I did a two day trip to the Mekong Delta. I compared the tours offered by a few different operators (to the total amusement of some people I'd started nattering to in a cafe the night before who'd watched me spend a LONG time doing this, in between buying some pictures and gabbing) and basically it seemed there were ones that included cycling and ones that didn't. I rejected the cycling ones deciding it was too hot for those, and finally plumped for TNK Travel and have no complaints with them.
After passing the slums outside of Saigon we drove through the countryside.
I'll have to dig out the leaflet to remember everything but we went to Trung Luong and took a boat to Mytho through the Bao Dinh Canal and went to Mytho fruit market, took loads of boats - some bigger and motorized, others smaller and rowed by women. We spent time on the river and on canals. We saw a floating market, saw how rice, rice paper, and rice noodles were made. We watched some women weaving carpets at a very fast rate, drank honey tea and rice wine and banana wine and held a snake. We also saw them making cocunut candy and had an earsplitting musical performance to watch. We went on the Tien River to Tortoise Island and saw Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix Islands. We also went on Thai Son Canal and to Ben Tre.
We visited several villages along the way and had to walk over a monkey bridge. I don't remember ever being so scared. I thought I was going to throw up and can't believe I didn't fall in. Basically, a monkey bridge is a series of logs across the river, a bit like a gymnastics beam. Width wise, one foot fitted on the bridge at a time. For support there was a single wobbly bamboo rail. I'll shove up a picture sooner or later! Here's one in the meantime though. And here's another one. We had no choice as the boat had been moved to the other side!
In the night we had a choice between a hotel or a homestay. I chose the homestay, and we got to eat in an orchard, sleep in bungalows on the river and see clear skies full of stars and watch fireflies darting around. And we had a tour of the village the next day before meeting up with the rest of the group. In the villlage, all the kids came out of their schools to say hello to us. It was so cute!
We got back to Saigon early evening. It was a nice calm two days and whilst I did see a lot of things that brought home a lot of reality checks, it was a nice break from the emotional intenseness of some of the rest of the trip and involved no war - well, not much anyway!
To sum up then: I had a wonderful trip. Met some lovely people - one of the benefits of travelling alone; ate some lovely things; saw things I'll never forget and basically fell in love with the country and it's character and characters. Oh and flying home, I got a perfectly clear view of Fuji, in all its splendour, from the plane. Tomorrow it's back to work.
(only nine things on my list left to do now!)