Apparently Tintin never actually went to Vietnam but I’m sure if he had, he would have enjoyed Viator‘s Mekong Delta Adventure Tour. Parts of this tour were a little well – goofy. But even the ‘too cool to be on vacation with her parents’ teenager got into it. There’s something about being loaded on the back of a motorcycle crossed with a people mover and trundling down a path, ducking palm fronds and waving to little kids that was just plain fun.
On Your Bikes
I’d nickname this tour the ‘modes of transport’ tour. We traveled on boats, bikes, vans and our own two feet. My favorite was the motorcycles. Our group had two: one for six of us and the other for the couple our guide referred to collectively as “honeymoon” for obvious reasons.
The bikes were an excellent vantage point for seeing village life in the Mekong Delta. We saw kids flying kites, mothers watching babies, people harvesting coconuts, making coconut candy and fishing. This didn’t feel like a tourist spot; it felt like a regular community.
Go Boat Go
This tour also included two kinds of boats. First we were on a motorized boat on the larger river. Later we split up into rowboats – we didn’t have to row but we could if we wanted to. In case you weren’t feeling goofy enough, the rowboats came complete with the ubiquitous conical straw hats. Very practical actually as the sun was beating down.
I once did a tour of a factory where I had to wear white rubber boots and a shower cap. This factory is not like that. It feels more like somebody’s patio than a factory. In a tranquil spot next to the river, you learn how to shave coconut, cook it with sugar, wrap it in rice paper and pack it to sell. Of course you get to taste it as well. You can also taste some strange fruit wines. With any luck that will have put the teenager off alcohol until she is thirty.
At this stop, we pooled our tipping resources and each of us was given a tipping responsibility. Mine was “fruit”. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant but I figured all would be revealed.
Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
At one stage we got off our bikes and walked for a while along a dirt road next to the small canals that line the village. Our guide taught us about growing rice and coconuts. We didn’t walk far but it was far enough for me in that sticky heat. I was glad to get back on the bikes.
Everywhere we went in Vietnam people called out “hello”. This was particularly true when we had our guide for this tour. We giggled about our tour guide’s ‘fan club’. The women of the Mekong Delta came out to greet him (and us).
You are not going to starve on this tour
I enjoyed our morning break from the comfort of a hammock in a shady spot of the jungle. Dragon fruit was a new taste for me; it reminded me of a kiwi fruit just not as strong. The bright pink color of the skin and the black and white confetti on the inside just doesn’t look real. The fruit was enhanced (well I thought so) by some interesting powdered dip that tasted like sugar and chili.
Drifting away in my hammock, I suddenly realize my tour companions are saying “Fruit! Who is responsible for fruit?” Fruit? Fruit? Oh yes, wake up, that’s me. I guess the fruit should have been a clue. Never mind, I managed to produce the tip money from my pocket and off we set.
Lunch was surprisingly gourmet for a meal served in the jungle. The family I shared the table with had two members allergic to seafood. Fortunately for them they were provided with other options. Fortunately for me I got double seafood.
Taking Things at a Slower Place
If you look closely at the pedestrian signs, it looks like the stick figures are running for their lives. No doubt designed by people who have actually watched people trying to cross the road in Ho Chi Minh.
Fortunately the traffic is much slower in the Mekong Delta. Everybody on our tour just relaxed and had fun. I really appreciated the opportunity to get out of the city and see people going about their lives in this charming, leafy village.
Tintin missed the boat on this one.
- Melinda Harrington