Tonight will be our last one on board our Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise. This post is the ninth in our series about AmaWaterways Riches of the Mekong cruise. To catch up, you can start with our first post Hanoi: orderly Chaos or read our previous post Mekong Delta.
Our morning excursion takes us to the town of Sa Dec in southern Vietnam. We’re now about 120 miles downstream of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and about 85 miles from where the Mekong meets the Ocean. We’ll dock about 50 miles downstream from Sa Dec to board a bus to Ho Chi Min city tomorrow. We also learn that no one in Vietnam calls the river the Mekong; rather it’s known as the river of nine dragons.
So our Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise will be coming to an end shortly. But today we are able to learn a few more things about Vietnam. In the thriving town of Sa Dec, we walk through the very large market – which includes loads of vegetables, fruits and fish. It was really busy in the morning mostly women buying the daily food needs and returning home via the ever present motor scooters.
This market was more well organized than most of the other markets we’ve seen on the trip. Many residents have no refrigerator and so they need to come to market everyday. Yet this was the first market where we’ve actually seen ice used (by a vendor selling live shrimp). Still the majority of the food (eggs, fish, even vegetables) sit in the heat all morning. Everything is very fresh, having arrived that very day – at 9 AM there’s no sign of wilting green leaves or smelly fish. I guess it works because there’s so much volume.
Next we view what’s called the “Lover’s House” which was occupied by a French writer (Duras) around 1930 and was later made into a movie. It was an interesting design with lots of interior woodwork and tile work and mother of pearl inlaid tables.
Best laid plans
Originally we were going to continue to the Xeo Quyt forest to walk in the footsteps of the Viet Cong. There’s underground bunkers and trapdoors. This Viet Cong command post was only 2 miles from an American military base – but was unknown by the Americans. But we decided not to go as we were having a little stomach issue and the hour bus ride (each way) didn’t sound like a smart thing to attempt.
Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise
This is a very busy day on our Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise. Because the Xeo Quyt excursion gets back late, lunch won’t start till 1 pm. And there’s an afternoon excursion that starts at 2:45. Relative to most other days, on this river cruise, it feels rushed.
Cai Be on the Mekong delta
Our afternoon excursion, we take a short boat ride to a workshop in the morning. Here they make popped rice, rice cakes (lots of flavors), rice paper (wrappers for spring rolls) and rice candy. Each was demonstrated and everything is done by hand. They also make coconut products using every part of the plant: coconut shell to keep tea warm, coconut water to drink and bathe, coconut flesh to eat, coconut husks to fuel the fires (cooking).
Next we visited the Kiet historical house located a short boat ride away. While historically a country estate, a portion of the grounds are preserved both as a residence and a place for lunch. The house is 150 years old and nicely preserved. Extensive gardens surround the house providing fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s even a miniature canal system to control water levels within the gardens.
One last time
Back on board we get ready to finish our Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise. We’re treated to a traditional folklore performance from the Mekong delta which is followed by a farewell cocktail and disembarkation instructions. We have a spectacular dinner at the Chef’s table in the back of the ship. So one last evening on AmaWaterways AmaDara!
We will arrive in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow via bus.