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The Mekong Delta: Riding the Nine Dragons

The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries.  The Vietnamese call the region đồng bằng sông Cửu Long or “nine dragon river delta”).  Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and many of the villages are often accessible by rivers and canals rather than by road. 

Laura and I toured the Mekon Delta on March 27, 2010.  We set off out of Saigon, south along a new toll road past rice paddy fields, and arrived two hours later at a town called Mỹ Tho.  From Mỹ Tho, we took a boat down the river, passing fishing boats and floating villages (below), to Tortoise Island.

Below Laura and I dismbark the boat onto Tortoise Island for a Pho lunch.

We took a smaller boat through the natural canals that crease along the Ben Tre Province. Below, Laura and I blend in with the local villagers.

We hiked to the Tan Thach commune, part of Ben Tre Province (below).

 Tan Thach commune is scattered with Vietnamese cottage industries, snake farm, coconuts and water palms. We were able to peek inside villagers’ homes, taste coconut candies (below) and drink tea made from honey bees.

Below, I try some banana moonshine!

Laura, meanwhile, makes a friend (below).

At the end of the hike, we had fruit and tea while a local group treated us to traditional Mekong Delta folk music.

Clearly our tour of the Mekong was markedly different than that experienced by U.S. swift boat and PT-10 servicemen during the Vietnam War.  Like other parts of Vietnam, the people were hospitable and enthusiastic to meet Americans.  Then again, maybe it was all that banana moonshine!

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