After the little surprise yesterday of a post not based on a travel destination, I’m returning today to another snapshot. I started this A-Z Challenge blogging week with the letter “H” and an insight into a few Vietnamese cities, so I thought it would be a touch of symmetry to end it back in Vietnam. When it comes to bodies of water in Vietnam, most people will probably think of beautiful, relaxing, calming Halong Bay in the north (wow … I could’ve added that to H as well!). But I’m heading south, I want to take a look at the Mekong River and whats on offer there.
I’ve been to Vietnam a couple of times and both times, I’ve finished my trip somewhere on the Mekong River. The first time I made my way down to river, under the multitude of monkey bridges, eventually ending up spending my last night in Vietnam at a riverside town called Chau Doc. In reality we nearly didn’t make it. As we explored the activity of the floating markets – sampling fresh pineapple and other tasty fruits – our little boat’s motor failed, leaving us floating aimlessly in the river …. heading into the path of a large barge. I can tell you, we were nervous and preparing to abandon ship! Crisis averted, we eventually made it to Chau Doc …. by bus. That evening, we climbed the nearby Sam Mountain and watched the sunset over the green fields of neighbouring Cambodia. It was probably one of my most memorable sunsets to date. The following morning, we left Vietnam … by boat. Heading down to Mekong River, through a couple of immigration checkpoints, it took us the better part of a day before we arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s vibrant capital city.
My next trip to Vietnam ended a little differently. Departing Ho Chi Minh City from the wharves near the end of Dong Khoi street, we headed first to a little market town on a nearby island. The name of the island eludes me at present but it was pretty typical of most open air, street-side markets in the country. Ultimately, we bypassed the fruit and fresh produce and headed straight for the Vietnamese equivalent of a lolly-shop (or candy store if you prefer). The locals were cooking up a batch of the sweet, sticky popped rice – one of my favourite little snacks. And I had already spied the palm sugar candy elsewhere in the market, I would be going home with blocks of that delicious chewy goodness! We soon left the market, stopping by the riverside for lunch – deep friend whole fish in herbs, served upright between little wooden stakes, and a side of amazingly crunchy fried zucchini flower. Heading deeper into the little tributaries of the Mekong, we eventually got to the point where our boats could go no further in the shallow waters. We had to leg it on the foot the rest of the way to our destination for the evening. Walking along dusty dirt tracks, chickens and stray dogs under foot, children playing in the streets, we reach our homestay. Yep, we are spending the night at the home of a local family. Our rooms are located upstairs, they are relatively open and sparsely decorated but comfortable and welcoming. Our evening is spent in the hammocks in the gardens, chatting to the family, feasting on delicious home cooked meals, and playing games. If I can leave you with just one suggestion for a visit to the Mekong … do a homestay. They are the best way to immerse yourself into local life. You’ll have the time of your life.
This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge
For a list and links to my other challenge posts, click here
For those interested in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for “M’, here’s the link: Snapshot – Mai Chau …. oddly enough it’s another homestay in Vietnam!