Monday, September 21, 2009

Chronicles of the Nolen's in Vietnam '08 - Part 4

Wednesday: Touring the MeKong Delta (Parker stays home with Mrs. Nga)
"Chao!" - that means Hello! I have to say that this was probably my favorite tour that Clay & I went on while in Vietnam! It was an adventure right out of a movie or a fairy-tale! It felt so surreal gliding on top of the water in these little boats & watching the locals work in and on their boats. Then coming up to what looks like a scene from "Anaconda" (but in a good way!) start in wide open water, wind & water splashing against your face & next you're going through a narrow passageway with the amazon on either side of you. (The waterway was just wide enough to fit about 2 boats side by side & then there was land on either side) You then start coming up to some of the natives' homes & boats where children are out by the banks or sitting atop their boat. It felt like we were literally in a whole other world...a place of wonder & exciting adventures waiting around every corner....and the latter proved to be true! :) So hop on board with me today as I take you through a glimpse of the MeKong Delta!
Pictures of Wednesday:
Us with our WONDERFUL tour guide & friend Nguyen Trong Nguyen (also goes by Win)
All aboard & ready to tour the Mi Kong Delta!
(We had our own private boat which was nice because we could go at our own pace...sort of)
"The MeKong Delta is in the Southern region of Vietnam, comprising 13 provinces with an area of 40,000 km and over 17 million people. It is influenced by tropical monsoon: Rainy season from May to October. Dry season from November to April. Average temperature from 26 degree C to 27 degree C, according to localities.

Most of the cities in the South-West of Vietnam are found on the banks of the Mekong River."
A few of the places we visited along the Mekong Delta:

-the orchards and technique of gardening
- the water activities such as the floating market, fishing, the house boat
- the traditional handicraft units: pop rice, rice paper, coconut candy, fish-growing
-the ancient house of the landlord in the past: farming tools display, rice planting line, traditional music performance
-Bonzai garden & Farmer's Market
Houses along the river
Our starting point was at Cai Be Floating Market where we watched all of the boats gather together in one big place along the river & do their exchanging...wish I had gotten a good picture of this! It was neat to watch people just crossing over the boats going from one to the other bargaining & collecting what they needed. We then crossed the river over to the Cai Muoi Canal where we shortly after went through the An Binh & Binh Hoa Islands...this was where most of our stops were made. Coming out of the islands, we glided down the Co Chien River until we were at our final destination point & headed back to Ho Chi Minh.

The picture above is of 2 people in a boat on the river...they were headed to the floating market!

Here was our first official stop at Cuu Long (a family owned business) to watch the process of Pop Rice, Rice Paper & other local candies being made! Yummy!

Left to Right: Husks & Pop Rice

That is one big bag of pop rice... Mixed with caramel & made into little bars (shown below), pop rice bars are a favorite treat of the Vietnamese. Watching the process from start to finish was a neat experience.

Wrapping up the pop rice bars...the process from start to finish is about 6 different steps because after the pop rice is made, they mix it with caramel, flatten in on a table & cut it into bars then package it

Making caramel candy & giving away samples to try

Of course we took some of these yummy candies home with us! :)

Woman making rice paper

We sat & enjoyed some of the favorite local treats while at Cuu favorite were the sugary coconut strips & sweet pineapple yums to the right of them!

Starting our journey through the An Binh & Binh Hoa Phuoc island

A native's house & boat on the riverbank of the island

Man & boy in fishing boat

Getting out of our boat for the second stop: Ancient house of the landlord of the past...where they provided us with fresh fruit snacks & entertainment along with a tour of the property

Columns on the front of the house

To munch on during the music performance

The locals dance & act out traditional native stories for the tourists

If not my favorite, one of my FAVORITE pictures from the whole trip...although different parts of Vietnam are known for different things & thought of in different aspects, every time I look at the photograph of this sweet child I can't help but think back to Vietnam & smile with remembrances.

A banana tree

Woman on boat along the waterway on the island

Another stop on the island...Our lunch...yeah, at first we questioned how hungry we were too! In the end, did we eat it...yes, we tried it! It was pretty good!

The place that we ate lunch at was actually called the Farmer's Market. Story: The man who had the most famous garden on the island died about 2 years before. The Bonzai weren't getting taken care of so the family opened up a restaurant...hence the Farmer's Market.

Fruits we saw at the Bonzai Garden:
Coconut, grapefruit, Jack, Starfruit, Logan, Papaya, green orange, & rambutant

This is what we saw a few tables over from where we were sitting at lunch...yeah, that is show & tell with a giant snake...actually I think ANACONDA would be the better word for it!!! Clay asked me if I wanted to put the snake around my neck for another "experience of a lifetime"...on an island, in a jungle...just me, a few locals & a big anaconda. What do you think I said?! I may be obsessed with cool photo opportunities, but I truly am not THAT crazy! I have seen "Anacondas" waaaay too many times to fall for that!

Back on the boat for one more island stop (it started raining about this time so we made our last stop a quickie) & then the home stretch...our tour guide surprised us with this treat! Fresh Coconut drinks!!! I squealed with delight when I saw him bringing these to us; it just put the finishing touch on the perfect day!

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