Many things have changed in Vietnam since the last time I was there 13 years ago. The roads have improved, the mines have been detected and removed and there are less bikes and more scooters on the streets. The cyclo, Vietnam’s rickshaw, has almost vanished and less people seem to be wearing the conical rice hat. But some things are still exactly the same. One of my clearest memories of this country was that of every single child and some grownups calling out “hello” to you when they see you. Constantly! For the entire four weeks of my vacation.

So, as soon as we left the city and entered rural areas and the omnipresent shouts of “Hello!” started on this trip, I realized how little things can just be an eternal part of a country.

Loura, who we had met in Myanmar, had told us about her great biking trip in the Mekong Delta and had recommended a tour company also. So, before we arrived in Vietnam, we booked a 3-day/ 2-night visit starting from Ho Chi Minh City to take us to where the kids greet you.

Our guide picked us up early in the morning and drove us to the pier in My Tho, two hours from the city. The two German girls joining us on our tour, got into the small family boat with us and off we went down the Mekong river and along some canals. We took a break at a local home where we got to taste some tea with honey and lime, fruits and lovely rice-coconut paper with sesame.

First day cycling tour Mekong Delta 1

First day cycling tour Mekong Delta

hammock Vietnam

Boat woman Vietnam Mekong Delta

Boat Violet

Mekong Delta

First day cycling tour Mekong Delta 6

Shortly after we got back onto the boat after our pause, a young man appeared next to me and asked if he could talk to me. When I agreed, an inquisition started :”My name is (something Vietnamese). What is your name?” “How old are you?” When I told him my age he replied “You are very old! I am only 25.” Well, thank you! The game continued and he asked about my religion, favourite movies, music etc. Next he wanted me to sing him a song, which I declined wanting to spare the whole boat the unpleasant experience. I then found out the fellow was not only the youngest son of the boat family that lived beneath the deck, but also a songwriter. He presented us with two of his songs he had written and that mainly expressed that he was single and was looking for an American, Canadian, French, English….girlfriend. It was then that I realized it was flirting in Vietnamese that we were in the middle of. He explained that he didn’t want a Vietnamese girl, he wanted one with a pointy nose, long legs and white skin. I was flattered that he stuck to me despite my old age and wrong skin colour. When I told him I was married and my husband was awaiting me in Germany, the little guy sure looked sad. But the tip we handed him when leaving the boat cheered him up again.

First day cycling tour Mekong Delta 99

After lunch we got on our bikes and started cycling down small lanes and cute bridges crossing the delta canals. We made a stop at a pop-rice “factory”, had a look around and tasted a few specialities. We spent the night at a guest house on stilts, surrounded by floating vegetable and flower gardens.

Bridge Cycling Mekong Delta

Pop Rice Mekong Delta

Boat Mekong Delta

Bike Ferry Mekong Delta

House on stilts Mekong Delta

The next morning we took the ferry to Vinh Long and started biking along small canals winding through the delta like a labyrinth. We passed farmers and fishermen, local workers and the aforementioned children, waving and shouting “hello” every few meters. Along the banks we saw all kinds of tropical fruit, ready to be picked: huge jackfruit, over-ripe papayas, full grapefruits, tiny limes, purple-red rambutan and our new found favourite: the milk apple. At some point we made a stop at a longan workshop where lots of women sat on the floor, peeling the fruit and separating the seed from the flesh which would be then exported to China.

Ferry Mekong Delta

Ferry Mekong Delta

Biking Mekong Delta

Second day cycling tour Mekong Delta 97

Vietnamese people Mekong Delta

Milk apple

Milk Apple Vietnam

Longan workshop

Longan workshop

Longan workshop

We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant and had a siesta afterwards at a little café where we were able to relax with a Vietnamese coffee in one of the hammocks that you find at pretty much every local eatery in Vietnam. Afterwards we biked some more along beautiful yellow-green rice paddies and small riverside villages.

Second day cycling tour Mekong Delta 6

Hammocks Vietnam

Monkey-Bridge Mekong Delta

Cycling Mekong Delta

First day cycling tour Mekong Delta 9

Our accommodation for the night was a so-called home stay which means the guesthouse is run by a family and they live in a building next to the guests. A nice touch was that we got a short cooking class before our dinner where we learned how to make Vietnamese spring rolls filled with taro and pancakes with vegetables. Our main course was a delicious fish hot pot with lots of vegetables, such as okra, pumpkin flowers, tomatoes, taro and soy beans.

Homestay Mekong Delta

Second day cycling tour Mekong Delta 9

Vietnamese Food

On our last day we had a morning boat trip to the biggest floating market of the area where we watched local buyers and sellers exchange their wares for money. Interesting was that the vendor boat shows what produce is on offer by hanging the fruits or vegetables on a rod high above the boat. Local advertising, I would call it.

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

Floating Market Mekong Delta

After the market we went along more quiet, meandering canals of the Mekong Delta by boat. Later we cycled again and visited a colorful Cao Dai temple (Interestingly Caodaistic temples are all built the same and integrate parts of different world religions), before sitting down for lunch with our aching butts. The whole tour was a fantastic way of exploring the delta and despite the painful rear end, we enjoyed the cycling trip with Sinhbalo greatly. While the others got in the bus to head back to HCMC, we stayed in Can Tho for the night to move on further west from here.

Mekong Delta Vietnam

Mekong Delta Vietnam

Cao Daism temple

Cao Daism temple

Cao Daism temple

First day cycling tour Mekong Delta 7

 

6 Comments

 

  1. 28/02/2014  20:43 by Jay Pee Reply

    Very good! Fantastic fotos! Beautiful!

  2. 01/03/2014  07:34 by Eva Reply

    Großartig geschrieben, liebe S! Und die Bilder dazu... Wow V! Samstag Morgen und ich waere jetzt gerne mit Mann, Kind und Radanhaenger ;) auf gerade dieser Tour, um dann aus der Haengematte heraus dem bunten Treiben und Ziehen in der Waerme zuzusehen und mit Euch zu lachen. :*

    • 01/03/2014  10:08 by V Reply

      VIELEN DANK! :) Ja, das wäre super! Bisserl Zeit hätten wir noch. Ihr drei könnt uns gerne noch treffen! ;) GLG in die heimischen Gefilde! :-*

  3. 01/03/2014  12:53 by Silvi Reply

    Hey ihr Lieben, das sieht so toll aus.. Bin jetzt sowas von in Urlaubsstimmung - nur noch 1 Woche dann gehts los :) freu mich sehr, dass wir uns dann bald sehen!! Wenn ihr vorher noch Tipps für HCMC habt, nur her damit. Genießt es weiterhin.. Liebste Grüsse aus M

    • S
      10/03/2014  04:19 by S Reply

      Tipps kommen aufs Handy! Freuen uns sehr aufs Treffen in ein paar Tagen!! :)

  4. 05/03/2014  13:50 by Antonella Reply

    I like the foto with the two coffees and the happiness in S face :).

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