My second day in Vietnam marked the first day of touring by a travel agency. I wanted to see the floating markets so we took the Mekong Delta tour given by Delta Adventure Tours.
Now, you can ask the hostel to help you set-up a tour or you could go to the travel agency yourself. We chose the second option as it would both be cheaper, we’d find out where the travel agency/meeting place is before the tour itself, it was a good start for our city tour (which we did on our own, like in Macau).
We headed to the tour agency before 7:30, since the bus was going to leave at that time (it didn’t).
This is Benny. He was our tour guide. He spoke heavily accented English. We rode the bus for around two hours until we got to the pier.
This boat we road in had life vests on top. Not that we were given any instructions on how to wear them or what to do if ever the boat capsized, but it was comforting knowing they were there just the same–not because I couldn’t swim, but because I’d rather keep my head above that color of water.
We started to pass by the floating market. It was a small one and I was disappointed since it’s definitely not what I’ve been seeing on TV. I was expecting smaller boats with a lot of fruits and vegetables that would be great to take pictures of (it’s the reason why I wanted to see a floating market). Anyway, what we saw were these, more or less:
Benny told us that some of the floating market owners don’t have homes on land and just live in their boats. The first picture above is a sample of that. Another interesting tidbit was that they also had their version of sari-sari stores at sea. He didn’t phrase is that way–as I’m pretty sure he doesn’t consciously know what sari-sari store means–but told us that since the people selling on the sea are at sea for a good part of the day, they also had a convenience store of sorts at sea. The little boat with the cooler full of soda in the second picture is their on-sea convenience store.
More shots of the brown waters and boats.
So after seeing the floating market, we then headed to visit a family business of bee-farming (still via boat). The place sold products made from honey–such as jelly, tea, as well as other odds and ends.
This was on a screen that you could hold if you wanted to. Nobody in my tour group was brave enough to hold this.
They served honey tea (it was really good) and a plate of snacks which included banana chips, peanut brittle, something made from coconut all of which tasted so-so. They sold a lot of souvenirs around the place like these painted bamboo bookmarks (which are also available in the Ben Tanh market for 5,000 VND).
I do not know what this is. PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. Is it decorative? Do you eat it? Do you drink it?
Next, we rode the boat to go across the river and visited a family business centered on coconut.
They showed us how they made coconut candy and rice wine. We tasted some wine. Benny told us that it was around 30-40% alcohol and that it was a lot stronger than what is sold in the city since they dilute the ones in the city. One shot of the rice wine didn’t do anything to me though, except for the hot sensation as it went down. As with the other place, there were also a lot of souvenirs you could buy in that place. After this, we went back to the boat and rode for some twenty-thirty minutes before we reached a bridge.
Here, we traded our boat for a small four passenger rowboat. My friend and I got in the first one. I was so excited, haha! I was like, YAY GENUINE UNIQUE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE!!!
It shook a lot and each person has to sit on one rung and face in one direction to keep the boat steady.
Sorry for the snapshot, I wasn’t able to meter on her face since we were seated with our backs facing her and if we moved to much the boat rocked. The ride took about thirty minutes.
We went into a canal our tour boat wouldn’t have been able to fit through. We passed a lot of greenery and some residential areas. The rower for our boat didn’t speak English but she was friendly, smiling when the camera was directed at her and holding a conversation with the Vietnamese girl who was on the boat with us. Our tour guide told us that these people are paid 20,000 VND (a little less than 1USD) and we didn’t have to pay anymore since it was included in our tour package. I still gave her a tip though, because she rowed four people a pretty long way and it was so sunny and why are they only payed 20,000 VND?! That’s a lot of manual labor. We rowed to our next destination for lunch.
Part 2 tomorrow, cheers!