“They have an easy life! No stress, run their own business, have no sense of time and use the sun as their clock…” These words from our tour guide rang clearly through my head the entire day as we took a one-day tour to Mekong Delta (only 17 USD per person inclusive of tour guide, transport and lunch), a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River is.
We left the hotel at 745am but it’s a three-hour bus ride from the heart of Ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta, and then the return trip is another three-hour bus ride. That means it’s not exactly a day tour of Mekong Delta, but more of an afternoon tour.
The three hours of our time at Mekong Delta was certainly well worth the effort and sleep sacrifice. It is the kind of place where life is pretty simple and then it takes us away from our choking stressful city lives to realise that hey, life is beautiful in its own element.
Sometimes we just need to take that necessary respite from our daily city stress you know?
This little trip to the Mekong Delta engaged all of our senses and there’s no better way than to share it with you via a photobook:
They wake up at 4am when sunlight first pierces through the horizon and have their breakfast then, so they have their lunch at about 11am, which was the time when we reached. Hence, we saw them having their meals and taking a break.
They live their entire lives on the boat and they sleep on hammocks.
Notice how the front of each boat has this stick with something tied at the top? That’s to indicate what they sell! eg. mangoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins etc.
The tour guide was very very informative, providing us with lots of facts and figures as I listened in silence, taking in the scenery and the simple life.
The village life extends to the water, along the river where some live, breathe, eat, sleep. They use their boats to get from house to house, shop to shop, or even operate businesses on their boats.
Our first stop was at this shop that produces honey. They have 600 ‘bee houses’ and each of these ‘bee houses’ hold 600,000 bees!!
We sampled their honey – just a dab of it mixed with warm water and some lime juice. It was so good! One bottle (500ml) cost VND 100,000 – pretty alright for fresh honey right? I got a bottle ’cause my mum takes a lot of honey and Sarah bought some royal jelly! There were also coconut candy and other sweet treats – all produced by them.
After that morning sweet dosage, we got back onto the boat and went to the next shop – It’s actually this lady who produces rice paper. She’s 75 years old now and has been ‘manufacturing’ rice paper since she was 18 years old!
We took the liberty and walked to the back to see how the rest of the house looks like:
She’s still so strong for her age and I watched her steadily and swiftly make one piece of rice paper after another. She probably lives healthily and eats healthily too, getting enough sleep, not having modern vices like we do – so living to her age and still going strong is not surprising.
We continued by foot, going down the rows of shops that were designed and built to cater to tourists.
We were brought to see more things in production – like coconut candy and popcorn. When Sarah was watching the ladies manually make the coconut candy, from rolling to cutting to packing them with rice paper and then plastic, she said she felt an urge to just give them machines so they don’t have to work so hard. But that’s the whole of beauty of doing it by hand!
They even had this huge snake for us to carry and take photo with – look at the immense fear on Meijuan’s face, classic!
It was time for lunch next so back to the boat we went. The journey was a whole half hour to our lunch place, to a quieter part of the village. More sights along the way…
Fuel station for the boats:
The most luxurious boat I saw all day – it’s like a mini cruise which you can stay on for a few days:
A soon-to-be-opened river bungalow resort:
This part of the village is really much, much quieter:
And here’s our lunch place!
That’s the kitchen where they prepared our food in – simple fare of pork, fried spring roll, vegetables and soup. We also ordered fried fish – freshly caught and fried just before our own eyes, scales and all! (VND 150,000 for the fish!)
Yummy! From the kitchen…
… to our table!
After lunch we had the option to take a bicycle (for free, from the restaurant we ate at) and spend half hour cycling around the village. Sarah can’t cycle, so she waited while Meijuan and I went for a spin. Meijuan wanted to cycle slowly with me and take in the sights, stopping to pose for photos and all, but I zoomed off so fast going up and down the bridges and thrashing the rough rocky paths. I got so carried away cycling that the entire group ended up waiting for me while the tour guide took Meijuan and Sarah on a scooter (YES, three of them on one scooter!) to go and look for me! LOL*
Back the boat and back to the jetty where our bus was waiting to take us back to Ho Chi Minh City… what a day, what an adventure, what an insight.
(P.S. The girls begged me to let them put make-up on me and I finally relented by allowing them to just put eyeliner for me… can you even tell?)