Mekong Delta @ Ben Tre

Our next stop was Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. We were expecting a little backwater village but arrived to a rather large river city. Our accommodation was situated just outside the city on a little outlet from the river. When we arrived at the bus stop the rain was pelting down and we were glad our accommodation was picking us up. Half an hour later Tim called and was told they didn’t come and pick us up because of the rain. Good to know. A short taxi ride later and we had arrived to a narrow alleyway with the river on one side and palm trees everywhere. 

The guesthouse was on a farm so the landscape was beautiful and you really felt a million miles away from the city. Unfortunately the rain kept falling solidly all afternoon and night. Luckily the guesthouse had a really nice open living area and good home cooked food.

The next day the sun was shining so we headed out on a little boat trip with Wuu our guide along with Kate and Sam an American couple staying at the guesthouse. We travelled along our little river which then joined the Mekong. We had to pass under a few bridges with pretty low coverage and our driver had to drop the shade awning to clear them but had devised a clever system where he took one bolt out of a supporting pole and they all concertinaed down.

Once we were on the Mekong we travelled a little up river and stopped at a brick factory. Surprisingly it was really very interesting even though we went on a Sunday and the 10 workers were not there to show us the process. Nevertheless we saw the massive brick kilns and the fire fuelled by rice husks which need to be manned 24 hours of the day as the bricks cook for a week. They can fit 20,000 bricks in one kiln and it takes 24 days before the bricks can be taken out of the kiln.

Back on the river we headed down a smaller outlet lined with water coconut trees that are used to stop soil erosion. The palm trees are broken by little man made streams dug to syphon off river water to water peoples crops. In the middle of the river every 20 metres was a fixed fishing net secured with palm tree trunks. Wuu was telling us how there used to be big fish in the river but now only small fish. I assume someone has told them that fishing with a net like that is probably the reason why.

Coconut products are the biggest industry in the Ben Tre area and our next stop was a coconut candy factory. Factory being a loose term for someones garage but again very interesting to see the ladies make the candy. It was pretty tasty as well. So was the bowl of tropical fruit and tea we got to sample. We were introduced to a fruit we had never tasted which was a cross between a lychee and grape. We then jumped on push bikes and rode around the tiny lanes leading back to the guesthouse. On the way we stopped off and saw ladies making reed sleeping mats. Makes sense now why our beds in Vietnam have felt as if we were sleeping on cement because the locals actually do.

We were home by lunch so decided to walk into town and get something to eat. We crossed the river and ended up in a little market area. There was a local’s fresh food covered market and all around that little shops selling everything else you could possibly need. We felt like proper tourists again as we were the only westerners and nobody spoke English. That didn’t stop us from finding some delicious cold noodles topped with the tastiest spring rolls and to finish a banana wrapped in sticky rice and grilled over coals. If you haven’t guessed we are loving the food in Vietnam. S

Our bungalow at the guesthouse/farmstay.

Motorbikes were definitely the mode of transport around here as a lot of the bridges wouldn’t support or fit cars.

Cruising down our little river on the way to join the Mekong.

One of the local’s shacks along the river.

We went under there too! 

Our trusty boast captain.

A barge transporting coconuts. Apparently the eyes on the front of the boat originated back when this area was heavily forested and there were man eating tigers and crocodiles. The eyes would apparently scare them away.

One of the brick kilns.

The rice husk fire cooking the bricks.

Inside one of the kilns. The bricks inside slowly cooling down over a period of weeks.

Back on the river.

One of the little man made streams for crop irrigation.

The pile of coconuts outside the candy factory/house. All peeled by hand.

Just cruising with some local Vietnamese ladies.

Tim and Wuu having a chat while riding along the narrow roads around town.

The Sunday street market around Ben Tre.

Fresh noodles from the covered market. The ladies were happy for me to take a photo but wouldn’t look at me for it.

The chicken and duck man.

Market life.

Ladies selling their wares along one of the main roads. The traditional conical hats make for such great photos. It’s 40 degrees yet they wear gloves and long sleeve shirts to protect themselves from the sun…… and jumpers for some reason.

We went inside a temple like building and soon found out it was a shrine to Ho Chi Minh.

Tim purchasing our delicious wrapped bananas.

My new Vietnamese rain jacket, though looking at the photo it’s certainly not the most flattering of attires.

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