It was another early day, and after another breakfast we got into our bus and left the hotel for a day out on the Mekong Delta.
Unfortunately we weren’t going to visit the floating villages/markets, but it was still a good experience nonetheless. We were going to visit a couple of islands before heading over to tour the Ben Tre province. On one island we learned how coconuts are harvested and all different parts are used. Most prominent was the manufacturing of coconut candy, while there were also carvings, and some coconut husks were used for burning to cook the coconut candy.
While on this island I also got to have my first experience holding a snake. This one was rather large but wasn’t poisonous, instead it was a constrictor. I didn’t get any of my own photos of this, but one of the others got one of me with the snake, so hopefully later on after the trip I’ll be able to post proof!
Another island we visited we got to visit was more for trying various tropical fruit. These were mostly your standard watermelon, pineapple and mango, we also had fresh jackfruit and a special red dragonfruit (normally, dragonfruit has white flesh). We were also treated to some traditional Vietnamese music and singing.
From there we left for another, larger island in the Ben Tre province. We took small row boats up a small river, surrounded by water coconuts and other flora. After about 15 minutes we disembarked, and it was time for lunch.
Lunch was a five course meal, starting with fried fish in fresh spring rolls, moving through steamed prawns, pork pancakes and some deliciously seasoned chicken. As per usual, the final course was a fresh fruit dessert.
We had enough time before leaving for a bit of rest, and we were surround by hammocks. Some of us rested for a short while in the hammocks until it was time to go.
This was to be my first tuktuk experience. These tuktuks had an open roof, so we got on the back and put helmets on. Occasionally, we would duck to avoid low hanging branches. They took us for a tour through Ben Tre Province, ending at a harbour where our original boat was waiting.
We headed back to the mainland, and loaded back into the bus. It was a couple of hours back to the city. Once we arrived, we had a couple of hours before our final group dinner. Some of the group were finishing their tour here in Ho Chi Minh City, but six of us were continuing on to Cambodia. Those continuing on from our group were myself and my two companions, and a family of three.
So for those of us continuing onwards, we had a new group meeting to attend, where we met our new guide and the new group. There were none others going on the trip, all of whom had been together on another tour through Vietnam, though they had skipped Nha Trang and flown from Da Nang directly to Ho Chi Minh.
We only had a short amount of time left before it was time to go for our final dinner with our old group. Tonight we would in style. We went to the top floor of the Palace Saigon Hotel, to the Lemongrass Restaurant. Here we had our own private room, shelled out for overly expensive drinks, and rather tasty food.
Here we celebrated our tour guide, who really made the trip special for us. John, the best talker of the group, gave a great speech, sprinkling some lighthearted flak throughout. Afterwards, one of the girls presented our guide with our tip that we’d organised for him.
We paid the bill and headed up to the rooftop, which had a stunning view of the burgeoning city, and we took pictures. Of each other and with our tour guide. We caught cabs back to the hotel, and went for one final drink at a nearby bar. We saw a lot of young men and women going upstairs, and reasoned that upstairs must be a karaoke or nightclub area. None of us went up to check.
Soon we had finished our drinks, and it was time to say goodbye. We shook hands, embraced and kissed this we wouldn’t see again, and said “See you in the morning to the others continuing on to Cambodia with us. Unfortunately we weren’t due much rest, as we had yet another early morning ahead…