Posted by Amanda
Our last SAS trip was to the Mekong Delta. I was bus leading for this one and parents were along for the ride as the parent trip through SAS has been with us for all of Vietnam. They hit Thailand before we arrived in Vietnam. There were three buses for 84 people. By the last day in port with an early morning trip, you can pretty much count on a number of people to bail out either because they are hung over, still drunk, or just want to get in more shopping. (Wait, does that sound bad? Honestly, I did hear one student say she was still drunk this morning at breakfast.) Even with some last minute ticket sales we only had 72. My large bus had only 15 in it.
The two hour ride to the Mekong Delta was broken up with a stop at a Buddhist temple. It was really a bathroom break, but the temple was nice. It looked much different from other Buddhist temples I've seen. It had some different colors and not quite as much incense.
At the Delta we got onto boats that took us to a smaller tributary. We went by a weird looking shrine that I believe our guide said was built by a wacko. They called him the coconut man. He lived on an island in the river, grew coconuts, and ran for president. His shrine included a rocket ship so he could be part of the space race.
The smaller boats took 7 people at a time down the river a bit more. We then stopped at a candy place where they made some coconut candies. We tasted them and were of course encouraged to buy some. Back in the boats to head to a place for lunch.
Lunch was a big seafood affair. They brought out large fish and made spring rolls for us. It was actually pretty good though a tablemate seemed to get all bones. We had a number of other dishes that were quite good though nothing else with fish.
We finished lunch and got on even smaller boats--4 in each--to go to a place to try some fruit. Along the way we saw a number of people rowing in the river. Many people had sweet hammocks set up on their little boats or along the river in their homes. Some houses were thatched shacks while others were large brightly colored places.
They offered us some very nice tea with sweet honey and lime. We enjoyed dragon fruit, jack fruit, pineapple, arhat(?), and mango. I like the dragon fruit, mango, and pineapple, but I think I'll skip the rest in the future.
At some point we went in horse carts where we were all offered the pointy straw hats. On our last boat ride, we were offered coconut water. Coconut water seemed so novel back in Brazil. Now we see that basically every warm country offers it.
Overall, I did not think this was a good day trip. Because we'd seen such rural settings in the Ma Chau village, it didn't seem that rural. And, so much of it seemed to be just for tourists. Each element seemed to be added because they thought it would fit into some preconceived notion a tourist had of Vietnam. I would not recommend this to anyone who has time to visit Ma Chau. I guess if we'd stayed for an overnight trip it would have been better and perhaps we'd have seen something more authentic.
We took the bus back to the ship. Noah ran back into town to get his suit. It looks very nice. I stayed on board to check in for gangway duty. It was a very busy gangway since people bought so much. They always check your bags when you come aboard. Sadly, Noah did not make it by the 9pm deadline so will likely have docktime. The frustrating part is that he was on the SAS sponsored shuttle from town and he was in the back. The people who got off the bus first made it on time while those in the back did not.
We watched a bootleg Juno and are heading to bed. We actually leave Vietnam tomorrow at 6am because we have to wait for the tides to be right on the river before we sail down it. All things considered, I really liked Vietnam, probably more than Malaysia though Malaysia has much better food. I'd love to spend more time in Hanoi and really see the Mekong Delta. I think the mosquitos would like for me to come back soon too.