Well this was certainly an unusual and fascinating place to spend my birthday! We arrived in the Mekong Delta around 10:30 and boarded our first boat and then switched to a smaller one after about a 30 minute ride. Coco was happy to see a coconut on board and thrilled when she was told she could drink the coconut water (her favorite).
The waterway started getting narrower as we made our way through the thick “water coconut trees” enveloping us on either side. I had never heard of water coconuts before.
After awhile we arrived at our first stop where there were some touristy things for us to purchase (I did end up buying some shirts) and where we could relax and have some fresh fruit and listen to some live, local music. Oh, yeah, and this. #crazy!!!
The fruit, cut into bite-sized portions, was served with tiny bowls of salt mixed with chili pepper. There were also cups of hot tea with lots of honey and calamanci. As the Vietnamese ladies sang folk songs to the strumming of a guitar and I sampled the spicy, salty fruit, Coco danced to the music.
After listening to the music and having a bit of fruit we continued through to see some coconut candy being made. It was for sale as well as some extremely interesting elixirs!!
(The first one had a dead bird and a cobra in the bottle which you are supposed to swig to help your kidneys. The second one was actually some sort of alcoholic drink, a wine maybe, with a cobra and a scorpion in the bottle too!)
The next part of the tour had us walking through some fields to a horse-drawn wagon ride which would have been pretty enjoyable if it hadn’t started pouring rain. We tried to wait it out but it didn’t let up so we put on the flimsy raincoats our guide had brought and trudged through the mud. Coco and I got soaking wet. Seriously, by the time we did the 15 minute walk and the five-minute wagon ride we were completely drenched from our waists down where the raincoats were no match for the gusts of wind. Our guide felt bad but we just laughed about it. What else could we do? We weren’t cold, just wet, and besides I chalked it up to just part of the Mekong Delta experience. We were glad to find refuge on the boat and relieved when we finally made it to the restaurant later for lunch.
Oh joy! More coconut water! And then dark clouds and more heavy rains.
I think we were all relieved to finally make it to the restaurant set deep in this lush environment. We found a place to clean up and made our way to the table. We were greeted with a large fried fish propped up on the table and assortment of local dishes including fried rice, spring rolls, dumplings, chicken, prawns, greens, noodles and soup. The fish is called ‘elephant ear fish’ because it can grow as large as an elephant’s ear. It was so tasty!! All three of us were famished and ate nearly everything that had been prepared for us. Truly amazing, amazing food and Coco loved it too. The guide was extremely impressed that she found it just as delicious as we did. An awesome birthday meal!!
Not too many pictures of me at this lunch (okay, none) but I was there – hahahaha. The food was sooo good and I absolutely loved the experience. I need to learn how to cook like this! After the meal we took two boats back and eventually made it back to the hotel. We were going to go out for ice cream later but we were too cozy in our beds to manage that so we ordered some room service and called it a night. I am so glad we went and I highly recommend doing this excursion if you are ever in Saigon. The next day we flew back home to Manila but our minds were broadened and etched with amazing memories of this fascinating country. We loved visiting Vietnam. There is so much to do and see but we were able to pack in quite a bit on our six-day trip. It was the perfect choice for our last Asian adventure.