The food-induced coma from last night gave me the best sleep I’ve had in a while. We woke fairly early to the calls of roosters and the sound of rain. It wasn’t so much a pitter-patter as it was a pressurized showerhead type of rain.
We won’t be going to the floating market this time, but we’ll be visiting family farms and having one big meal with everyone.
Life By The Water
It is sad to say that visiting the floating market wasn’t in the cards for us. The rain was against us immensely on this day and the vendors wouldn’t be caught in it. By the time the rain stopped, our driveway was flooded and some kids came out to float their paper boats in their new pond.
Life By The Mekong Delta
We still went out on the water anyway to where the market would have been held and enjoyed some sights of how life is near the delta.
I think it’s important to mention that if you’re going during the rainy season, you’re likely to miss out on the floating market. With the opening of the market at 5am and the busiest times before 9am (ish),there won’t be anything to see when there’s a downpour until 8am like there was for us. Reading reviews on Trip Advisor had also mentioned the popularity of the market is declining partly due to a new bridge that was built. What a shame!
Even with the disappointment of missing out on the floating market and a chance to eat pho on a boat, cruising along in our boat and seeing the sights was a great constellation prize. I liked passing by the houses that sit right on the edge of the water with steps into the water for any visitors arriving boat. Many of the houses had dogs standing watch. They would be tied up to possibly prevent them from going for a swim.
Just from peering in the house, I found some similarities to how houses are laid out to those in my mother’s village in Thailand. The houses are small, and life probably revolves around one room for eating and sleeping. It would have been nice to see what the inside of these houses looked like.
I also thought these small ferries were interesting. It was only a short distance to the other side by water, but if you look at the map above it is quite the drive. People on foot or with bicycles and motorcycles squeezed onto these boats to travel to their next destination.
Durian and Jackfruit
I was so excited to go to the family’s jackfruit and durian farms. I mentioned jackfruit in an earlier post and how fragrant and sweet it was in comparison to the ones you can by in Vancouver, and now I get to see where they come from.
Even just walking up to the house you see jackfruit trees along the path. The trees themselves are not very impressive, and I wonder how they can support the weight of these giant fruits once fully grow.
As we were getting a tour, someone was cutting down fruits that were ready to be sold. They cut a piece off near the stem to see if the fruit is ripe. It wasn’t very clear how they determined it, but they’ve been doing this for a long time so I guess it’s just second-nature. Some of the fruit on the way to market were the size of our car’s tire!
The land used to grow the trees was quite muddy. It was also sectioned up into rectangular islands with small dikes surrounding each section of land. I suppose with this irrigation system, they never have to worry about watering the trees, or having too much moisture in the ground because water has somewhere to empty into.
Danton had tried explaining to me a very crude type of bathroom they have at the farm. I didn’t really understand what he meant until I saw it for myself. A plank of wood with a hole in the center is suspended across two “islands” and privacy is provided by some aluminum sheets. The waste falls into the water where fish have the task of cleaning it up. Don’t worry, they don’t go fishing here!
I was a bit nervous standing under the trees. I imagined how there are more people that die annually from coconuts falling on their heads than from shark attacks- so, what about death by durian?
If you are unfamiliar with durian fruit, it is a big fruit with a thick and spiky outer shell. It is prickly and I can only imagine what it would feel like to have one fall on your head. We were assured that durian only falls from the tree at noon and at midnight. I can’t be sure how accurate this statement is, but it was well past noon and none fell.
If you like durian, you’re in for a treat. Vietnamese durians are a bit smaller and not as creamy as the ones I’ve had in Thailand, but it was still so much better than the frozen stuff you get from your Asian supermarket. If you are unfamiliar, durian is very pungent and the smell can be very off-putting to some. I’ve heard someone say the texture is like flesh, but I don’t know what kind of meat they’re eating because it is actually very creamy and rich. While in the village for 1.5 days, Danton and I shared 3 of these fruits together. So yummy!
Cooking and Eating
You don’t need fancy equipment to create delicious meals. In fact, you just need a bunch of helping hands and a strong fire!
The above photos are from the house we were staying at, not at the farm, but it was very similar. Most cooking is done in an open space with fire. There is a roof above so you aren’t cooking in the rain. In the second photo, there’s an area to do prep work and store some of the unused cookware. In the room through the door (not pictured) there is actually a typical gas range stove that is used as well.
Before heading back to Ho Chi Minh City, we had a huge lunch with most of Danton’s family. There were so many people- which means tons of food! On the menu today was banh xeo, a crepe-like dish cooked in a really hot skillet and stuffed with pork, bean sprouts, and eaten with greens.
In addition to our banh xeo, we also had banh khot, a salad with ground snake meat, river prawns, and lots of Tiger beer! I’ll never forget all the delicious food we had and the incredible hospitality I received from Danton’s family =]
We had to leave for Ho Chi Minh after the meal to meet with other family and to eat more. We went to FOUR different places and it deserves its own post.
Keep your eyes peeled for it! =]