The day started with a two-hour drive to ‘My Tho’ a city in the Mekong Delta and boarded a river boat to another island where we saw how coconut candy is made, before sampling it. Surprisingly, it looks really easy to make with very few ingredients.
At midday, it pounded down with heavy rain, so we ended up splashing out on a couple of paintings we saw at a wee art stall whilst waiting for the rain to settle.
From there we boarded some small rowing boats and headed up a little channel about 1km into the island. The narrow inlet was bounded by mangroves and palms which towered over your head from each side of the stream. It was definitely one of the highlights of the day.
Nearing the end of the day, it was time to head to our homestay. We hopped on the bus that we was supposedly meant to be taking us to the homestay, instead we’re pulled over on a random stretch of road and were advised to hop off. Outside, we find another local guy but no vehicles. He led us over the highway to three drivers with scooters… This was to be our ride to the homestay. Good times.
We rode on the back of the scooters through farm land, rice paddies, weaving through a network of concrete paths, passing other vehicles, houses, over bridges, and finally to our homestay.
Upon arriving the homestay, Alan gets ‘stuck-in’ and gives making Bahn Xeo (Vietnamese Pancakes) a crack!
Enjoying our meal with the other travellers and the local families
The next day, we started as early as 3:00am. if you count the dozen of roosters going off, along with a yelping dog and raft of ducks. With ear plugs in we continued to sleep until 5:30am when the alarm woke us.
One of the local kids escorted us on about a 1km walk through the village along the streams to the main river. There we boated up to Can Tho and the floating markets.
The floating markets are wholesalers. They are where the farmers/merchants trade in bulk to smaller boats who then transport the goods to the markets in the cities and towns (The large boats are a 10-tonne capacity). The goods probably change hands about two to three times before before reaching the consumer. It really makes you wonder how much the producers are getting paid for their product when the consumer is paying around $1US (tourist price) for a pineapple!
From the floating markets we headed to the rice noodle factory; a small scale family run factory where rice flour is mixed with casava flour (50:50). The mixture is then made into a paste and cooked to a similar thickness as a pancake. It is then removed from the heat, dried in the sun for four hours, then put through a shredding machine to create the noodles. The whole process is really efficient and nothing goes to waste. The husk from the rice is fed to the fire to cook the rice noodle sheets, and any leftovers are fed to the pigs out the back. The rice noodles sell for 20,000 dong per kg ($1US) and it takes three to four rice sheets to make 1kg. They seem to be able to make about two rice sheets per minute, with six people in the production line.
Now we wrap up the day with Alan having a taster of barbecued rat. He never fails to try new things. (Tastes just like barbecued chicken apparently).
It’s going to be a long bus trip back to our base in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s 1:40pm now and we are due back at 6:00pm. We’re looking forward to a hot shower, massage and a decent sleep (with no roosters this time).