The driver was at the hotel lobby to pick us up for the speedboat Mekong River tour. It seemed interesting to find out more about the river which spans across 3 countries and supply fresh water to thousands of communities.
The Jetty & Speedboat
We were ushered to the speedboat with a family of 3 and another gentlemen from the same hotel. The english speaking female guide introduced herself and the captain, not long later, we hear the rumbling of the throttle and off we went!
City View of Ho Chi Minh City
The speedboat is an hour ride away to the places which we are visiting at the Mekong River. It is a smoother and faster route as compared to the 2-3hrs coach ride. The tour started at 9am and will end approx 4pm.
Not before long, we could smell the stench of sewage whilst travelling along the river. This was explained by the guide that the river is long used by the local businesses and families living in makeshift riverside houses for rubbish dumping.
As we rode away from the city, the river bank disappears into rows of steel bars and makeshift zinc housing. During this stretch of the river, we could see the increased garbage and floating objects which tangled the boat's propeller. This was met with a sigh by the guide who exclaim its a daily sight.
Makeshift Zinc Housing
Not before long, we spotted friendly local boatman who smiled and waved at us.
We arrived at our first stop which is a local temple.
The temple has a statue at the front which has strong resemblance to our Goddess of Mercy. According to the guide, Vietnam share many influences from China since the Song Dynasty which was hundreds of years ago.
Statue @ Temple
After saying some prayers and visiting the inner areas of the temple. We walked back to the boat and met some enthusiastic local laborers.
Onward we rode towards the next area of attraction, the local market!
Local Boat Docked At The Front Of Market
We were told that the local market is also home to a river transfer where locals take a scheduled ferry to cross the mekong river. This explains why I see people and motorcyclists waiting for something at the pier.
Queue @ Pier @ Local Market
Fruits Stall @ Local Market
Local Purchasing Groceries From A Stall
I was surprised to see that the market also sell live poultry. I wondered how do they treat the live poultry and was told they are slaughtered on the spot upon ordering. Don't think its something I can stomach seeing.
We returned to the boat and rode deeper into the Mekong River
We then reached a local pottery factory where the owner makes huge pots by hand using concrete and a iron cast.
Local Pottery Factory
We then took a slow stroll past a plantation, crossed a bridge before reaching another local's home.
Shortly after, we arrived at the local house. The guide brought us to see some pythons and brought out a baby and an adult python.
Tour Guide & Baby Python
Me & Adult Python
It was a thrilling experience carrying the adult python over my body. No need to be scared as Im also a snake (born in the chinese zodiac year of the snake). We were allowed to visit their homes. The house interior seemed like it never changed over the years and everything looked so 1980s.
Local House Interior
We left the place shortly for a short boat ride to a nearby coconut plantation.
Sweet Coconut Drink
The juice of the young coconut was very sweet. We were told that the coconuts are harvested for the city's consumption and some of them were for exports to neighbouring countries. We were treated to some shots of honey liquor by the plantation owner.
Jackfruit & Plantation Owner
We were brought to a town to have a local lunch at the town's orphanage. We visited the temple at the town which was unique. It is an amalgamation of religion with all main gods in that temple. We got to see worshippers worshipping the Eye who oversees the other gods such as Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, Prophet Mohamed, Jade Emperor and many more. It is something special but did raise some eyebrows with the English travelling party.
After the temple, we got ready for the 1 hour boat ride back to the city.
Low-lying Power Lines @ Mekong River
During the journey back, we met with a heart stopping moment when the power cables of the towers lie precariously low and the ship captain had to steer the boat to near the banks. The power lines grazed through the top of the boat but as the lines were insulated, we were not electrocuted. Scary moment indeed.
More Makeshift Houses
View From Front of Boat
I had a great time on the Mekong River tour. It left me with sadness that the beautiful river which serves the needs of the community is being left with discarded refuse and not being cleaned by the authorities. Vietnam is a beautiful country and like other many Asian countries, the environment is often being abused and not taken care of. I would love to return to a cleaner and refuse-free Mekong River and hopefully can be done within my lifetime.
The tour is arranged by the Intercontinental Asiana Saigon's Front Desk.
For more pictures of my Ho Chi Minh trip, feel free to see my gallery here.