Saigon: Floating Around the Mekong River
My cousin and I are on a tour bus right now heading back to our hotel after a day of exhilarating adventure in the majestic countryside of Vietnam – The Mekong Delta.
Anyway, let me take you through the highlights of our journey today.
After starting the day pumping ourselves up with a cup of nice strong Vietnamese coffee, we immediately braved Saigon’s busy roads to catch the tour bus that will take us to the Mekong River, specifically its famous Delta. Did I mention that Saigon is the motorbike capital of the world? We almost missed our tour bus and lost our lives because we never realized what we were in for! Yet we survived and had fun at the same time. Whew!
Moving on, we arrived at our destination safe and sound amidst the noise of the local tour guide who insisted on talking about what’s on our left and what’s on our right (but he’s just doing his job I tell myself).
First stop, honey bee farm! Where to my delight a folk song performance warmly welcomed us. On our wooden table was a teapot, small cups, a bottle of honey, and pre-cut limes. We poured the tea into the cup, added a few drops of honey, squeezed a piece of lime, and voila, we have a sweet, zesty honey tea to awaken our sleepy souls.
After taking photos with the performers and the beehives, we went for a walk to the ‘River of the Nine Dragons’ (aka The Mekong). We had to ride a small rowing boat through the Tan Thach natural canal before we reached the main river. The boat can only accommodate four persons plus the boat captain (I don't know what it's called, a small boat?)
While waiting to board, we were delighted by the lush palm trees and spectacular green foliage surrounding the canal. The place reminded me a lot of my hometown on Mindoro Island in the Philippines.
We paddled our way to the picturesque little province of Ben Tre Island where we learned how to make the famous keo dua (coconut candy) and how to carry (gasp!) a huge snake on our shoulders, an experience I shan’t soon forget!
After that it was ‘Tortoise Island’ via a bigger motorboat were we had lunch in the orchard garden. It is a tropical haven of fruits. Mangosteens, Dragon fruits, Durians, Rambutans and Guavas adorn the trees and more importantly our plates!
While waiting for our food to be served, we mingled with some of the tourists and met a young couple from Spain, a family from Indonesia and a solo traveller from Japan. We all shared some good stories about the places, people and cultures we’d seen while enjoying our freshly cooked food.
After a quick lunch, we went back to our motorboat for our final stop – the historic and magnificent Xa Loi Pagoda. From Tortoise Island, we landed to the temple in less than 15 minutes.
Xa Loi Pagoda is a silent sanctuary engulfed within a beautiful garden. Colorful shrines with intricate architectural designs and a massive statue of Gautama Buddha are all present. Some tourists took time to worship while my cousin and I were busy posing for selfies.
What a way to end our “floating” adventure. I can say that this trip was one of the best I had in my three-day stay in Saigon and I hope to return soon for another peaceful floating adventure!