Although we had arranged for a three day cruise along the Mekong River in Vietnam, which would follow our stay in Ho Chi Minh City, I thought that this one day tour would be a nice outing for our time in Ho Chi Minh City.
The day trip was extraordinary and in fact was more informative, more varietous and simply more stunning than our three day cruise! We actually spent as much time off the boat, exploring villages and country lanes, as we did in the boat, viewing all kinds of extraordinary water vessels and life along the edge.
We signed up and paid for the adventure and all the arrangements went like clockwork. They picked us up at our hotel, and stopped for several other guests along the way to the waterfront.
Here’s a picture of our speedboat (pic was taken as we left the boat, but at least it shows the boat.)
The boat was covered, so we were protected from the sun, but open on the sides, so we got fresh breezes as we sped along. There were also plastic curtains to protect us in the event of bad weather, but we didn’t need them.
We headed first down the river in Ho Chi Minh City, and saw the modern city as it loomed over us:
(This picture was actually taken on the way back, so if on the way downriver you panic and think that the light is wrong, or the weather is wrong, for picture-taking, just wait until you come back.) The best views on the way downriver are from the right-hand side of the boat, and the best pictures on the way back are from the left-hand side of the boat.
I know I am always scrambling on a group tour trying to get the best picture taking seats. We were on the left-hand side of the boat throughout the day and that turned out to be an excellent choice taking into account the direction of the sunlight.
We turned to the right and entered the canal and began to experience the bustling, colorful life along the river.
We stopped at a Buddhist temple.
and dis-embarked again in the countryside for a walk to a local farm. Here is Hang, our wonderful guide, showing us tapioca plants.
We strolled along the edges (not in!) of rice paddies.
to reach the farm house:
where we relaxed in the shade, and were shown how Rice Whiskey and Bee Honey Whiskey are made. Then we strolled back to our boat, and disembarked again to take a sampan ride amidst the small tributaries in the Delta. (You can see our speedboat in the distance.)
They gave us all straw hats to protect us from the sun and we later learned that only woman wear these hats, yet they gave them to the men on the trip as well, for protection. I wonder how much humor we gave the locals along the way! There was one elderly couple on the trip who wouldn’t get into the wobbly boats, and they just waited in the speedboat for the rest of the group to return.
Back in our speedboat, our next stop was at a village where we wandered through the local market. This is just one of perhaps fifty pictures I took of the amazing variety there.
We were led to a local orphanage/school for lunch.
We ate family style and were served elephant ear fish and other local foods for lunch:
I’m a picky eater, and I was able to find plenty to eat. I did try the fish! We checked out the classrooms, and the educational materials.
Then we were off to a Cao Dai temple:
After that, we popped back into the boat for the trip back. This time, since we were still in the same seats, our view was different. It was fascinating to see the dichotomy of the poor or perhaps more traditional dwellings and the city apartments looming above them.
These pictures are just a small peek into the sights we saw that day. I believe I took hundreds of pictures of locals, food, farm life, temples, market. Hang, our guide, was very enthusiastic, and very personable. Although she does this same tour day after day we didn’t feel in any way that we were just another bunch of tourists. She treated us like visiting relatives with whom she wanted to share her city and river.
Definitely one of the highest points of our entire 65-day Odyssey in Southeast Asia!
I packed a day-bag with granola bars, water and juices not knowing when lunch would be served, and not knowing how much exercise we would get. We did walk about a fair amount, and I was glad for my pack. Although we had shade in the boat, we were off the boat a lot, and it’s important to keep hydrated.