Floating Market and Elephant Ears
A recent trip to Saigon gave our contributor, Michelle Lee, the chance to explore Vietnamese hospitality in four short days. After trying out original Vietnamese noodle (Pho), and visiting the war remnants in Vietnam, she heads toward the Mekong Delta to experience the colorful floating market.
Cai Be Floating Market
I got up early the next day to join the Mekong Delta day tour, starting with a 4 hours bus ride towards the Cai Be Floating market. This market is both popular with the tourist and important for the locals. We boarded a bum-boat and entered the buoyant floating market, a very picturesque and uniquely Vietnamese experience.
Hundreds of boats filled with various produces are anchored along the banks of the river every day! Meat, vegetables, fruits and all sorts of goods are hanging on the boats, hung on poles that the locals call “cay beo”. Hundreds of such poles point sky wards.
After the colorful local market, the guide took us to several home factories where villagers made peanut and caramel sweets, coconut candy, rice crisps and rice paper for a living. We ended the inland tour with a trek through lush orchard and bee farms before heading back towards the boat to embark on a 40 minutes cruise heading towards smaller islands around the delta.
Other than the colorful floating market, the Mekong Delta is also famed for its beautiful landscape and picturesque greeneries. As we observe the typical Mekong Delta rural life, it’s easy to see how that fame came about. These charming canals and small islands are like no other, and one can easily immerse yourself in nature as you explore the area.
Elephant Ear Fish, a Mekong Specialty
We finally arrived at Binh Hoa Phuoc village, the green pearl of Vinh Long town at around noon, feeling hot and hungry. There we lunched on special local fare – elephant ear fish! This fifteen-inch fish shaped like a bass was standing straight up in wooden holders. It has been deep fried to crisp perfection, and its shaped like an elephant ear, thus the name.
The white flaky fish meat were rolled into rice papers mixed with fresh mint, cilantro, basil and dipped into the bowl of fish sauce. This mixture of chilis, fresh herbs and soft fish made for a tasty lunch indeed! As we indulged ourselves on this unique delicacy, traditional Mekong music and dance performance were held for our enjoyment.
Finally, we end the day tour with a relaxing walk around this small village, through the bonsai garden, before heading back towards Saigon.