The next day we woke up to find we were making our way along the river into Ho Chi Minh city (formerly known as Saigon). While the ride seemed long to us, we had only actually seen part of it when were informed by the Captain that the ship had been navigating for 5 hours through the winding channel from the point of leaving the South China Sea to the point where we docked.
Today would be the first excursion offered by Azamara in which we would participate – a trip to the Mekong Delta. We wanted to see something outside of the massive city and chose this trip as we thought it would give us a look at the traditional way of life by the river. Our preference is to have private tours however we were unable to source a tour company that would guarantee a trip to the Mekong Delta area and return in time for the ship’s departure. So, we boarded the coach at 8:30am with numerous other people and headed through the very busy city of Ho Chi Minh. This is the largest city in Vietnam with more than 10 million people that continues to be on an aggressive growth trend. The trip took more than 2 hours due to the heavily congested roads. There was a lot of vehicle traffic that was exacerbated by the thousands of motorbikes zooming along during the morning rush. Once we were outside the city limits, we travelled along the expressway, first through many industrial areas and then passing field after field of rice patties.
Upon our arrival in the Mekong Delta, we boarded a boat to the biggest island in the area called Unicorn Island. The region is 39,000 square kilometres of rivers, swamps and islands and is the largest agricultural area in all of Vietnam. However, with our limited time, we knew we would only see a small area.
Our local guide took us on a walk to see a bee farmer. Honey is a major export from the area and they were eager to share with us their royal honey. We were brought to a covered shelter and served tea with honey, kumquat and natural pollen. It was sweet with a slightly zesty taste. Along with the drink we shared dried banana, peanut brittle and dried ginger. Very nice treats of that were typical of the region.
We walked through a large bamboo forest with coconut and jack trees on our way to another covered area where we sampled many local fruits including: mango, dragon fruit, grapefruit, jack fruit, pineapple and eyeball fruit. All were quite different in texture, taste and sweetness. While having our snack, we enjoyed musical performances that included traditional singers and instrumentalists.
We were then led down a path to the canal area. It was hot and there were many mosquitoes and unfortunately we had to wait for some time as boats were loaded with people for their sampan ride. The stairs down to the canal didn’t look overly safe however we held on and made our way down to boats with the help of the local guides.
Once on the sampan boat, we were paddled by two Vietnamese women who gracefully maneuvered our boat through the canal. We passed homes along the water’s edge and admired the canopy of trees growing above us. While we had thought we would see more of how people live and survive along the water, it wasn’t quite that kind of tour – however it was quite a peaceful ride that we enjoyed.
After our departure from the boats, we received a demonstration of how the local people process coconut and enjoyed some sweet coconut candy.
From this location, our coach picked us up to transport us to lunch. On the bus ride back, we could see the clouds starting to collect in the sky and knew we were in for some more rain. Thankfully it held off during our morning tour and lunch.
The coach brought us to the Mekong Rest Stop. This was a huge pavilion where many buses make a stop to feed large numbers of people. While the food was traditional, it felt somewhat like an assembly line and the staff were run off their feet with so many people to handle. The food was tasty and unusual – fried fish called elephant ear was served at the table in its full form. It wasn’t the prettiest fish and we didn’t quite know how to serve it at our end of the table. Our waitress used gloved hands to rip off pieces of flesh without the bones and served them onto our plates. This was an interesting sort of service! We also dined on rice rolls, shrimp, beef & vegetables, squid soup, sticky rice, fried rice, spare ribs, lotus seeds for dessert and tea. It all made for a memorable meal.
After everyone was sufficiently stuffed, we loaded back onto the bus just as the skies opened and it poured. Our ride back to the ship was uneventful and we arrived around 4:00pm.
This gave us time to relax, shower and meet for dinner in the dining room. This evening we enjoyed melt in your mouth scallops followed by buttered chicken and steak cooked to perfection.
The show for the evening was a combination variety show featuring the comedian Mel Mellers who I just didn’t think was very funny and the talented Beverley Davison who was fantastic on her fiddle.
After a long day in the Mekong Delta, we retired after the show.
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 2 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 3 & Onboard Azamara Day 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 2 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 3 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 4 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 5 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 6 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 8 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 9 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 10 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 11 - click here
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.