Today was the Mekong Delta trip and it was jam packed, so bear with me!
We embarked on our journey at 7:15 AM and got to the harbor about 2 hours later. We boarded a giant boat, life vests and all, and sailed off to the first of many islands that we were visiting. The first island’s food industry was centered around coconuts: coconut candies, coconut beauty products, and coconut powders. We saw the process of making the coconut candies and the pressing of coconuts to get the milk. We all got to sample a chewy Starburst-texture coconut candy, and I bought some to bring home because it was that good! From there, we boarded little motor carts that looked like Tuk-Tuks. It was a bumpy ride, but as we were driving through the Mekong forests, I finally felt like I was in Vietnam and truly experiencing it. It was so surreal! After many winding and narrow roads, we arrived at a little community where we ate lunch. It was also some sort of make shift zoo with crocs, porcupines, snakes, birds, and more. (Speaking of, there are so many stray dogs and cats around Vietnam and I want to pet them all but rabies!!) Fishing is a big industry on this island too. After a delicious authentic, hearty Vietnamese lunch, we boarded our second boat to go to the next island. This boat was smaller and could fit only about 12 people. We arrived at Coconut Island, which was so beautiful and filled with vibrant flowers and dragon pillars! The most famous thing Coconut Island had to offer was their honey tea. We got to hold a colony of bees and taste the honey! The bee keeper literally took my finger and stuck it in the combs. Definition of fresh honey. We got served honey tea after and that was delicious too. Honestly everything today was awesome, you’ll hear me say it a million times. Afterwards, I held an anaconda! It was so cute and I really want to get one now…sorry mom. I had to say a sad goodbye to my fellow snake and head off on the next adventure. We boarded even smaller boats, which only fit 4 people (the boats just keep shrinking in size…) and headed off to the last island.
The trip was so smooth and quiet and peaceful. I felt so close to nature floating through the Mekong on this tiny boat through the narrow channels, plant life literally all around us. It was just such a serene experience. Unfortunately, there was a lot of litter and trash floating along the river. I did notice something about the plant life around the banks though; most of it was brown and dead. I was wondering if it could be an effect of the increasing salinization of the Mekong and the damming of the river upstream. Seemed like the mangroves were suffering, but the Government promised a big mangrove replanting/recovery project. Hopefully that is successful because I want to see the beautiful thriving greenery there once was.
When we got to our last island, we ate various local fruits (guava, dragon fruit, watermelon, and one mystery fruit) and watched some singers and musicians perform for us by our tables. Once that was over, we went to board the big boat we got on the first time. Fresh coconuts were waiting for all of us! We all sat down and enjoyed our coconut milk and decompressed after about 6 hours of Mekong adventures.
Everyone we visited on the islands was so friendly and excited to see us and show us what they do daily. I really got to appreciate the hard work these small businesses do to earn a living. And they work every day, through hot or hotter weather (today was only hot). I think I sweated out the 4 bottles of water I drank today, so I’m going to take a well-deserved shower now.