Our first stop of 2013 was a CaoDai Temple on the way from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta. CaoDai is a religion specific to Vietnam – it’s a bit of a mish-mash in that they have statues of Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed in the temple, and they are all worshipped equally from what I could gather. Their patron saints include Joan of Arc and Shakespeare. There is a bit more info here if you are interested.
Floating down the Mekong River we passed many fishing boats and huts en-route to our first destination, the brick factory. One thing that consistently impressed me about Vietnam is the ingenuity of her people – nothing goes to waste, everything is recycled. It’s an environmentalist’s dream. There is simply too much poverty to waste any available resources. This recycling ingenuity was on display again at the brick factory. The kilns are heated using husks of rice that would usually go to waste. Next up was the coconut ‘processing facility’. There’s no need for cross fit or cleaning eating here – de-hulling thousands of coconuts by hand each day by repeatedly slamming them into a spike has the added benefit of a ripped physique. The coconuts are processed for their flesh, their juice, and naturally anything that is not consumed (some of this was made into coconut candy – YUM!) was recycled, including as building supplies.
Back on land a short (and somewhat crazy) tuk-tuk ride followed by a walk took us to our lunch destination, a small village seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Elephant ear fish in rice paper rolls and pork and pumpkin soup were on the menu.
The first of January is a public holiday in Vietnam, so each shopfront and home flies the Vietnamese flag, lining the streets in red and yellow.
For dinner we followed our tour leader’s recommendation and dined at Quan An Ngon, ngon meaning delicious or yummy. They do street style food in a safe restaurant environment.
So many colours and different things to waste money on, it is really difficult to refrain. There is also food, which is cheap and very tasty. This is where I had my first Vietnamese ice coffee and boy do I love them!