Mekong Delta, Vietnam
I was astounded at how big the Mekong is! It starts in the South China Sea and winds all the way up to SE Asia, with its source coming from a spring in Tibet. Who knew?
I didn’t go that far north, on account of it being so far north, and instead started my day tour in Mỹ Tho, which is about an hour south of Ho Chi Minh City by air conditioned bus! (Commercial pitch: if you’re looking for good cheap day trips out of Ho Chi Minh City, I can highly recommend Sinh Tours. I paid $12 for a day on the Mekong Delta, including lunch. And just $7 for the Cu Chi tour, lunch not included.) The river reminded me of my time on the Amazon out of Iquitos, Peru. Same big, wide brown water, with tropical vegetation growing on the shores and floating in huge clumps along the current. Hot, humid, rich smelling. Amazing clouds. The whole deal. I love being on these rivers!
People of course have been living here for millennia, and despite modernity, still do things like grow fish in floating houses, like above. No one lives in these houses, just fish!
Like other rivers, the boats plying the waters are low, slender rigs, that do a lot of putt putting, rather than roaring. They have to contend with widely fluctuating water levels, so don’t draw too much. While I was ON my boat taking this picture, this is what mine looked like.
I wasn’t sure what these were. I don’t think they were fishing houses. And I’m not sure that people lived in them. But they looked awfully rustic and so I present them to you for your speculation!
Just a working family, on the river.
I’m not real big into selfies, I always think I look like a a dork. So I had Vo, my tour guide, take this one of me doing my Huck Finn Goes to Vietnam pose. Our boat was able to go into some of the side rivers, on our way to lunch, and some interesting “factories”: rice chips, coconut candy, baskets, and of course tourist souvenir shops!
Looks tropical right? Lots of bugs right? Hot bed of malaria and dengue fever carrying mosquitos, right? So…not so much. At least not to me. I’ve been in SE Asia for nearly 3 months, and have YET to see a damn mosquito. I had the same issue in the Amazon, nary a bite. I’m not sure what this means, and I’d love to hear from you if you do. Is my body scent repulsive to bugs? I’m grateful, but confused. Anyway, I was expecting to find clouds of bugs in this particular turn of the river, but all I saw were butterflies and a few dragon flies. Odd. Not many birds either, which still confounds me. With all the water and fish in that water, I don’t get why I’m not seeing seagulls, or other water birds. In the US, those things are everywhere. Anyone know where the seagulls are in Vietnam???
So this was lunch. A river fish, cooked and presented thusly. I had no idea how to approach it, but thankfully I didn’t have to. A restaurant worker expertly pulled succulent meat out of it, and rolled it with vegetables and spices in rice paper to make a fantastically tasty fat spring roll!
And of course, making a living on the Delta doesn’t mean you have to fish. We were regaled by these two singers, and their accompanying band (a guitar, a flute and bass – all acoustic). Vo, my trusty guide, loosely interpreted for me. Songs about love, and romance. And love and romance gone wrong. So, Vietnamese COUNTRY songs! They played for tips, and I’m happy to say that our group was generous.
People live on the river, and since the river rises and falls with the rains, they have to build berms to keep it from sloshing over into their homes.
Back on the river, these guys swam past. Not wild, but domestic ducks, chickens, and cows would wander by wherever we were. I’m no farmer, so there must be some secret to getting them back.
I love palms!
At one of our last stops, we came to a rice chip making factory. First, they grind rice with water to create a paste. Then they spread the paste onto these hot surface (top picture), and cook it for awhile. Then they lay the resulting cooked rice “big chip” onto bamboo to cool and dry. And finally they break them up to look like the bottom. I LIKE rice chips. Very tasty!
I took many many more pictures of this trip, but this gives you taste of what river live on the Mighty Mekong is like.