After anchoring at the Cambodia-Vietnam border for the night, we clear immigration and customs in the morning, and after breakfast, we resume our journey south along the Mekong River towards Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Sai Gon. Over the border, after lunch, we stopped on the river near the town on Chau Doc where we took sampans to visit a local family’s farm located on a sandbar that is only exposed during the dry season. The annual flooding insures fertile ground for growing a range of crops, but their houses are raised to survive the rising waters of the monsoon season. We then traveled the waterways of the Venice-like adjacent town in our sampan, and examined another local family’s floating fish farm. This bustling city has its river-throughways lined with boats and floating markets who indicate their commercial wares by tying an example produce to the top of a pole on their boat. We continue our village tour by going ashore and catching cyclo-taxis that take us to explore an unusual Caodaism church with its spectacular colors and imposing “left eye of God” staring from behind the altar.
Finally, we journey to watch a family making traditional reed mats using a hand loom before re-boarding our sampan ferries.
That afternoon, we returned to the Mekong Navigator and resumed our journey downstream. After dinner, the boat showed the French movie “The Lover”, an acclaimed movie about a young French girl in Vietnam, who at 14 years of age, fell in love with a local wealthy Chinese man and began a torrid affair, until her mother took her back to France. The movie was based upon a book that was a biographical account of Marguerite Duras, and whose actual location we would visit tomorrow.
The following morning, we were met with sampans for our morning excursion to Sa Dec. The sampans dropped us ashore where we walked to the former home of Huyn Thuy Le, the lover of author Marguerite Duras. The house displays the symbols of wealth with inlayed mother-of-pearl decorations and ornate carvings and paintings. We continue our walk through the village’s local market – a plethora of fish, meat, vegetables and fruit being sold along the bustling market street with deliveries coming and going and crowds of local purchasing their daily foodstuffs.
At the end of the market, our sampan takes us along the delta’s many tributaries to a brick factory where hand-cut slabs of clay are cut from the earth and delivered to be mixed with rice husks, extruded through a form, dried in the sun and then fired in a huge kiln heated with waste rice husks.
We then return to the Mekong Navigator for lunch, before again catching sampan for our afternoon tour of the town of Cai Be where we pass another floating market, visit a wealthy man’s Bed & Breakfast home and gardens, and finally stop at a Coconut Candy-making Workshop that demonstrates making coconut candy, the creation of rice paper, and the popping of rice over fire using hot, black sand, coating of the rice with a coconut caramel, and the forming of it into candy rice cakes for sale at the market. After some brief souvenir shopping, we return to our sampans and to our ship for our last night aboard.
The RV Mekong Navigator then continues its trip downstream arriving at the town of My Tho in the morning. After breakfast, we depart the ship to board buses for the 1 hour trip to our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon). The crew and staff aboard the ship have been excellent, and we will very much miss them.