The Land of Coconuts: Vietnam’s Mekong Delta
As soon as we had the chance– we jumped on it, it was time for a weekend getaway! After the craziness of job hunting, apartment hunting, and shopping for motorbikes we wanted a weekend away from the chaos of motorbikes and Saigon. Rhys was itching for a motorbike trip on his ass-kicking, old school, 1988 Honda Win. We heard so much buzz about the beauty in the Mekong Delta area and decided to take a road trip South to see it for ourselves.
Our destination, Ben Tre, is 3.5 hours away from Saigon on motorbike. After 3 roadside stops at random mechanic shops for dripping oil, funny noises, and things breaking off the bike… we were finally there. The drive down was chaotic, fun, dirty, brezzey, and HOT. No sunscreen = we were burnt to a crisp. The Vietnamese sun doesn’t play games. No time for tanning, it only burns. As we got closer to Ben Tre the road finally opened up, the buildings became fewer, and palm tree farms were everywhere. It was great to get out of a city as dirty and intense as Saigon & remember what fresh air is like!
Ben Tre is notorious for being the “Land of Coconuts”. Coconuts are EVERYWHERE and the people of Ben Tre depend on the coconut for EVERYTHING. We spent the day on a Mekong boat tour, and to my surprise….. learned all about coconuts. It’s used for fuel, candy, liquor, roofing, bags/purses, carved into cheesy looking souvenirs, brooms, brushes, treating insect bites… you name it and they’ve turned the coconut into a use for it.
The half boat, half canoe tour was just what we needed. Peace, quiet, & fresh air. At one point we were cruising through small canals, surrounded by palm trees, making are way around the twisting waters. Our guide passed out Vietnam’s standard rice field hats and we were transformed into locals. Faces hidden under the hat’s dark shadow, cruising around the Mekong’s narrowing canals [minus our giggles and new photo shoot!]
Before we knew it our boat was pulling up to the docks and our weekend escape was over. The long drive back to hectic Saigon was all that was left for us to do. Our trip to Ben Tre, was the tip of the iceberg as far as trips into the Delta our considered. More popular Mekong stops for travelers are to Can Tho and Vinh Long where Vietnam’s famous floating markets are held. But there is only so much we could do in a weekend with a 13 year old motorbike! Thankfully, we have the gift of time. We aren’t on a whirlwind backpacking tour, we have over a year to explore all the nooks & crannies and see what Vietnam has to offer!
For anyone stationed in Ho Chi Minh City looking for a quick, enjoyable, and easy weekend trip, Ben Tre could be your answer. It was an easy motorbike ride [plus the motorbike made the trip more into an adventure vs.wasting time on a bus!], we managed to find our way with one very crap map, and only a few stops asking “Which way?” in very broken Vietnamese with lots of charades involved!
I can’t wait for our next weekend escape down South to the Land of Coconuts!