We left Hoi An via the Danang airport and flew to Can Tho, a city in the Mekong Delta.
The Mekong River flows from China through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, then winding it’s way through southern Vietnam, finally reaching the sea.
For a hundred miles or so before it meets the sea, the river splits up into thousands of narrower branches which diverge forming the V-shaped delta.
This area is the most fertile in Vietnam and allows Vietnam to be the world’s largest rice exporter. Dozens of various fruits and vegetables are grown here as well.
We stayed in a little bamboo and grass-thatched bungalow (with no AC) with mosquito nets over each bed, right on a canal in the Delta.
On our first day, we took a tour up the river and visited a crocodile farm.
On day two, we left at five am for a tour of one of the floating markets in the Delta.
The floating markets are wholesale markets where farmed goods are shipped down the river on wooden boats powered by automobile motors attached to propellers by a long shaft.
The boats are of various sizes, but none are huge. Regardless of size, each boat has a wooden cabin where the sellers can live while they sell their goods.
Since it’s a wholesale market where vendors and restauranteurs from the local towns ride out on smaller boats to buy what they need for the day, all the action happens in the early morning. By ten, the markets close down as the sellers retire to their huts to sleep.
We ate a decent bowl of pho floating on the river.
Then we walked around a land market where all sorts of fish and fruits are sold.
We also visited a small factory that produced rice noodles. After mixing rice and tapioca flour into a thin paste, they spread on onto a finely woven fabric screen where it is steamed by a large wok filled with water that is heated by burning rice chaff.
The kids got to move the steamed rice flour “pancakes” from the fabric screen onto a bamboo lattice to dry in the sun. Then they got to run one of the dried pancakes through the hand-cranked machine that cuts then into noodles. They loved the rice noodles factory.
Back at our bungalow, we killed time fishing (Nolan caught a massive catfish), riding bikes into town to buy deep-fried cheese and cheddar fries from a roadside vendor, and trying “cupping”, a traditional healing technique offered for free by our hosts. As I write this, two weeks have passed since our cupping experience and I still have the bruises to show for it. Ashley and I both found it a moderately painful and unpleasant experience (see photos).
After just two nights in the delta region, we boarded a bus and headed to Saigon.