We’ve been slightly off the grid of late, staying in a couple of remote homestays in the Mekong Delta and it really lived up to our expectations.
We started in the remote town of Cho Lach, 45km west of Ben Tre and a 3 hour ‘local bus’ from Saigon. Local meaning lots of chickens in boxes and no fixed route. Our homestay family were lovely and on our first night taught us how to make rice pancakes from scratch in their typical Vietnamese kitchen. We ground down the rice grains by hand to make the batter that was infused with saffron, then fried it up with pork, shrimp and beansprouts, so good and a nice change from the usual spring roll cooking class!
We write this next part with regret, as we forgot to replace our camera memory card on what would’ve been the best blog entry ever!
The owner took us on a bike ride to the local market, which was interesting but nothing we hadn’t seen before. We asked him if there was somewhere we could get lunch, he said “we’re going to my brothers.” Ok, we thought, so we followed him further and further into the middle of nowhere. We asked him again where we were going and he said “party!”
Eventually we turn up to a house where there are around 30 men sitting around plastic tables, eating food and downing beer (this was 10am). Slightly trepidatious as Carrie was the only female, we sat down and proceeded to enjoy all sorts of delicious (and some weird) food, with a constant top up of alcohol. Almost every beer Seth had, he was signalled to down it, which he gladly obliged! Around 11am the homemade rice whisky came out and things started to get a bit lairy, but all in good humour and even though some of them had never seen a westerner before, they were so welcoming and genuinely interested in trying to make conversation with us. A fantastic and unique experience that we’ll never forget!
Our second homestay was just south of Can Tho – the biggest city in the Mekong Delta. We stayed in bamboo shacks on the river.
We took a trip at 5:30am to the floating market where it was in full swing. Only food on offer, all at wholesale prices to be sold on at the land market by smaller vendors. Nevertheless there were still floating coffee shops and noodle boats, even a floating house to go and do some karaoke!
We we were dropped off at the land market next and had a guided tour round all the stalls. Some great sights here, a lot of butchery, raw meat and strange fish, plus a couple of century old eggs!
Plus….guess the meat….
Freshly skinned rats…yum.
A trip to Vietnam would be incomplete without visiting the Mekong Delta, you really have to get out into the remote rural villages to truly experience it. The city of Can Tho we found to be an acquired taste, but it’s the small villages and hard working people that make it such a special place. Tomorrow we head to Cambodia. Goodnight Vietnam.