The Magnificent Mekong

               Today was somewhat of a change of pace as we spent the day traveling through the Mekong Delta. We first took a boat across the river to a smaller island. Here, we got to try tropical fruits and hear traditional music of the region. Afterwards, we got to try tea made with locally produced honey. From there, we moved to a chocolatier where we got to see the process of cacao being turned into chocolate bars. I was excited to taste the cacao bean, but the taste was absolutely nothing like chocolate. It tasted almost like a sour peanut. However, once the beans were roasted and the other ingredients were added, it became a very delicious candy. The next part of the day was definitely the part where adrenaline was running the highest, as we got to hold a large snake. At the next island, we continued exploring beginning with watching coconut production. We saw how husks were removed and how the interior of the coconut was scraped out, allowing for production of milk, oil, bowls, fiber, and more. Next, we got pulled down the street in a horse-drawn cart. We then moved into small canoes and floated down a smaller river. We finished the day with a delicious lunch of fresh seafood.

               It was very evident that tourism is a major industry in at least the part of the delta that we were in. The coconut and chocolate production areas seemed to be set up in a way that was more useful to show tourist than to actually make products. We also passed many other groups of tourists looking at the same areas we were. However, it is also clear that agriculture and fishing are very important to the area. As development continues upstream, the Mekong Delta will likely struggle, as life revolves around fishing and agriculture. Even though tourism is also a big industry, a large part of our tour was looking at people work in these industries. Hopefully, either local people will be able to modify their farming methods to combat these issues, or upstream dams will be modified so they continue to allow flooding.

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