Wounds to remember the Mekong Delta

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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All the boats have the same red paint in front supposedly to ward off water spirits?

To say I've found taking the tours around Saigon convenient is an understatement. you can have those arranged from the hostel you're staying at, I'm sure they'd have connections to a travel agency. they're also way cheaper than going around the locations by yourself since most of the transportation would require groups.

So for my last day in Saigon I've decided to take the One day Mekong Delta tour which  costs 192000VND or 12USD per person.

After my routine of 'bre n ja' i was picked up real early by someone else, oh how i missed the burly man, just when i started to get fond of him.

Again we rushed to the travel agency and was faced by a few elder people, and a Brit bloke I briefly met from the Cu Chi tunnels tour the previous day, Paul.

A lady busy at work: creating spring roll wrappers
For familiarity's sake, we decided to stick together for the most part of the day.

The tour was from 8am to 7pm. we started off with a lengthy bus ride, about 3-4 hrs going to the port where we were to take the boat ride around the Mekong Delta. this was used up with tons of chit chat bout anything under the sun with Paul.

The boat ride gave us a view of the houses lining the shore, tons of barges and the floating market which was closed. so we just got a view of the people doing their chores in the boats that they lived in. it was again highly moving for me.

We stopped at a candy factory where we got a glimpse of one of Vietnam's popular trades. here they had varieties of fruit and coconut candies. they were definitely similar with what we had in Manila so what I found most interesting and ironic was learning how its finally done in a different country, heehaw! Cheers to that! a lady showed her skill at creating the dumpling wraps.

How to make rice crispies. the rice grains are popped in sizzling black sand from the delta.
another man showed his skills at creating rice pops which were similar to popcorn. what they'd do is throw in uncooked rice crispies in a huge wok filled with as what they said black sand looking more like silt. the objective is to pop all the crispies and then filter them from the silt/sand.

I did not check the prices of the candies as I didn't plan on buying them since we had them here in Manila but I loved trying out the freebies! stopping only when i got to try the ginger candy, eek!

We then transferred to smaller boats that would fit 4-5 people lined up in one row. this was the fun part! we were given the traditional Vietnamese hats, what we call in the Phils. as 'salakot' and the ride was at high noon. boy was i dark after the trip! i was joined on the boat by Paul, a Polish couple and a nice Korean guy who'd been taking my pics several times and vice versa.

Arrays of dried fish and candies for sale
We thought that 4 people was the maximum and when the Korean hopped in front we became a little tense! he rocked the bout a lil bit and that wasn't nice. now imagine that the delta's water is muddy supposedly from all the mud they threw from digging the Cu Chi tunnels as what Mr. Bean said the previous day. and that's something i wouldn't wanna try out with my girlish outfit:-)

The boats were slowly rowed by a Vietnamese woman with a huge paddle and it was frustrating coz we wanted to help her out. It was amusing to tease the Polish wife at our back by pretending to rock the boat from time to time,  as she was on the verge of hyperventilating while taking occasional whiffs of her ciggie stating ' I don't like this'

We got off on a small orchard to take the free lunch.

Pasig River? LOL! holding on to the railing for fear of falling into the Mekong
after which you could either lounge around in the hammocks with a good book, chat with the other tourists, or take the mountain bikes around the countryside. i opted to take the last. i wanted to see if i still remembered how to ride one since my last experience was when i was a little kid a loooonngg time ago.  this was no easy feat. i was smart enough to wear a straight cut skirt which meant i had to hitch it way up to ride the bike, now that got the attention of several vehicles, harhar! other than that, i found that the bikes were discriminating as they were for taller people, the tactic, tilt it to the side, put your legs on both sides, then tiptoe to get it upright. hilarious! by this time Paul had already sped off in the opposite direction.
Bonding with Brit bloke Paul on the Mekong Delta tour. And yes, he felt the hat would look silly on him!

Even crazier was the liberating experience again done with the sun up high, only lasted for about 15 min, after a motor passed me by I lost my focus and helplessly fell over. next thing i knew my face was close to the asphalt, while i leaned on my elbows, palms and knees for support. Disoriented, i took a few minutes to survey the damage only to realize that my elbow was badly bleeding, my knees badly scraped and the bike's front wheel a little wobbly. i decided to walk over with my bike to an open tailor shop, trying to get medicine or at least help to get back on my bike from the lonely Vietnamese lady. this took too much effort and she wasn't very friendly. with my tail behind my legs and summoning my strength, i drove back to the orchard.

