Wednesday 7th December 2016.
I almost never slept that night as the humidity was unbearable. I woke up early to get ready for my pick up time. Not making it for breakfast time within the hotel, I sat outside and got myself a big bottle of water at the ABC bakery. I also bought the most beautiful treat I ever tasted; a scrumptious banana/chocolate danish bread. It was so soft and so well baked that I kept one for the trip and devoured one on the spot.
I waited outside the hotel for a good half an hour but there were no signs of anyone picking people up. I then looked at my receipt and to my surprise, the receipt said 7.50 am – pick up time. It was only 7.10 am. Feeling silly, I went back into the hotel as the heat of the Vietnamese morning was already intense. Just writing this makes want to go back so bad. I pushed the door to get in and sat down next to the window to enjoy the view blessed with the aircon that gently made things bearable.
I went out again and waited on the stairs anxious, when suddenly a guy came to the stairway and stood next to me. He was very shy. I could tell by the way he approached the building.
I said Hello and asked him if he was here for the Mekong Delta trip. He replied by nodding shyly and a very quiet yes. I replied: “oh me too”. I asked him what his name was and he said: “Karl”. I asked him where he was from, he replied: “Japan”. I uttered a shy “Konnichiwa”, he smiled and asked me if I could speak Japanese to which I replied no.
As we were getting to know each other, a guy came to us and asked us about the excursion. We were asked to follow him. We naturally followed him and he stopped at a few hostels and hotels on the way. We stopped in front a restaurant and everyone started to appear out of nowhere the group went from 5 people to 30 people in less than five minutes.
The guide explained to us a few things before the bus arrived. We were asked to board the bus. I sat not far from Karl and was getting ready with my cameras. The bus departed and it was so lovely to see the waking up of the city once again. It was then 8.30am. The journey to the Mekong Delta was a two hour-long drive. I was thrilled as ever since I got to Vietnam, all the trips I took were on averge 7-10 hours long bus drives . We stopped for a short break midway through to replenish on food or breakfast for the ones needing it. I went to sit down on a Hammock in the meantime which was so relaxing. I closed my eyes for a few seconds to absorb the beautiful weather. I finished my banana chocolate danish croissant.
I then got up to get back on the bus as I was afraid to miss it. The bus departed and it started to get really hot. I felt like I was in Mauritius for a second as the smell of the bus was so vintage. Everyone started to fall asleep despite being only a two hours trip. I guess everyone was exhausted from their respective jet lags.
I didn’t sleep and in front and right of me was a Malaysian family, the father looked at me and smiled, one of those healing smiles that is so warm, you cannot forget. He approached me and asked me where I was from, I replied London and originally from Mauritius. I greeted him with the salaam and he replied and shook my hand. His name was Muhammad Fikry and he was indeed from Malaysia. He introduced me to his lovely family. They were all on a 4 day family holiday. He said the prices from Malaysia were so cheap, it would have been sad to not take advantage of it. We spoke for hours and discussed where we would be able to do our salawah (prayers) throughout the day.
In no time, we arrived towards the sea as the strong smell of water transcended throughout the bus. Everyone started waking up and getting ready to come out.
Karl came off the bus at the same time as Muhammad and Karl introduced me to a guy whom he was sat next to on the bus, named; Sin Tung An from South Korea.
We sat on good seats and and looked at the incredible landscape/seascape ahead of us.
We carefully boarded. The guide asked us to remember the name and number of our boat. We got on it and departed…
The sea air felt so pure and it was real and I felt free. Once again, I felt like time was stopping. These are my favourite moments. The water-breeze gently sprayed on my face as the boat rushed through the small waves, I was closing my eyes was in awe, making dua. Al hamdulillah.
We arrived at the first island.
We were welcomed on this island by a lovely demonstration on how they cultivate the honey which was so exciting.
I held this bee colony which was smelled really good.
We then moved onto a tea ceremony where I tasted the most beautiful green tea in my life, called Bandhan Lip Green Tea which is made of lotus flowers.
It was now over, we had to leave for the next island but before this, the guide asked us if we wanted to see, touch and carry a 3 meters snake. I was so nervous but I took opportunity and did it.
We arrived on the next island, this time were welcome by a demonstration on how to make sweets from natural bee wax and coconuts and how to pack the final products.
We tried some samples and they were scrumptious. I walked around where a bamboo forest was and saw a little shop. I smelt the tea and realised it was the one I tried on the previous island, I shyly asked the guide to help me decipher which one it was and he showed me the one I recognised. I was so happy, I bought a pack of 6 packs of tea. The price didn’t matter as I had never tried such magnificent taste, texture and aroma.
We moved onto a jungle where we had to be careful where we were walking to find a beautiful cabin made out of bamboo. Again we were greeted with beautiful fruits and tea. I recognised most of the fruits as we have the same ones in Mauritius.
The longan caught my eye and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.
We walked quite a bit through villages to reach the bamboo boats with the famous Mekong Delta trip.
I started loading my film camera and Muhammad was absolutely shocked to see someone use film and of my age. We all laughed.
I was the last one to board the boat.
The trip lasted 30 minutes and it was so peaceful. I finally felt the real vietnamese ancient feel.
As soon as we reach the pier, we walked back to the main island deck where our boat was and the rain started pouring. To our surprise we got caught in a tropical storm. It was so exciting and scary at the same time but I loved it. I used my Vietnamese hat to protect me on the boat from the insane sea storm.
We reached the third island where it was time to eat.
I saw crocodiles and fish.
Muhammad went to do his salat and people at the table asked me what he was doing. I explained to them what he was gone to do. I already prayed.
We finished eating our delicious meals and we went to walk around the island. We had to cross the river by bamboo bridge. It was so much fun.
We return back to the boat still within the tropical rain and reached the port in no time.
We boarded the bus and took of to our way back to Ho Chi Minh City.
it was an incredible day and I was so happy I got to do it.
I arrived at the hotel and texted … and we decided to leave it at that as we were both tired, him from teaching and me from travelling.
Hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.