Slithering Through the Mekong Delta

Today’s adventure was centered around a trip to the Mekong Delta, south of Ho Chi Minh City. After a long bus ride our group slathered on sunscreen and bug spray as we boarded a boat in the Mekong River. As I usually suffer from motion sickness I was very nervous for this trip but the boat was relatively stable and my stomached behaved. After nearly two weeks of being in the crowded city of Saigon, our group enjoyed the exotic and peaceful nature of the delta. The first stop on our boat tour was to a small island that harvests many types of fruits, including pineapple, bananas, mangos, and jackfruit. We got to taste-test the different fruits as natives sang traditional songs. Afterward we walked around and saw the different areas of the island. Our group stopped in a coco harvesting area to try even more treats and ended up meeting some wildlife. In the enclosed area of this farm was a large anaconda that our tour guide allowed us to hold. This was definitely the biggest risk I took on the trip but now I can say I have held a huge snake around my neck; I have no regrets! We also stopped at a beekeeping place where we sipped honey tea in the Vietnamese heat. At this stop I also held a beehive, today was filled with crazy adventures! Back on the boat we went, and after another few minutes of sailing we stopped at another island which is famous for its coconuts. Here, we tried coconut candies and rode in horse-drawn wagons. Instead of boarding our big boat, we split into groups and sailed through a smaller river into the jungle and out again into the Mekong. Since our small boat almost tipped multiple times, my friends and I were very happy to get onto the big boat once again and sail to a third island for lunch. At lunch, today I finally conquered my fear of shrimp that are not yet shelled and still have eyes, I (hesitantly) shelled my shrimp and ate it. To my surprise it was very fresh and delicious! With our bellies full, our group sailed back to the mainland and drove back to the city.

The Mekong Delta trip was fascinating as we got to view rural development firsthand. Aside from the tourism that has flourished in the area, the delta still produces a majority of the rice, fruit, and other agricultural products for both domestic and export use. On the main land, I noticed that there were businesses located in the area, even though it is considered rural. From the pre-departure readings, I was informed of the effect of climate change and other environmental factors on the area. There was a significant amount of trash in the water and around the islands which inevitably affects the crops. I did not notice any salinization of the Mekong River, which is likely happening because of upstream damning, but that was just my observation. In the future climate change and pollution will continue to affect this area if action is not taken today.

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