Winter Term 2013: Singapore/Vietnam – January 13, 2013

A day in the Mekong Delta

Today our MBA and law group escaped the hustle and bustle of Saigon and made our way through the countryside of Vietnam to the Mekong Delta. Quickly upon exiting the city, we realized we were not in Kansas anymore as the hotels, restaurants and shops were replaced by rice paddies and rural towns.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our tour guide for the day, Mr. “Happy,” and began our journey down the Mekong River, known locally as the River of Nine Dragons. Along the river, we had the pleasure of stopping to learn how bricks were made, try coconut candy and coconut wine, also known as “happy water,” play with a six foot long python, learn about local fishing and lifestyles, watch sleeping mats be woven, and for some, being introduced to a new kind of “happy room” (restroom).  Obviously the trend here is that everything is happy – can’t beat that!

The afternoon continued with a deluxe lunch of elephant ear, a kind of fish, and about eight other dishes. This appears to be customary, as though they are in fear that we may waste away to nothing without generous helpings of soup, spring rolls, shrimp, chicken, beef, fish, tofu, rice, etc. (Not that anyone’s complaining!) From there the trek continued on small boats able to hold only about four people each to wind our way through the narrow canals of the Mekong River. This leg of the trip would not have been complete without a couple of old camp songs and a hearty round of “99 Bottles of Bababa on the Wall”. Bababa, 333, is a local beer.

With that our trip to the Mekong Delta concluded, but it is safe to say it left a lasting impression. Seeing the more remote areas of a third world country always reminds you of what you have to be thankful for, no matter how lovely your visit there was.

To round out the day, we returned to Saigon and everyone went their separate ways. For some this meant exploring the night market, one of the biggest counterfeit markets in the world while for others it meant a motorbike food tour around town or an endless quest in search of a karaoke bar that instead ended at the Emergency Room.  (No worries, it is just a bar.)

As we say farewell to another day in Vietnam, we look forward to tomorrow and the new experiences and learnings it will bring.

Written by: Julia Williams

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