The first adventure we went on once we arrived in Vietnam was heading out to the Mekong River to explore the islands, observe local culture and taste traditional Vietnamese cuisine!
We booked a tour through our hotel, and for 30 USD (this is used as a secondary currency in Vietnam) we had an itinerary from 7.30am-5.30pm. The Mekong River and where we were headed is about 1hr45 from central Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as it was previously known.
So we jumped on our bus and on to the most hectic roads I’ve ever seen! Driving in Ho Chi Minh City and crossing the street is definitely an experience I’ll never forget!
Unlike the U.K., where road rules + regulations are taken extremely seriously, the city’s roads are more like an ‘every man for himself’ situation. Mopeds drive along in their masses, swerving in and out of the cars, horns beep at each other every few seconds and the only way to cross the road is quite literally, step out, keep walking, hope for the best and the mopeds know to just move around you! That’s an experience in itself!
So after surviving the drive, we got to the river and took a small boat out to the first island & the honeybee farm, where the locals live off making honey and selling it to the mainland in various forms, including honey to eat, honey tea & Royal Jelly (honey based moisturiser).
The bees are kept in plaques, with one plaque holding around 2000 bees and unbelievably, if you push your finger into middle of the plaque (as alarms bells ring that you’re about to be stung) they simply move around you and you can taste the honey from its natural source!
We we then were served honey + nut based sweets (absolutely amazing – tasted like crunchy nut) fried banana skins and the infamous honey tea, which reminded me of herbal tea mixed with a sweet alcoholic shot!
There are only around 2000 inhabitants on the islands, who make most of their income for, the tourism and their crafts, which included making ornaments & furniture from the wood of coconut trees (which are extremely plentiful in Vietnam!)
One of the other things I love about South East Asia is the fruit – I don’t think you would ever find better mango, pineapple, dragonfruit and melon! And after enjoying that with the locals, we then headed out in traditional Vietnamese canoes (not quite sure of their actual name) down the winding canals that run through the island. These are all about balance and if the four of you don’t sit in the middle, you’re likely to capsize!
They took us straight to a pre-prepared lunch, underneath a canopy (thank god, as the heavens opened yet again with torrential downpour) where we had traditional lunch of pork spring rolls, green bean and onion salad, steamed rice, ginger spiced chicken, onion and carrot soup and.. Elephant Air Fish.
Yes Mum and Dad, that is right, your fussy daughter and the least adventurous food-eater ever did really like and eat that very scary looking fish right there.
After lumch, I had to do something I really hadn’t prepared myself for in Asia – buy a rain mac. So I splurged 10p on a very flattering poncho and jumped back on the boat to the final island stop + the coconut sweet factory. I’d never really know other uses for coconut, other than drinking the water inside, but the Vietnamese make them into chewy toffee sweets, boiled sweets, pancakes, chocolate, teas, coffee syrups.. you name it really!
Later on in the evening, once we’d survived another bus journey back to the hotel, showered the heavy rain off and went to backpacker central for dinner at Vietnamese Aroma, with a huge group of so many nationalities that I lost track, with my dinner and cocktails costing £4.70! (If you’re on a budget, Vietnam is the place to be!)
Thank you for reading!