Today, we drove one hour South of Saigon to the Mekong Delta, where the Mekong River flows into the sea. The Mekong River is the lifeblood of Vietnam, as the river is used as a main transport for trade, farming, transportation and fishing. The river has many tributaries, canals and small islands jetting from it’s main leg, with locals producing fresh fruit, coconut candy and fresh honey. The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and the largest river flowing through Southeast Asia.
 
We started in the city of My Tho, where a small private boat met us at the dock to take us to some of the islands located in the MeKong Delta. The islands all have names with meaning. For example, four of the islands are named after the four most important symbols for Vietnamese people including the Dragon, the Unicorn, the Turtle and the Phoenix. We stopped at two islands. The first was Unicorn Island, where the locals are known for the production of various fruit from the fruit trees, the making of honey from the Bee Farms located there, and for their orchids. We sampled the fruit and honey and listened to local musicians play authentic Vietnamese music called “Tai Tu.” The music tells stories of local life and the past. The sounds are both romantic and haunting at the same time. We took some time to walk through the beautiful orchid gardens. There were orchids of every size, shape and color represented there. Stunning!
 
We hopped back on the boat, and rode the river to the next stop – Coconut Island. The locals showed us how they make coconut candy and carvings out of the coconut shells. Then we walked for a bit through the island to pick up a horse drawn carriage to a smaller dock for a row boat ride down one of the canals lined with water coconut trees. It was impossible not to think about what life was like here before the Chinese, French and then the American occupation. What a simple, beautiful life it must have been.
 
The canal ended in the main waterway that is the Mekong River. We met our original, larger boat there and we were escorted back to the dock for a typical lunch in My Tho. In My Tho, they are known for their rice noodle soup. Tim ordered the chicken soup and I had local seafood in mine, which included shrimp and calamari. Delicious!
After lunch, our driver and guide escorted us to Can Tho, located approximately two hours northwest of My Tho. We checked into our five-star hotel, the Victoria Can Tho Resort located right on the banks of the Mekong.
The following morning, at 6:30 am, we took a tour by boat of the Cai Rang Floating Market on the Mekong River, a market characterized by boat after boat of vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. It is one of the largest floating markets on the Mekong. Vendors come from central Vietnam and around the country to bring fresh produce, fish and other products to sell to the local restaurant owners and the local markets. There are sections with boats that sell pineapple, another section that sells onions and so on. Each boat has a flag pole with the products the vendor is selling attached to it so that buyers can immediately see what the vendor is selling. It is organized chaos! There are smaller boats selling coffee, donuts, noodle soup and soda to the vendors. The boats are marked with symbols representing where in Vietnam they are from. Families come from all over Vietnam to sell their products and they live on the boat until they have sold it all. Then, they return home for another load and start the process all over again.
 
We are headed back to Saigon now via car and will be boarding our plane for Cambodia later today. We bid farewell to Vietnam. We have enjoyed the kindness that the people here have shown us and we thank them for allowing us to visit their beautiful country. What we have seen and what we have heard here will not be forgotten.