lunch was operated by a friendly donkey and his little carriage.
Where we had some yummy crunchy fish and hand rolled fresh eggrolls and shrimp with rice.
We headed back to our tour boat and onward to the dock and just as we disembarked, the rain poured down in bucketfulls. Unfortunately, there were loads of people just climbing onto their boats when the storm hit, so we were pretty lucky. It poured almost the whole hour car ride back to the hotel. But I’m not bothered, we had a beautiful day for our tour!