Day 11: The Magnificent Mekong – 5/16/19

Today we started off a bit early and had a quick breakfast before leaving to go to the Mekong Delta area. First, we got on a boat to go to one of the islands to tour it. We started off with listening to traditional Vietnamese music. We also got to sample some fruits, which were delicious. We tried classics like watermelon, pineapple, and baby bananas, but we also tried jackfruit (which I love!) and some type of papaya. The papaya tasted good but it had a weird texture that was different from other papayas I’ve had. Then, we went to a bee farm where they gave us honey tea, banana chips, and peanut candy, which all used the honey they produced. It was really interesting because the honey was a lot thinner than the honey that we get at home. Then, we headed to a cocoa factory where we got to try raw cocoa (it tasted a bit like lemon but we accidentally ate the seed and it was sooo bitter), toasted cocoa beans (I’m ready to order these in bulk), cocoa butter (so delicious), and sample some of the chocolate bars (I tried cinnamon, coconut, and 100% cocoa; they were all delicious). Then, we walked around the corner and got to hold a python. At first, I didn’t want to do it, but then I decided to go for it, and it wasn’t that bad, until it started to slither into my sleeve, and I freaked out. Then, we went to a coconut factory where they made coconut products. We got to try some coconut candy, which was delicious. I also bought a coconut ice cream pop for only 43 cents! It was one of the most delicious ice creams I’ve ever had. It was really interesting to see the Mekong version of a factory. It is basically a large, open structure with a few necessary machines. This demonstrates the development gap between the city and the more rural areas. It also changed my perspective on businesses. The only local food I’ve had is at the farmer’s market, but you don’t actually see it being made. Once I saw the expertise and the work that people put into their products, I realized that buying local is very important. It also made me feel good knowing who would benefit from my purchase. At each place we visited, we were given the opportunity to buy the goods they farmed in addition to a few souvenirs because of the thriving tourism industry there. However, the biggest industry was definitely agriculture, which was evident in the factory tours we took. Then, we went on a canoe to ride down a small canal to get back to the boat. I was very impressed because older women were rowing on the boats, and I admired their strength and endurance, especially in the heat. We got to see the agriculture up close, which was also cool. The people that I met were all very kind and welcoming to tourists. They went about their days normally as tourists filled their home. I also noticed that many of the building were very simple, and there were very few bikes and cars. This further demonstrated the development gap between the city and the Mekong Delta. Then, we got on a boat to go to another island for lunch. As we rode over, our tour guide mentioned the erosion of the shoreline. This was evident as the shoreline looked crumbly. This showed the detrimental effect of global warming on delicate environments like this. I didn’t notice any hardships caused by climate change, but I know they will soon reveal themselves. This made me understand why many people in rural areas are in denial of climate change. If they don’t see any glaring, direct effects, how are they supposed to believe and work to stop it? I also noticed a lot of trash strewn among the plants. This made me upset because I want to be able to preserve nature and work towards a greener planet. For lunch, we had a huge array of food. There was rice, fried sticky rice, veggies, fish, soup, the list goes on. I tried elephant ear fish in a spring roll type of thing, and it was delicious. At first, I was hesitant because the fish came out whole, and there were crunchy scales all over it. I also tried some squid, which tasted like tuna to me, but I really didn’t like the texture. The fried sticky rice was absolutely delicious, and all around, I give this lunch a 10/10. After that, it looked like rain was coming, so we headed back to get on the bus and go back to the hotel to work on group presentations. I can’t believe that the program is almost over; I don’t want to leave yet!

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