MeKong Delta was a place that I remember from the VietNam War of my childhood and when I knew that I would be here I felt a strong need to visit.  Maybe it was driven by this early memory but the trip was not what I expected.  Then again this has been a trip that was beyond any expectations. This was a day of contrast and contradictions on so many different levels. Being a tourist is clearly not in my comfort zone.  I am being driven by one man and guided by another- It feels like “driving Miss Daisy” x’s 2 with a Viet Nam twist.

So the day began with Cong and Mr.B picking me up at 8:30 to drive to Cai Be (105km from Saigon south).  Fortunately the roads were in far better repair than the ones that we too yesterday to the tunnels. The MeKong is lush with tropical fruits and vegetables-literally growing on trees. Longans, dragon fruit, mangos, coconuts and the sweetest most delicious bananas you can imagine.  When we got to Cai Be Cong had arranged a boat to take us on the river past the floating markets.  Our first stop was a factory, family owned, where they made by hand rice candy of all sorts.  There was a demonstration of how they puffed the rice that was amazing.  Of course they sold all the products and I am bringing home lots of treats.  Cong explained that there are probably 1000 factories making these products but most of them use machinery.  This was set up as a tourist attraction but that did not diminish its interest for me. Also, according to Cong, Viet Nam is only second to Thailand in rice production.   From there we went on the boat to lunch.  Another feast.  Clearly I was not having dinner tonight.  The presentation was beautiful- I took lots of pictures.

After lunch we transfered to a sampan (a low wood boat with someone standing in the back with a paddle- there is not motor)  I think this is Viet Nam’s version of a Venice gondola.  Not sure which came first.  Not that it really matters.  Just want to give you the visual.  The boat enabled us to go in the narrow canals off the main river.  I took alot of photos of the vegetation.  It was extremely peaceful and calm. From there we were back on the “big” boat where we motored back to the dock to meet our driver to go onto Can Thi.

There is this amazing bridge that was completed in the last several years.  Designed by a Japanese architect it had three towers that look like contemporary Eiffel towers.  It is rather elegent.  From a practical standpoint Cong explained that before the bridge people relied on ferry and the trip would take 4 hours rather than 1.  Travel here is not what we are used to back in the states.

It was quite the jolt for me when we pulled up in front of the hotel.  Can Tho is the largest town/city in the MeKong (almost a million people).  It was the antithesis  of the boat trip.  My first thought was “get me out of here”.  Once I registered that I was able to go with the flow and see what would unfold.  It was one night and as I have learned I can make things work even if they are not exactly as I had planned or expected.






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