Can you make it faster? We're getting left behind!

I then asked for bandage and medicine from the locals at the orchard while hiding my embarassing wounds from the other tourists. the first question threw at me was 'how is the bike?' and i thought, uh-oh they were going to have me pay for the damaged wheel so i claimed it was fine. i found out later on that they were probably concerned about the bike being initially damaged being the source of my accident. without antiseptic, all the place had were 3 bandages which i scattered across my wounds after soaping it.

This left me feeling drained and shaky on the way back to the boat and bus. getting dissappointed that the bus had no first aid kit as well (take note to bring one just in case you sadly encounter the same plight), i grabbed the first opportunity to get medication for my now painful wounds, a 15 min stop at a local market.

Bonsai garden stop over going home. Cannot forego not posing a shot in it.

This became an adventure. How difficult could it be to get bandage, antiseptic, and possibly get your money exchanged in a local market in Vietnam? Very. I successfully got to buy bandages and antiseptic on the dot after stepping into a pet and beauty shop before finally finding the drugstore. no luck with the money changer though.

Had to bear another 4 hrs going back to Saigon, Paul keeping the last of my energy entertained. on our way back we stopped at a beautiful Bonsai garden to use the toilets and do a bit of sightseeing.

We got back at exactly 7:15pm, pretty prompt. since my stuff was just being kept safe by the hostel past my check out time, i used their ground floor showers to clean up and change speedily to meet up again with fellow Travbuddy Tracy.

One more shot!
She had been responsible for keeping me company 2 out of my 3 nights in Saigon and became one of my few friends in the country. met up at the seeming popular corner backpacker club, Gogo, and was introduced to her Indian friend D.  This is where I encountered another amusing sight.  Hearing a computer talking in the background I turned around to see a vendor holding on to a handle of a funny looking gadget. D enlightened me by sharing that this was used for measurement of your height and weight. Imagine that?! I amusingly asked if anyone in fact patronized this and was answered by a matter of factly, Yes. I joked around and said that the next thing we knew there would be a masseuse giving a massage in the middle of the street, only to be flatly answered that there was one on the other block.
Kissing dragon statue near the market.
Whew! what's next? After enjoying this entertaining view we then headed off to a resto to try out a hot pot and pad thai (I think).

The dinner was spent on as much chit chat and sweet goodbyes as can possibly be squeezed in 3 hrs.

After all the activity, this ended up in a daring motor ride, one of the main modes of transportation around Saigon, to the airport for my  dawn flight home. It was definitely exhilarating to drive around the metro. getting scared of flying off by just holding on to the back of the bike, i opted to get personal with the driver by holding on to his shoulders for safety with my backpack on his foot rest, twas quite convenient. i encourage you guys to try this experience for a mere 50000-60000VND or even cheaper depending on how you bargain.

Bonding with ESL teachers: Tracy from travbuddy and her friend D. Thanks guys, you made my evenings great!

My trip ended with the words of a fellow tourist echoing in my head, "where is home?". For me, home is where the heart is:-)

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All the boats have the same red pa…
All the boats have the same red p…
A lady busy at work: creating spri…
A lady busy at work: creating spr…
How to make rice crispies. the ric…
How to make rice crispies. the ri…
Arrays of dried fish and candies f…
Arrays of dried fish and candies …
Pasig River? LOL! holding on to th…
Pasig River? LOL! holding on to t…
Bonding with Brit bloke Paul on th…
Bonding with Brit bloke Paul on t…
Can you make it faster? Were gett…
Can you make it faster? We're get…
Bonsai garden stop over going home…
Bonsai garden stop over going hom…
One more shot!
One more shot!
Kissing dragon statue near the mar…
Kissing dragon statue near the ma…
Bonding with ESL teachers: Tracy f…
Bonding with ESL teachers: Tracy …
Heading home after a loooonnnngggg…
Heading home after a loooonnnnggg…