The Mekong Delta was a place of terror in my mind. – and some of the places we saw, canals and rice fields, were eerily familiar. Except, of course, the war is long over and the people are here, trying to make their way like the rest of us. We took a “touristy- tour” for 3 days – parts of which were reminiscent of a Disney jungle tour, parts of a UNESCO plea to alleviate the plight of third world people and other parts that were just undefinable.
We did a “homestay” with a rice farmer – had a little bungalow that was sorta like one of those state park cabins complete with mosquito netting and a fan – actually the bathrooms were far better than most park facilities. Anyway the lady of the house prepared us a wonderful dinner of rice, many vegetables and a perfectly prepared whole fish. In the morning we walked thru the fields of yams and saw the rice paddies. We traveled to his home on his boat in the dark and back in the morning, past river people washing clothes, taking kids to school(on motorbikes, of course – sometimes whole families on a Vespa) and working on boats of all sorts.
Later at the floating market, which by the way, was wholesale -Sam’s Club of the Delta – The pineapple sellers with big boats of pineapples wrapped in bundles, for instance put a pineapple way up on a stick so retailers know which “aisle” to row to. Small entrepreneurs had fast little boats puling up beside us with single servings of fruit, coffee, candy.
On the third day we left the group to explore CanTho, the largest city on the Mekong, on our own. We enjoyed a lovely hotel – soft bed and no rooster alarm like the home stay – right on the riverfront. Like most of our experience so far, the views from afar are spectacular. Up close, the reality of both the crowded city life and almost primitive country life is sometimes difficult to fathom.