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Portland Leadership Institute

Nourish the Leader Within You

Leadership for the 21st Century

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Saturday in the Mekong Delta

Posted on 23 October, 2012 at 12:27
For me, if there was something I had to see/do while in Viet Nam, it was visit the Mekong Delta.  Growing up in the 1960s, the Mekong Delta was one of the most used phrases from the war.  But Delta:  the only deltas I knew at the time were the Mississippi Delta and Delta Dawn (if you're not old enough for that reference, you can google it, something we couldn't do back then).  We had no idea what the Mekong Delta was.

Jeanna and I had previously been on two of the great rivers of the world together, the Nile in 2008 and the Amazon in 2010.  Each time we were mystified by the great river, thrilled to be on it.  Fishing for piranha on the Amazon, and searching for idols on the Nile.  What would be in store for us today?

After >3 hours in the car from Binh Duong (if you're checking on a map, our actual location is Thu Dau Mot, just north of HCMC), we got to our destination, My Tho.  On the way we got the usual Saturday morning traffic, almost all motorbikes. And some views of the rice paddies.

Our tour guide, Trang, led us onto the first of the two boats we would be on for the day.  This is a pretty good example of what the Mekong traffic looked like that day; our boat was swift, the day was hot, the breeze felt great.  Not a care in the world.

Our first stop, of course, was food.  This picture of desserts does not do it justice; we've already eaten half of it.  We learned to use spices differently.  Try adding a pinch of salt and then some cayenne pepper to your pineapple.  What a taste sensation.  My favorite, for a number of reasons, was the fruit that you peeled off the hard brown shell, revealing a jellied surface (top left) with the hard black seed inside.  You eat the jelly and delete the seed.  Delish!

We took a donkey cart through the village, then a walk, and, out of nowhere, another deluge.  Yes, I love videos of the rain, so here is another one.  We have a picture of the delightful family that rescued us.  Jeanna always carries pencils for the kids, so everyone was happy.  We continued on our merry way.

The walk through the jungle continued to yield riches.  One was the sight of burial plots in the jungle; if you look closely (try blowing up the picture) you can see this one amongst the trees and underbrush.  This was as think as anything we had seen in the Amazon.  Again, we are in the tropics, relatively close to the equator.  Iquitos in Peru may be closer to the equator, but it can't be rainier, stickier, or hotter.  All of this breeds the underbrush.

We finished the day with a full meal, topped by the elephant ear fish.  The picture does not look as spectacular as it was.  We ate at an open air restaurant, back in the towns, away from the jungle.  Yet where we ate was recently jungle also; there has to be a place to put all the people who live in Viet Nam.  We learned that ~20 million people live today in the Mekong.

This final picture is of us on a smaller boat on a Mekong tributary.  The happy couple.

Categories: Teaching around the world

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101 Comments

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