Mekong Delta I

We fought our way out of Ho Chi Minh without too many close calls and headed into the Mekong Delta region. The delta, as you’d expect, is famous for its lush scenery and reliance on water travel. At its delta, the Mekong splits into nine main rivers (sometimes known as the nine dragons), and literally hundreds of streams, rivers, and canals divide up the land with rice fields and other crops in between. Boat tours and floating markets are the things most tourists hit, and we plan to do so.

Once we had our bearings and were sufficiently out of the city, we decided to finally leave highway one behind and try out one of the dozens of small highways criss-crossing the region. The land away from the main highway is much prettier so you’re able to actually enjoy the lushness that is advertised in guidebooks. On our second day navigating the smaller roads, we also enjoyed the ferries that are required on a regular basis. Travelling only 40 miles, we needed to take 4 ferries of varying size to cross small canals and large rivers. Two of these ferries came as a complete surprise to us, as our maps just showed an unbroken road. The only setback we’ve encountered is the unreliable roadwork, which at its worst varies from large rocky gravel to slabs of concrete lined up and only wide enough for one bike.

The Mekong Delta locals have been more welcoming than most places in Vietnam. The waves, smiles, and greetings all seem genuine and warm. They also love hammocks here – many of the roadside cafes have more hammocks hung for guests than chairs, which we have not taken advantage of enough.

The food so far has been fairly standard fare, with us mostly relying on still delicious beef pho. One thing we haven’t mentioned in detail is just how cheap great food can be in this country. A couple of nights ago we went to a pretty swanky looking restaurant on a boat in one of the many rivers. Waiters in bow ties, greeters at the gangplank; it was the sort of place we would check the prices before sitting down. But we enjoyed a starter of squid spring rolls, bbq’d beef wrapped in leaves, fried rice, a huge Tilapia fish cooked perfectly with garlic and peppercorns, four beers and a cup of tea – all for less than $15. That meal was abnormally good, but the pricing was pretty standard and makes for cheap travel.

Photos are coming soon!

~ by Elephants on January 13, 2011.

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