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Vietnam: Mekong Delta

By on January 28, 2018 in Vietnam with 3 Comments

Mekong Delta, Vietnam“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything.” – Unknown

After a fascinating morning at the Cu Chi Tunnels, our tour guides shuffled us off to lunch. They asked us if we had any food restrictions, as we would receive a preset menu.

Our lunch would consist of whole fish and Vietnamese side dishes. Although Elaine likes fish, she decided on the vegetarian meal. Erin was skeptical, and she told our guides she could eat the fish, as long as it did not have a face. They laughed at her “no face” fish request, but obliged. I love whole fish, and I was game to try whatever Vietnamese dishes were put in front of me.

We ordered our drinks separately. I saw this tantalizing, coconut drink floating by, which I requested.

Sticky Rice Ball, Vietnam   Sticky Rice, Vietnam

The sticky, rice ball was unique and delicious. The faceless fish made Elaine and Erin cringe, so I assembled the fish roll-ups for each of us. As Elaine had her own vegetarian meal, the wait staff were flustered when they saw her sampling our fish. They pointed to her vegetarian dishes as if to say, ‘Hey, lady, you have your own food. Stop eating theirs.’ My coconut drink was creamy, smooth, and tasty. We had a wonderful, culinary experience.

Whole Fish, Vietnam   Coconut Drink, Vietnam

Next up… The Mekong Delta, “one of the most fertile areas in southern Asia, supplying the country with most of its rice, fruit, and seafood and affording foreign visitors a wonderful insight into the real Vietnam*.”

We hopped into our tour guide’s vehicle, and off we went. As our guide purchased our tickets, I bartered for three Vietnamese Conical Hats. I wanted us to wear the straw hats as we explored the Mekong Delta. After all, any time I saw friends post pictures of themselves at the Mekong Delta, they were wearing the hats. I thought we would look cute in our photos.

Gina Pacelli, Boat Ride to the Mekong Delta   Gina Pacelli, Boat Ride to the Mekong Delta

Bartering can be fun and exciting. A friend had told me to start by cutting everything in half as a starting point, which I did. Given the crazy conversion rates, I had a tough time doing the math in my head and striking a deal. When I told the guy the hats were too much, I felt awful when I realized how ridiculously inexpensive they  were. I paid the guy his requested price, which was only a dollar or two. From that point on, I was a little more careful about bartering. The merchandise was already extremely cheap. I was negotiating downward for sport. They were trying to make a living.

Gina Pacelli and Erin, The Mekong Delta, Vietnam   Elaine, Mekong Delta

Travel tip: For the touristy, more expensive places, tell the vendor, “Oh my God! That’s so expensive,” then offer half the asking price. When the price is only a few dollars, just pay the locals. 

Guide, Mekong Delta, Vietnam   Mekong Delta, Vietnam

We traveled by boat to access the Mekong Delta. The air was breezy and warm, and my skin tingled with anticipation of what was to come.

Our tour guide dropped us off at our boat, and another guide took us around the loop. The Mekong Delta, also referred to as “Vietnam’s Rice Bowl,” was lush, tropical, and gorgeous – a perfect, little spot in nature. This was one of my favorite places in Vietnam.

Mekong Delta   Tour Guide, Mekong Delta

Travel tip: Once we arrived at the Mekong Delta boats, the guides had Vietnamese Conical Hats for us. If you do not wish to purchase one, you can still experience wearing a rice hat on your excursion.  

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

After our wonderful ride, our guide brought us back to land. We walked through the shops, and he brought us over to taste some candy. At this point, I needed to excuse myself. I think the coconut drink was the culprit for my rumbling stomach and sweaty palms. After not returning for some time, my friends ventured off to look for me and saved me from a bathroom with no toilet paper. This was the first time food had made me sick during my travels. In my haste to taste the pretty, coconut liquid, all logic escaped me as I overlooked the ice in my drink.

We then took the boat back to the mainland, jumped into our tour van, and headed to our hotel. We were required to attend a mandatory meeting hosted by our travel agency, Gate 1. We did not realize the meeting would be a waste of our time. We expected to learn more about what was to come. However, the meeting mostly consisted of how to rotate seats on our bus.

I am so happy Erin researched the Mekong Delta before our trip. Despite my upset stomach, this was one of my highlights.

*Quote credit: 1,000 Places To See Before You Die

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  1. Vietnam: Cu Chi Tunnels : Gina Pacelli | January 28, 2018
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