The Journey into the Mekong Delta in Vietnam
The first leg of my relay around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam involved a small pleasure boat and short journey across the wide, sluggish Tien Giang River. I was fascinated by the colourful fishing boats hung with little lamps like baubles on a Christmas tree. After performing a wide loop we entered a narrow channel overhung by verdant vegetation. Luscious crops of coconuts and pineapples and other exotic fruits carpeted the muddy banks.
A Walk Through a Small Holding on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam
The second leg of my journey was on foot along a narrow track the led to a smallholding. This took me past the studio of a local artist. His charming paintings captured the essence of life on the delta. However, anxious Americans waving dollar bills at him pushed the prices beyond my means. So I moved on and further along the path I found an enclosure full of crocodiles. They are caught as babies and then fattened up to sell for the meat and the skins. The cattle of the delta. There was a little sweet factory in the heart of the holding. Inside the production of coconut sweets and coconut ice lollies was in full swing. I accepted an invitation to try a selection of these hand-made treats.
Outside once again I took my place at a small wooden table in a shaded corner of a large veranda. I was given a small platter of exotic fruits and some local tea sweetened with honey. Both were delicious. While I sipped the tea I was serenaded by some local musicians playing traditional songs. Apparently, they just happened to be passing by. When they finished it was time for the next leg of my journey. There was just time to visit the souvenir shop. It is amazing how many different items can be made from a coconut shell.
Ponies, Carts and Sampans on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam
As I emerged on to a dirt track the drumming hooves indicated the mode of transport for the next leg of my relay. I clambered aboard a small wooden cart and we set off down the road at a brisk pace past a small settlement to a small wooden jetty on the bank of another channel. A fleet of sampans was waiting here, the taxis of the delta, with local women at the oars. Occasionally my rower had to battle against the wash from the outboard motors of empty sampans racing back to collect more passengers. The sampan passed me back to a pleasure boat moored on the Mekong River. My next, and last, stop was lunch.
Mien Tay River Side Restaurant
The centre piece of lunch at the Mien Tay River Side Restaurant was the Elephant Ear Fish a local speciality. First, the flesh taken taken off the fish and shredded into small pieces. I placed some of the fish on a green leaf and rolled it up. I then wrapped it in rice paper and dipped it in a fish sauce. It was so pleasant there enjoying a view of the river on one side, beautiful gardens on the other and eating delicious fresh food. A great prize for completing my relay around the Mekong Delta.
An article by Valery Collins, the Experienced Traveller