Mekong Delta

We left Hoi An via the Danang airport and flew to Can Tho, a city in the Mekong Delta.

Nolan after being cooped up on a plane

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.

Jackfruit tree. The fruit gets HUGE. The inside of the fruit is a series of large seeds surrounded by the edible fruit which is sweet and slightly off-tasting.

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.

Canal and our bungalow on the Mekong
Our bungalow on the Mekong

On our first day, we took a tour up the river and visited a crocodile farm.

Nolan and Margaret on the boat to go and see the crocodiles.
Nolan loved looking for fish and treasures as we rode in the boat.

On day two, we left at five am for a tour of one of the floating markets in the Delta.

Sunrise on the Mekong
Houses and shops on the Mekong
Houses on the Mekong

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.

Boat that sold pho. Apparently, Gordon Ramsey ate here once and said it was the best breakfast he’s ever had.
Our family eating pho on the boat.

Then we walked around a land market where all sorts of fish and fruits are sold.

Produce at the local land market.
Produce at the local land market
Produce at the local land market.
Meat at the local market. It is butchered and left out until 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.

Jane moving the steamed rice pancakes.
Nolan moving the steamed rice pancake
Jane helping make rice noodles
Nolan helping make rice noodles
Nolan sampling the rice noodles

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.

Drying the uncut noodles
Our guide trying to teach us the 6 Vietnamese tones. Six different tones means that one word, “ma” means six different things depending on the tone.

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).

One of the small fish Nolan caught off the side of our bungalow.
Nolan’s big fish

After just two nights in the delta region, we boarded a bus and headed to Saigon.

The bus had small compartments, three high, like a bunk bed. Here Margaret and Nolan are watching a movie during the ride.
A view of the narrow hallway on the bus.

Leave a Reply