Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mekong Delta Exploring

By Klassens
We have decided that it's time to give our feet a rest and put our butt's to the test.

Instead of navigating the maze of the Mekong Delta river ways on our own we decided to do it on bikes via a small tour group.  We picked a biking Mekong tour and were led by An, a sincere gentle soul who was very purposeful in leading us onward. Or perhaps his purposefulness came from trying to help us keep up with a very fun and very fit young couple from Germany? I'm not sure.

Biking Mekong Delta 1
Before we could start biking, we needed to get away from the main cities, so onto a boat we went, passing small floating shacks with cat fish farms underneath.
The tour combined stops and information along the way to give us a better sense of how the locals live, and primarily do life on this vital body of water. One such stop was at a family farm where they had a large variety of fruit trees and vegetables which is more lucrative than growing rice.  We toured their home and kitchen and got a better idea of why they layout their homes the way they do, religiously and culturally.  Their homemade banana rice wine was pretty good for home made hooch and we sampled local fruits and homemade sweet rice cakes. One of our nights was spent in a very rustic guest house on the water.  Fairly open air rooms are set up on stilts along the water's edge.

Biking Mekong Delta 2
A local house
Biking Mekong Delta 3
Gorgeous sunset as we cruise to our evening stop.
Biking Mekong Delta 4
Stopped  at a pottery factory for export. All handmade, and this kiln will run 24/7 for 20 days being stoked and fed constantly with rice husks for fuel. 
One of the things I enjoyed most was just knowing that this was the same body of water we were on while traveling from Northern Thailand through Laos to Luang Prabang, and in only another 150km or so, this water would empty into the South China Sea.

Actually, whining was not high on my list, as I loved the biking Mekong Delta trip.  Brad gets a rush weaving in and out of busy traffic, but I so enjoyed biking under a canopy of tropical greens of palm, bamboo, and so many varieties of which I don't know the name of.  Simply gorgeous and when you passed a rice field, you literally felt a cool fresh breeze wash over you as you pass by! 

Biking Mekong Delta 5
In the outlying farms, family bury their dead on the land And bring regular sacrifice to help them in their next life.
Biking Mekong Delta 6
Stopped at a Khmer temple and this new young monk (15 years old) will spend a year here in training.  Temple combines Hindu and Buddhist artifacts. He was very chatty with us and Anna, and amazed at how tall she was, especially compared to him.
Biking Mekong Delta 7
Little school girls going home for lunch.
Again so many of the locals and children call out hello and laugh.  Why they laugh, I still don't know. Laugh because we are biking in the heat? Laugh because they just don't see many of us foreigners on the back roads? Laugh, because they are secretly making fun of us?  Not sure, but many hellos were exchanged with only a minor crash as children came out for a high five and when I tried to oblige, more came, along with a bike of two old ladies.  A minor crash with the elderly grandmas resulted in minor injuries, embarrassment (on my part) and one severe tongue lashing to the kids.....  So wish I could have understood it, but I couldn't and just sheepishly biked away to join the others.
Small bamboo bridges to homes across the river.  They are called monkey bridges.
Biking Mekong Delta 8
A rice field
Biking Mekong Delta 9
Loved the many bridges and paths  weaving along the river
Biking Mekong Delta 10
What looks similar to our canoes, but called arroyos, we navigated through narrow waterways with spectacular foliage.
It's 3:00 in the afternoon. Temperature 30, feels like 38... Humidity 80%.
Last haul was up a massive bridge.  Never ending steady up.  Brad is cheering me on, I am down to my lowest gear.... I made it without getting off.
Damn proud of myself, though I might have had a minor breakdown after.... Can't remember! Blocked it out so I would choose to go back out again the next day!

Biking Mekong Delta 12


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