Vietnam: Wonderful Water World Cruise in the Mekong Delta – A Recap

On November 2014, during the Water Festival in Cambodia, we decided to travel to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. One of the major activities listed in our itinerary was a 2 day and 1 night cruise along the Mekong Delta since to us, a trip to Southern Vietnam would not be complete without a trip to the Mekong River. It is the 12th longest river in the world and the 3rd longest river in Asia. It runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It boasts the world’s largest inland fishery. Recently, it has been dubbed as a “biological treasure trove” as over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta.

One of the tiny canals in the Mekong Delta.

I was so excited to get a glimpse of the Vietnamese way of life and to have a chance to see with my own eyes the things I had only seen in history books and photographs. This is iconic Vietnam – flat fields of rice fields, fruit orchards, wooden houses on stilts located along the river’s edge, men and women in small boats selling their products, canals and river life.

That’s one of the boats we used as we cruised around the Mekong Delta.

Day 1: My Tho and Ben Tre Provinces

On our first day, we took a boat trip to visit the islands around My Tho and Ben Tre provinces. From the port in My Tho, we sailed to Thoi Son Island to visit the Honey Bee Farm. The staff explained the process of producing honey. We tried some honey tea, some dried fruits such as mangoes and bananas. It was very delicious. Then we went through the small market where locals were selling some clothes, fruits and some souvenir items such as key holders and bookmarks.

Here are the lovely bees. 🙂

From the Honey Bee Farm, our local guide took us to the Phoenix Island with lush tropical gardens and there we had our lunch. When I looked at the menu, some of the dishes sounded exotic to me such as rat dish, crocodile dish, etc. After lunch, we went crocodile fishing, walked around the place, took a nap and had some rest while others went bicycling. I enjoyed the atmosphere of this beautiful natural countryside.

The hungry crocodiles.

Then we continued exploring the Mekong Delta and we were led to the Ben Tre province. When we arrived there, we got on the rowing boat and paddled in along the small canals, fully covered by the shadows of the water coconut palms. Mangrove trees crowded the banks, their branches arching overhead to form a long winding tunnel that filtered out sunlight and rain. I got a close look at the magnificent setting of the Mekong Delta.

Exploring the small canals.

Small canals in Delta.

Small canals in Delta.

Then we walked through a picturesque fruit orchard to the pavillion. We sat on the shaded pavillion and tasted some tropical fruits such as banana, mango, dragon fruit, pineapple while we listened to the local musicians singing Vietnamese songs. After that, we stopped at the coconut candy workshop. Our guide explained the process of making this sweet and of course we tasted some coconut candies. Then we were taken on a horse cart ride through town. I had a glimpse of how people lived in this small town and at the same time enjoyed some fresh air.

At the coconut candy making shop.

Beautiful garden.

Day 2: Can Tho province

We woke up at around 4ish am as we needed to leave very early to be able to visit the Cai Rang floating market. I have learned that it is the largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the floating market from Can Tho and the cruise was wonderful especially when the sun just started to shine. To me, it is an impressive site as I could see a stretch of boats selling all variety of goods but mostly foodstuffs lines the river. Our guide told us tidbits of information about the water commerce in the Mekong Delta such as: the boat will hang a sample of their product off the top of a long bamboo pole so that people will know what they are selling. We also had the opportunity to interact with some of the floating merchants when they tried to sell some drinks and fruits onto our tour boat’s side. We stayed about an hour there to observe the life of the local people in the floating market.

A visit to Cai Rang floating market is definitely a Mekong Delta highlight.

Cai Rang floating market.

Cai Rang floating market, Can Tho style.

From there, we were ferried off and roamed through the village to visit the rice noodle making shop. While I watched them, I was surprised at the labour and effort that goes into making rice noodles. I was impressed the way they made rice noodles as I noticed that most of the noodles were handmade. I would say that Vietnamese are very creative and hard working.

Our guide explaining the process of the making of rice noodle.

Then we headed to the local fruit orchard. We walked around a fairly large garden growing a big variety of tropical fruits. It was well-maintained and beautiful. In fact, it was my first time to see a dragon fruit tree. We also tasted some freshly picked local fruits after we leisurely stroll around the area. After we had eaten, we went back to the boat and continued exploring some of the Mekong’s canals. And as the sun started to heat up, we slowly cruised back to Can Tho. We took a van there and travelled back to Saigon.

I have been amazed to see the blooming and fruiting cactus.

I spotted many beautiful flowers as we cruised around the Delta.

Overall, our Mekong Delta cruise was a good chance to learn the traditional rural lifestyle, culture, customs and witnessed the daily activities of the Mekong Delta inhabitants who call the Delta their home. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery even though the tour schedule was quite hectic. It was an amazing experience and we had such a great time.

Have you tried cruising around the Mekong River? What do you like best about the cruise?

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A Perfect Lazy Afternoon at Suon Soben Resort

We spent one perfect lazy afternoon at Suon Soben Resort during the Pchum Ben Holiday last September 2014. It is one of the weekend getaway sites located in Prek Eng Commune, Kien Svay District, Kandal Province, about 22 km from Phnom Penh City.

