Different from the previous trip, we wanted to experience the daily life of local people in the Mekong Delta. “Abundant” is the best adjective to describe the delta. Created by alluvium of mighty Mekong River, the Mekong Delta is the biggest rice-growing region in the country and Vietnamese often refer it as Vietnam’s rice basket. The region is crisscrossed by the chocolate-coloured canals encompassing green fields and peaceful villages. This fertile delta nourishes the cultivation of not only rice, but also sugarcane, fruit, coconut, fish and shrimp which sustains life of its inhabitants. Everything grown in this land has its own purposes. For example, rice, fish and shrimps are used for daily meals; leaves are for salads and soups; fruit is used for desserts; banana stems are for rope and floating raft and water hyacinth is used for feeding cattle. Life of people here also depends on the river. With the help of our tour guide, it is not difficult to find a three-generation family that was born, lives and earns their livings in their vessels and homes on the water.
Floating market of Cai Be is the most popular “work place” of people here. The daily life in Cai Be floating market starts from early dawn with noises and shouts of busy people and ends at noon. Dozens of boats carrying large amount of sugar cane, pineapples, jackfruit, pumpkins and vegetables were rowing around. Each boat has a tall wooden pole which displays a sample of what the boat’s owner sells, so that goods can be “advertised” and seen from a long distance.
Besides, there were many boats offering local soups, snacks and even coffee for dealers and buyers attending the market.
Customers generally use smaller boats which are filled with various products purchased.
We spent our night at a local family who offered homestay options. Everything was very simple and pretty much as what we expected from a Mekong Delta homestay – no hot water, no TV and of course, no wifi. The host was open, friendly and easygoing. She showed us around the backyard garden and duck farm where she collected almost everything to prepare for our meals. For dinner we had a selection of delicious Mekong food including duck soup with bamboo and a deep fried fish with mango sauce that was freshly caught from the river outside the house. All was cooked perfectly and full of flavour. To accompany the main dishes, we had fresh salad, vegetables and lots of other tropical fruit. I have included some photos below showing all the weird but juicy fruits growing in the garden of our host family.
If you are planning to travel to Vietnam, I really recommend a Mekong Delta trip with home-stay to get a much closer insight into the way of life in this wonderful part of the world.