During our evening meals, we shared tables with other guests, which was a nice way of meeting different people from all walks of life and places. Consequently, we talked about trips that they had already been on with the consensus that The Mekong Delta trip was preferable to the Ho Chi Minh city trip. We weren’t looking forward to the three -hour journey but as we probably wouldn’t be visiting this area again, this couldn’t be avoided. Expecting a coach, we were surprised to find ourselves in a mini-bus; unfortunately, this wasn’t to prove to be very comfortable with three people on each bench seat.
Driving into the city, we were surprised by the sheer volume of motorbikes and scooters. In places they weaved in and out of the different lanes; in other places they had their own lane separated by a barrier.
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh, the skyline was dominated by the typical modern high rises but as we drove further into the countryside, we passed through shanty towns and rice fields before arriving at the river. Here we boarded a boat and had to wear life jackets, although drowning would have been the least of our worries, looking at the state of pollution in the water.
As we sailed along the river, we were treated to a variety of fresh fruits to try, which was refreshing after the journey there. Soon we stopped, so that we could transfer to a smaller boat, for a trip through the tributaries. The Vietnamese lady, on the back of the boat was meant to row but at first ours cheated by using the engine to avoid being caught in a traffic jam!
As the tributary narrowed, she stopped the engine and stood up, and using long oars she manoeuvred us through. Surprisingly here, as on the whole trip, we didn’t see any wildlife although, talking to other people on our return to the ship, they had seen two very large lizards about to fight over some food
After boarding the larger boat again, our next stop was a small market area, where we could see how different products were made from rice. It was an interesting short break watching them being made. We sampled rice paper, a candied rice sweet and rice wine, although I don’t think anyone was brave enough to try the snake wine. There was also a shop with a local artist displaying their work.
Another stop was at a villa that had been restored to how it would have been ninety years ago. As well as being interesting, we had the bonus of free Wi-Fi.
The highlight of the tour was to have been a visit to a local floating market! Having seen the pictures on the ships screen of sailing along with the small market boats coming up to us trying to sell their goods, we were looking forward to experiencing this.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. As we sailed along, we saw a few shops in the houses along the side of the river and some of these looked like they would fall into it at any minute, the small boats failed to materialise. A few large boats were moored in the river, but these appeared to be living quarters. It was certainly interesting though, seeing how the locals lived although some of there toilet habits, as we passed, were not as impressive.
Our stop for lunch was interesting as the food was based on local cuisine. As we sat down, we were faced with a fish that, in theory, was then taken away to be cooked. The food was not to our taste but was plentiful and enjoyed by the other members of our group.
We were soon back on the mini-bus with another three- hour journey, to look forward too!