It is a beautiful place of green gardens with a nice, relaxing and tranquil atmosphere. The place is ideal for families and groups of friends or colleagues who wish to enjoy taking photographs, eating delicious food, savoring the luxury of fresh air and spending time together. It is a good place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The resort provides thatched-roofed floating picnic cottages built around the big pond and surrounded with bamboo and coconut trees. It is very quiet and relaxing. We sat, took a nap, ate snacks, read a book, had a beer, did some fishing and relaxing close to the water.

There is also a small zoo there, they have peacocks, ostriches, crocodiles, monkeys, birds, chickens, pelican, geese, and many more.

The Pelican was looking very interested in the fish that were being caught.

The Pelican was looking very interested in the fish that were being caught.

Did you know that Ostrich can run up to 70 km per hour?

I love the beautiful and colorful plumage of peacock. :-)

I love the beautiful and colorful plumage of peacock. 🙂

This little monkey knows how to pose.

This little monkey knows how to pose.

Fun and vibrant parrots.

Fun and vibrant parrots.

Enormous crocodiles with sensitive faces.

Enormous crocodiles with sensitive faces.

I don't really exactly know what species this is. I'm pretty sure it's a type of lizard. It looks like a Komodo Dragon though. How about an iguana?

I don’t really exactly know what type of lizard this is. It looks like a Komodo Dragon, though.

Cute and loving rabbits. :-)

Cute and loving rabbits. 🙂

Three little guinea pigs.

Three little guinea pigs.

These geese were leisurely wandering around.

These geese were leisurely wandering around.

It has a good Khmer restaurant that serves all kinds of Cambodian dishes. The staff is friendly but at the time there was only one staff who could speak English.

The resort has a swimming pool for adults and children who wish to get a good swim. It looked clean. We didn’t really know that they had a swimming pool until we had gone there as the information about this resort on the Internet doesn’t say much. Shame we could have had a good splash.

All in all, we had a good time there!

Have you been to Suon Soben Resort? What’s your experience?

Little Lilly Travel Tip:

  1. If you wish to visit Suon Soben Resort, go there by car or by taxi as the road is very dusty.
  2. Take Road No. 1. It is past the Green Resort. When you reach the gas station, turn right (Tiger Road, as it leads to the Tiger Beer Company). Keep going for about 3 km then you’ll see the resort.

Taste of Home: Crispy Chicken and Apple Salad

I was craving for a salad dish. When I checked my fridge I found apples and chicken, so I decided to make chicken and apple salad.

crispy chicken and apple salad 🙂

In this recipe, there are only three secrets that make this gorgeous salad a star. First, you should have three dipping mixtures: flour, egg, breadcrumbs. Second you should cut the meat to an even thickness so that it cooks consistently throughout. Third is the magic of the salad dressing.

To me, there is nothing like a platter full of juicy, crispy and crunchy chicken and apple salad filled with tangy, creamy dressings.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 500 grams breast chicken
  • Lettuce, dry
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 green apples, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 1 egg
  • Bread crumbs
  • Low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • Flour
  • Olive oil
  • White pepper
  • Salt

Method: 

  1. Prepare three dipping mixtures. Put three plates on the table:
    1. Put flour on the first plate and seasoned it with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
    2. Crack the egg on the second plate. Add water. Whisk thoroughly.
    3. On the third plate, put the breadcrumbs and mix it with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  1. Wash the chicken breasts. Use paper towels to dry it thoroughly. Toss the chicken in the flour and shake it off to remove the excess flour. Then, dip it into the egg mixture and lastly dip it in the breadcrumbs.
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put the chicken and cook it for five minutes until golden brown. Then flip the chicken and continue cooking the other side for another five minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, drain it using paper towels. Let it cool for a few minutes before you slice it into strips.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a small mixing bowl, put low fat buttermilk. Add mayonnaise, white vinegar and parsley. Add some salt and white pepper according to your desired taste. Whisk until well combined.
  4. On a platter, lay the lettuce. Scatter the apples on top. Then, lay the chicken and drizzle with dressing.
  5. Serve and enjoy eating.

Taste of Home: Special Egg Roll

Today, I prepared a special egg roll for breakfast. This is a variation on the omelet theme, which is a very popular dish in many parts of Asia especially in the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc. It is an incredibly simple and easy recipe for breakfast, side dish, appetizer or even snack.

special egg roll 🙂

Are you an omelet eater? If so, what’s your favorite way of preparing it?

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 3 medium size eggs
  • 1 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp carrot, finely chopped
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

Prepare egg mixture.

  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl. Remove chalaza from the egg using a fine sieve for finer texture of dish as chalaza is known to contain cholesterol.
  2. Add milk, salt and white pepper. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Add spring onions, carrots and tomatoes into the egg mixture. Stir thoroughly.

Prepare egg roll.

  1. Brush with some olive oil into a frying pan.
  2. Scoop ¼ of the mixture into the frying pan. Gently swirl the pan until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.
  3. Roll the egg from one side to the other.
  4. Brush the other side of the pan with some olive oil. Pour another quarter of the mixture into the pan. Then gently swirl and rock the pan until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.
  5. Repeat the same process until you finish all the mixture.
  6. Once the egg roll is fully cooked, it’s ready to serve.

Of course you can serve it whole, but you can also slice it before serving. Enjoy eating!