Day 6: Mekong Delta Homestay
Today, we awoke in Hanoi for the last time. We packed our bags and headed for the airport to say goodbye to our tour guide Alex, who has offered wonderful insight into the history and culture of Vietnam, and to start our flight to the Mekong River delta.
When we arrived in the Mekong in the late afternoon, we were greeted by our tour guide, Mr. Hau. After gathering our luggage we boarded a bus and Mr. Hau welcomed us as he began to tell us about the culture and life in the Mekong Delta, which is also known as the Nine Dragons River delta. The differences between Hanoi and the Mekong were glaringly obvious. Going from the bustling streets of Hanoi to the rural, vegetated South was like stepping into a different world. Whereas in Hanoi there was the never-ending clamor of busy people and motorbikes, as we traveled to the Mekong River, we were able to see that rural areas offer a much more relaxed and open life. Unlike the cold and grey weather in Hanoi, the Mekong was humid and hot. While Hanoi was urban and busy, there is more forest here, and the land is more open, with people playing and flying kites out in the streets. As we drove through the town we were able to see that, unlike Hanoi, the South appears more tropical, with a warm climate and fertile land.
When we arrived at the Mekong River, a boat awaited us to take us to our homestay. The boat ride took us away from an urban setting and into a secluded area where we were suddenly immersed in nature. Once we arrived at the homestay, we were welcomed by the family who operate the bed and breakfast.
Later on, we sat down to an amazing dinner that included pork placed inside snail shells. This was in some senses a welcome feast. After the feast we were given free time to explore the property, which is surrounded by rambutan and longan trees. Being in such an amazing environment, it is a goal among the members of our group to embrace the culture of those living in the Mekong Delta and to dive into nature, leaving city life behind for a few days.
Day 6 Photo and Video Highlights
Today a few students and chaperones began the day with an enjoyable morning run to an interesting historical landmark. We ran around the lake where John McCain was shot down during a bombing raid in 1967 and quickly captured, living as a POW at the Hanoi Hilton until the end of the war. On the shore of the lake, next to a busy street, a memorial commemorates this event. After returning to the hotel and packing, we said goodbye to Mr. Alex and got on the plane for the Mekong Delta.
Today we arrived during the late afternoon in the Mekong Delta, where we disembarked after our short plane ride from Hanoi into the heat of the South. Once on the bus, we were introduced to new scenery and a beautiful sunset.
Riding on the bus is an interesting experience because it allows us to view large amounts of scenery quickly and is an interesting way to be introduced to a new area. Here we can see the scenery of the many rivers we passed.
After disembarking from the bus, we gathered our luggage on the sidewalk as the cooling afternoon breeze set in. All covered with DEET, we were prepared for our boat ride to our home stay.
After a short boat ride up the river, with the soothing putts of the Diesel engine setting the audio track for this area, we arrived at our new homestay. To say the least, we were all shocked at how the place looked! We were told it would be "rustic," and seeing a home as beautiful and peaceful as this was an amazing sight.
Although we were all impressed with our accommodations, the mosquito nets over our beds was a very foreign concept for many of us. We learned how to effectively cover ourselves with the mosquito net and also enjoyed a filling dinner.
Our guide for this portion of the trip, Mr. Hau, is very enthusiastic and positive, and we are excited to spend the next couple of days with him. After a lovely dinner accompanied by the lulling sounds of crickets and geckos, he entertained us with charming guitar numbers he used to sing back when he was in the army.
--Lucas and Nick
See videos from their amazing adventure here.