Opting for a riverboat over car traffic was a no-brainer. We joined a small tour to experience and learn about the famed ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta. The delta produces more than a third of the country’s annual food crop from just ten percent of its total land mass. The homes that are along river in Saigon are far from luxurious. Our speedboat zoomed past plenty of garbage, small boat vendors and some plant life. The Saigon River splits into the Nine Dragon River just west and south of the city limits creating the mighty Mekong Delta. It is perfect for rice growing along with many other tropical fruits.
After a two hour ride passing fishermen, motorcycle ferries crossing the river and rice-loaded barges we arrived at a family farm. They harvest lemongrass, tapioca, bananas and of course, rice.
The next stop was a small town with a typical street market. It was filled with fresh fish, fruit, ducklings and underwear. Oh, and play-money to burn for deceased ancestors.
Outside of the market was a Cao Dai temple. This religion combines beliefs from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. We arrived at the temple as some chanting began. It was very special.
This small town also has a Buddhist orphanage. The children ranged from toddlers to high schoolers. They were resting before afternoon classes when we arrived.
We were brought to a local restaurant by sampans where we were served shrimp and rice rolls and Elephant Ear Fish plus other local foods which were all outstanding. This was followed with shots of banana and honey whiskey—cheers!
The superstition of a sea monster is real. Just about every boat we passed had evil eyes to scare the monsters away. The eyes made me smile.
We experienced the tiniest tip of the Delta, it was a fulfilling and fun experience.