Vietnamese FOD: The Mekong Delta is the largest rice growing region in Vietnam. It produces almost 2/3 of the rice in Vietnam.
Everyday Randomness: getting lost on one of the thousands of islands in the Mekong Delta.
We took three ferries today and were on as many islands; island hopping I believe is the term. The first was at about the 35km mark after we had successfully tasted the Hu Tieu that we tried to get last night in a lovely riverfront cafe. They also served a hearty cup of coffee. Speaking of coffee, it is a religion over here! This morning we struggled to find places something other than just coffee!
The first ferry crossing didn’t appear on Google maps, in fact the entire river we were about to cross wasn’t there but with maps.me not giving us much to go by we said we take it.
We arrived on a beautiful, small (or so I thought) island with vibrant flowers and surprised residents. We were hoping that where the road ended on the map would also coincide with a ferry crossing but the road just kept on going. For a long while I thought we were going to have to circle the entire island (which I came to realise is very big) just to get back to where we started and we didn’t have a notion what our next move from there would be!
This map gives an indication of just how many islands there are!
Thankfully we arrived at the original ferry line that Google maps had in and all was right with the world! We were very relieved! I wish I could’ve enjoyed the cycle around the island a bit more but sure I’ll enjoy the memories!!!
Parts of the next island seemed to be complete mud baths and we had to get off at times to walk with the bikes. As open street maps was highly inaccurate here we couldn’t tell which roads were “roads” (well wide dirt tracks), which ones were paved roads the width of a footpath and which were literally single tracks in the jungle! I lost count of the number of U-turns we had to make but eventually we managed to find an actual road. I have never been so happy to see tarmacadam!!!
We returned to easier navigation for about 5km or so until we dagger into a cafe for shelter from the rain. Crucially, they had hammocks so this was a particularly good rain break! After about 20 minutes the rain had eased up and didn’t really look like it was going to stop anytime soon so we put the coats on and braved it. It was only 10km to our planned food stop but the rain did get heavier at times and if we were further away we probably would have pulled in!
It stopped completely once we reached the last ferry, which was a case of getting the elbows out to get on it! After the crossing we had a pitstop to put oil on the chains after they had been washed out by the hose in Sisophon. It made some difference and we gliding the next 20km until we got to this bridge, which involved more steady pushing but provided some good views!
Hotel Xiao (mango hotel) was easy to find due to the mango colour of the hotel. We arrived absolutely filthy from all the rain but we’re delighted to find out that there was a food tour on that evening for the price of the food and a tip of just $5!! Which is extremely good value!
We scrubbed up and chilled out on the hammocks on the rooftop terrace with a beer until it was time for the tour. The guide had very good English and was a chirpy fellow, he even knew where Ireland was which was a first!! The tour started with barbecue pork in rice paper with so many ingrediant! The root locus and lemongrass (unsure if it was the same lemongrass as is in Thailand) were particularly tasty and the pork was succulent! A good start!
Muffins of all things were on the menu next! The muffins were made rice, contained minced pork and prawns. We wrapped some of the muffin in a mustard leaf together with lettuce and mint. It was then dipped in a fish sauce. It was really really good and totally unique!
Usually the hot pot dishes here can be a bit hit and miss but the next spot had the most delicious eggplant and minced pork hotpot (and beer for €0.50 which is always a plus). Field mice are a speciality in South Vietnam supposedly and this place did very good mice, unfortunately no one else on the tour was up for tasting it so I’ll have to try and convince Liam to go back there tomorrow!!
The dessert stop (Vietnamese people don’t have dessert, to quote the guide “we don’t have any rules, we just eat what we want whenever”) was sticky rice. The woman on the street selling it is there 365 days of the year and I can see why. The sticky rice (normal and turmeric flavour) is put into a waffle with coconut, sugar and peanuts and the whole thing is wrapped in rice paper! Absolutely delicious!
After the tour we walked around the night market which had all kinds of strange food options! We found a stall that sold the savoury pancakes that we had in Dalat last year so we had one of those as well just to add our own stop to the food tour! The pancake was fantastically light and the chilli sauce packed a bit of a kick!
Went to bed very content and early as we have a 4:30am start tomorrow!