The GoGlobal Blog

Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

This past weekend, we traveled south, to the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is located at the Southern most part of the Mekong River; the largest river in Southeast Asia. It is the place where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the ocean through a series of distributaries. Many of the people that live in the area live, and make their livelihood on boats. This area is known for its food, floating markets, and peaceful scenery.

We took a bus to the dock where you can catch a boat to the Delta. About 40 minutes before we reached the doc, we took a pit stop at the Cao Dai Temple. This temple is a must see for anybody who is interested in different religions. The Cao Dai religion is a religious practice that originated in Vietnam, and is the third most practiced religion in the country. It is a monotheistic religion that mixes ideas from different religions. If you want to learn more about it, I highly recommend looking it up. Wikipedia has a pretty good description (but really). It kind of reminded me of Unitarian Universalism, except more religious, and also of the Baha’i Faith, except with only one “God.” The temple itself is pretty rad also.


After the Cao Dai Temple, we hopped back on the bus and headed to the Mekong Delta dock. From there we caught our boat into the delta. For the weekend, we stayed in an “eco-tourist” homestay. What an “eco-tourist” is, I have no idea, but the homestay was wonderful. A few of the families in the Mekong Delta have made a living off of turning their homes into homestays. We slept in rooms that had about 10 beds in them, with mosquito nets over them, and the family cooked our meals for us.

The food in the Mekong Delta was some of the best food I have had since my arrival in Vietnam. Our first meal consisted of Elephant Ear Fish Spring Rolls, regular spring rolls (which our tour guide described as #1 spring rolls), prawns, rice, soup, and rambutan for dessert. Throughout the weekend, we ate many other incredible foods, including snake and rat. Don’t worry though, the rats that they eat in the Mekong Delta are farmed, and so they only eat coconut and grass. We were warned to never eat rat in the city, because city rat diets tend to consist of lots of undesirable trash. We also were given the opportunity to make our own spring rolls, and ban xeo (Vietnamese pancake that resembles a crepe made out of egg). Honestly, I felt stuffed full for the entire weekend, but it was so worth it.

After our first lunch, we went on a bike ride around the area, and also on a boat ride down one of the tributaries of the Mekong. Life on the Mekong is simple and tranquil, and once again, I felt myself falling more deeply in love with Vietnam.


Visiting the market in Mekong City was its own experience. I was partly horrified, and partly enthralled. We first entered the meat part of the market, where we bought the snake that we would later eat for dinner. Our tour guide casually just carried it around in a bag all day after our visit to the market, while it was still alive. The market sold every kind of meat you could imagine, though most of the beat was still attached to its original animal, which was still very much alive. There were chickens that they would kill on the spot when you bought them. When we first got off the boat at Mekong City to go to the market, there was a woman dumping fish back into the river. Our tour guide told us that sometimes, when in need of good karma, people will buy live fish at the market and return them back to the river. In this way they are saving lives. Across the street from the meat area of the market, were the streets of vegetables and fruits. I loved this area of the market. Think of every type of tropical fruit you can think of, and then picture them all stacked on top of each other for blocks, where you can buy them for 30 cents a piece. I am learning that markets such as these are some of the best places to overdose on a country’s culture.

After the market, we visited a pottery factory, a honey factory, and a coconut candy factory. At the coconut candy factory I got to hold a snake. I’ve always been kind of weirded out by snakes, but holding one made me love them. It was one of the coolest sensations I have ever experienced, I thought it was going to be slippery, but the snake was so strong and soft at the same time. Experiencing life on the Mekong Delta really made me question western consumerism more so than I have so far on this trip. The people in the Delta use everything they can, and make everything they can with whatever they find in the Delta. They are totally self sufficient, and yet, the majority of what they make is exported out of Vietnam. Their work does not feel like work to them, because they reap the benefits directly. When they put in the effort to catch prawns, they get to eat the prawns right away. Though most people live in poverty, they are happy to live the way that they live, and they are proud of the work that they do.

If you want to get an idea of what traditional life in Vietnam is, I recommend visiting the Mekong Delta. It is the opposite of life in Ho Chi Minh City, and other than my many mosquito bites, I loved every second of it.


Comments are closed.