Mekong delta is one of the must go places when traveling to Vietnam. The land is not only alluring to foreign travelers but also captivating to the natives. As I was born and grown up in the city, along with the fact that I am filled with compassion for travel, I have always wanted to make a journey to explore other parts of the country, especially to the south, and Mekong delta or so called Western region is a place that I did not want to miss. It was a sunny Sunday when I was on a private tour with four American tourists to Long An, and Tien Giang- two provinces of the Mekong area.
On the way, I was expecting that trip would be very much the same to the first one that I took to Ben Tre, another province belongs to Mekong delta area, where I had chances to be engaged in an exciting flurry of activity such as visiting bee products shop, listening to cai luong (southern traditional music) while enjoying some tropical fruit, travelling around the area on a horse carriage, etc. Surprisingly, this trip was totally different from what I thought since it was the most local trip I have ever taken.
The first destination was a dragon fruit farm in Long An. While visiting around the farm, the tour guide provided some useful information on the fruit and how it is planted. After that, we got to taste the fruit. The meat of the dragon is either red or white color, and the one that we tried are dragon fruit with red meat. They tasted sweet with a little of sour, but they were absolutely fresh.
Next, we headed to Tien Giang province and we had to take two ferries so as to reach to a small village where we spent the rest of the trip. Welcoming us was the smiles of the local bikers who were in charge of riding us round the area on their motorbikes. I was completely fall in love with the scenery there.
Trees were everywhere, the air was so fresh, the atmosphere was so peaceful, and the local people were undeniably friendly. I was completely lost at the beauty of nature. Additionally, there was no tourists besides us, which helped us to enjoy our trip as a local to the fullest and to avoid tourist scams. As the place we visited was famous for coconut trees, I saw and learned how people there take advantage of every part of coconut tree from its leave, to fruit without letting anything unused. First, we were off to a place where workers prepare the coconut before delivering them to the factory. It was not a really good day for us as we were late and the workers were taking their break, so we did not get to see them doing the work, but the owner was so companionable as he took us around, talked to us, and tried his best to illustrate the different steps of the work there.
Then, we moved to a place where people make broom out of water coconut tree on their own without the help of modern technology. I was amazed as it was the first time I had directly seen the production of brooms. Our next stop was visiting a lady who taught us how to make roof house from water coconut leave. While I was there, not only that I tried fresh coconut which was just taken from the tree but also that I got an opportunity to learn how to climb the coconut tree. Well, as expected, I failed. It was so hard for me and I truly admire the locals there with the work they were doing.
Before coming to the house of the tour operator for lunch, I was given a chance to sit on a small boat, and was taken to travel some part of the river there. While I was on the boat ride, the local guy who sailed the boat shared with me a lot of great useful information about the place, and the food there, which I had not known. I gained lots of knowledge while letting myself blending the nature there.
At lunch, I had tried lots of fantastic dishes, and what I love about the meal was that all the ingredients were organic and many of them were taken from the garden of the tour operator’s house (sorry that I did not get a pic of the food as I was happily busy enjoying the meal).
After that, we took a rest before heading back to the city. On the way back to the ferry, two out of four American friends on the trip were so eager to try to ride the motorbike on their own. With the help of the locals and the tour guide, they successfully made it. I was completely impressed by that as they only took less than 30 minutes to learn while it took me more than 1 month to have the courage to ride a motorbike.
Mekong delta area never ceases to surprising me with its nature, beauty, culture, and people. I’ll definitely come back there one day soon and can’t wait for the new experience there.
By Pham Xuan