|So we headed off on a 2-day trip to the 40,000Km2 Mekong Delta area - a little apprehensive as friends suggested we thought twice about it due to the time spent traveling, but hoped we sorted this by taking a fast boat, and it did the trick!
In the Mekong Delta area in South Vietnam only 2 seasons are experienced, whereas in the North the are 4. Here 4 crops grow each year of which 60 per cent is rice, making it the second largest producer of rice after Thailand. Once a part of the Khmer kingdom, the Mekong Delta was the last part of modern-day Vietnam to be annexed and settled by Vietnamese.
Mekong, through some strange translation, including some Chinese influence, means 9 Dragons, and the river is 4500Km long, passing through 5 countries: source is in Tibet, then China, Laos, Cambodia and finishing in Vietnam, making it the longest in the world. At this delta region the river has an average depth of 60m and can be up to 3Km wide. At the Ben The region that we visited there are over 1000 fishing farms, and we watched as they made their daily quota of fish food, made of spinach, bran, salt water and salt, to ensure fat, juicy fish! A combination of Chinese, Khmer and Cham live here, many on floating houses in the delta, which is actually a clever idea as during the wet season the waters raise by 2-3m, flooding much of the lowland around. People even allow buffalo to then live in their raised houses as they are so precious!
We visited the Clam people at their village on the side of the Delta. They are majority Malay, who are Muslim and learn Arabic in junior school before integrating into main-stream school with the other locals. Their main source of income is through weaving silk and fishing.
Among other things we saw were tropical fruits (always good to know what we have actually been eating!), water buffalo, a bee farm, heard local traditional music, tasted coconut candy and moved around in a boat.....lovely!
Spent the day with a mixture of people doing 1, 2 and 3 day trips so were not surprised at the end to be put on a different bus to everyone else - were surprised however for it to be a local bus, that took double the expected time and had no idea where we had paid to stay!! Luckily someone did pick us up on arrival. Next day we headed up to Phnom Penh on fast boat which was such a good idea as others took over double the time and boiled!