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Saturday, February 25, 2012

To the land of white rice and clean water

Day 1:

At first, one arrives at Ninh Kieu quay and hires a boat bound for Cai Rang floating market. Make sure the boat belongs to a travel agency and there are enough life jackets on it. Then only boarding once the written contract is signed with such details as itinerary, destinations, departing time and other services, if any. The cost is varied up to the number of visitors and your specific requirements. With a distance of some 5 km, you also can travel to Cai Rang by bus, taxi, or motorbike; a pedicab (if any) is also a good mean of transportation. From An Binh market or around Cai Rang bridge piers, you can hire a boat to the nearby floating market upstream.
Making rice paper
Depending on your own interests, the cruise is estimated to last around 3 - 4 hours. In case o your first trip to the Mekong Delta, it is recommended to go in company with a tour guide for better understanding the South Vietnam’s river culture. You yourself can sense the living environment imbrued with delta activities: hundreds of merchandisers’ sampans and boats in close proximity to one another and dealing in fruits and agricultural products of all kinds. In the summer time, Cai Rang floating market is glowing with fresh colors of fruit specialties in ripening season: durians, mangos teens, rambutans, longans… piled up on boats and sampans of all kinds. Sightseers also have a chance to witness the river – based life of many merchandising families.
Meat roll
From Cai Rang floating market, the trip goes on by both river and road along the provincial road No. 923 (locally called Vong Cung road) towards Phong Dien district. In order to see the real life of orchardists, one of the sites you can drop by is Sau Tuan durian garden (crossing My Khanh bridge, go for a short distance, you will reach Rach Sung wharf. Take a ferry over the river, get ashore and go straight for a while before turning right and crossing a bridge, again you turn left, keep going for around 4 km and there you are). This orchard offers no tourist service. There is only a small coffee shop in front as a stop-over for guests. The owner will guide visitors across the 6 ha wide orchard of yellow – flesh flat – seed durian and mangoes teen. You can choose by yourself newly fallen durians or ripe mangos teens in reddish purple, then have them weighed for payment. Tourists can either savour fruits right in the orchard or bring them home.
Fishing-net
Day 2: 

In case of staying overnight in Can Tho, you can come to Phu Sa resort or alternatively visit traditional craft villages west of Can Tho.
Can Tho cruiser
At Ninh Kieu wharf No. 2; Phu Sa Resort’s boats are available for free. If you wish to control your time or don’t want to wait, you can hire a boat and reach the resort after 10 minutes. After paying for an entrance ticket, you can immediately immerse yourself in the spicily pleasant scenery of Au islet in which Phu Sa resort covers 30 hectares, featuring fruit trees, bonsais, flowers and many ponds with lotus and water lily. The whole area is surrounded by cork forests. Familiar services are available like crocodile fishing, canoeing through cork forests, swimming on Hau river…
Phu Sa tourist area
Visitors will have an opportunity to take part in many highly thrilling games such as flying parachute pulled by motor canoe (which helps the player flying in the air, enjoy the view of Hau river and Can Tho city at an altitude of tens of meters) or riding water motorbike, motor canoe cruising, water-skiing… Phu Sa resort serves a variety of well-known folk cakes such as banh xeo (rice pancake folded in half filled with shrimp, meat and bean sprouts), banh duc (dessert in the form of gelatinous blocks made from non-glutinous rice flour, colored green by the addition of Pandanus amaryllifolius leaf extract), banh tet (cylindrical sticky rice cake filled with green bean paste and fat pork), banh cung (a kind of rice cake wrapped in banana leaves) and numerous unique dishes like lau ban Phu Sa (Phu Sa – style cork hot pot served with several seasonal catfish or crabs, tortoise, and various kinds of fresh herbs and vegetables), mon Tu Quy (4-season dish consisting of several kinds of salted fish served with baked snake-head fish, boiled pork and fresh vegetables). Feeling a little tired, you can rent a tent, a hammock hanging in the shade of trees to enjoy the cool air watching Can Tho bridge, listening to don ca tai tu (traditional music played by amateurs).
Kniting bamboo fish trap
Alternately, you can make a tour on your own to original craft villages by motorbike. From Can Tho city, riding along the national road No. 91 to the three-way intersection fronting Song Hau Farm, one will see a right turning into Bang Tang road – the area is home to many traditional craft villages of O Mon district and Thot Not district. The first is Di Tho bamboo fish trap weaving village, located some 3 km from the three-way intersection of Bang Tang road which belongs to Thoi Long ward (O Mon district). Lop (bamboo fist trap) is a popular tool for fishing during flood season starting from July to October of lunar calendar. Following the concrete path along the Di Tho canal, visitors will reach Ba Rui village specializing in making earthen stoves for witnessing the skill of craftsmen who knead clay and model it into popular stoves widely consumed in Hau Giang province. Keep going along Cut canal, Thom Rom canal, and one will come to the rice-paper making village of Thuan Hung commune (Thot Not district). Many visitors find it excited to see the skill of women who spread liquid rice flour over a steaming hot flat pan to shape a very thin and round piece.
Cork soup

Lau ban Phu Sa
After leaving craft villages, continue to follow the shady path leading to the pier and take a boat to Tan Loc islet (Thot Not district), one will stop by Sau Tia’s eco-garden or Don Thanh Nam’s bonsai garden, visiting ancient houses built in the 1900s. In the summer time, Tan Loc islet charms visitors with fruit specialties ripening on trees, especially in the festival of fruits held in Tet Doan Ngo (lunar mid-year festival) on the 5th day of lunar May. In case you travel in group, it is recommended to choose a travel agency and feel free to make a selection among their designed tours. Wish to go nowhere? So let dine! Select a restaurant suiting your taste, such as lau mam Da Ly (on 3-2 street) serving lau mam (mixed vegetables and fermented fish flavored hot pot), nem nuong Thanh Van (Hoa Binh avenue) serving nem nuong (grilled pork roll). Alternatively, come to Hem 1 on Ly Tu Trong street to taste vit nau chao (mixed vegetables and duck with soya cheese hot pot) or dine in any restaurant around Bai Cat, on Tran Van Kheo street, around Can Tho Water Park. At these restaurants, you can stay as long as you wish!

(Mekong Delta Tourism Guidbook – VCCI Can Tho – www.vccimekong.com.vn)