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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Mekong Delta

We couldn't visit Vietnam without taking a trip down the Mekong so we headed South from Saigon. We booked a tour and ended up seeing several people from our Cu Chi tunnels tour which was kind of fun. It took about two hours to drive the 75km from Saigon to the delta- fantastic roads! It was ok though because our guide was really entertaining. He told us all kinds of stories including one that was a bit disturbing...

When he was about 8 year old, the stream that ran in front of his house turned red. He walked upstream to investigate and found a dead American soldier laying in the water which was red with blood. He reached inside the soldier's pocket and took his lighter which had been engraved with hateful phrases about Vietnam and the Vietnamese people. He still has the lighter today.
Once we arrived at the Mekong, we boarded a small boat which took across the wide part of the river and into some of the canals that snake off into the delta. From there we made two stops. The first was at a village that makes coconut candy. They showed us how they crack open the coconuts and then grind up the meat. They then boiled it down into a thick paste. This is pounded and cooled into little strips of chewy candy. It was delicious and of course we bought some!

Next we rode bicycles down little paths through the jungle, passing through a couple of villages along the way. We ended in a village that raised honey bees. We had a delicious green tea with honey. They also had a huge boa constrictor for some reason so of course Sean wrapped him around his shoulders.

The next stop was lunch, which was supposed to be included but instead they handed us a bunch of menus with really high prices. Some people ordered entrees but others (us included) kept asking about the free lunch. Turns out they were keeping that hidden until after we ordered! Scams, scams everywhere! One guy had ordered a snake which he said was pretty good. When they brought it out they mentioned that it was 170 grams. Why would they mention that? Well, when it came time to pay they said the already high price on the menu was for 150 grams so he had to pay more!

After lunch we got into these little canoes and paddled downstream where a feast of fruit was laid out. We ate all we could while listening to traditional Vietnamese music.

We boarded our boat again and headed back to the river bank. After another two hours in the van, we were back in the hectic center of Saigon. Fantastic day- and all for $8 each!

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