A Day Trip To My Tho in Mekong Delta

Aside from the lip-smacking yet mellow food of Ho Chi Minh, another highlight that I consider in my recent trip to Vietnam was the exploration me and my colleagues did at My Tho, Tien Giang Province located in the Mekong Delta.

The site is not the typical destination a tourist would expect.  The body of water is not pristine.  It definitely is not for snorkeling. White sand beach is non-existent.  The grounds and terrain are not well manicured.  And there is no amber-sun-setting-photo-opportunity to grab. It is not your typical tropical paradise.

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Mekong, Vietnam

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For me Melkong Delta being a tourist destination is a totally different animal.  Their comprehensive river channels boasts of its boats which ranges from elegant sampans to unpainted and crude lumbering cargo boats.  The surprisingly odorless dark waters of the canals seem to have lots of  intriguing tales to tell.  The captivating bodies of water makes this place interestingly remarkable.

The activities on land, on river banks and along the river channels are busy yet I felt relaxed, languid and unhurried.  I particularly like the dense palms and mangroves ruling the comprehensive swamps and channels.

We tasted honey from bee hives, were served with various tropical fruits, listened to Vietnamese folksongs, went on tiny sampans to be rowed through swamps and canals, ate coconut sweets and had lunch in which the main dish is the massive fish appropriately called “elephant ear”.

strong woman of vietnam

strong woman of vietnam

coconut candy maker... an exotic delight...

coconut candy maker… an exotic delight…

blue sampans perfectly compliments the color of brown water

blue sampans perfectly compliments the green palms and brown water

My overall trip to My Tho in Mekong Delta was fun, easy and leisurely yet indeed remarkable…

Relaks lang ang peg…

Progression of Charming Saigon

Last weekend was my second time to travel and visit the beautiful city of Saigon / Ho Chi Minh.  Progress has been so evident as compared to the last time I visited this southern city of Vietnam.  The whole city obviously is in high spirits!

those high buildings were not there when i first visited

those high rise buildings were not there when i first visited. notice how clean the streets are? i’m envious…

Buildings are higher.  The streets are cleaner.  International branded stores and enterprises are now selling and operating.  It’s now easier for pedestrians to cross the streets of Saigon because the lighted green and red men are now present (they already have “walk” and “don’t walk” light signals).

notre dame cathedral... still lovely...

notre dame cathedral… still lovely…

still operational, still iconic --- saigon post office

still operational, still iconic, still tourist-filled —
saigon post office

saigon city hall... i love this shot!!!

saigon city hall… i love this shot!!!

One very evident  observation about Saigon which still persists is that there seem to be no stout, chubby and flabby inhabitants in the city. Everybody looks so slim and slender which according to our Vietnamese tour guide when we went to Mekong Delta is attributed to the type of diet Vietnamese has. This makes me a little bothered when I was in Saigon.  I am tubby, chubby and fleshy in this country!

posing for some "Italian fashion magazine" (hahaha!) at the top of reunification palace

posing for some “italian fashion magazine” (hahaha!) at the top of reunification palace

photo taken inside a mall.  shopping malls are starting to proliferate. move over ben thanh market!

photo taken inside a mall. shopping malls are starting to proliferate. move over ben thanh market!

Anyway, though growth, progress and improvements are so apparent at the present Saigon, it’s good to know that its charm remains intact.  The streets and boulevards are still lined with tall lush trees and the majority of the Saigonese remains pleasant, gentle and well-mannered.

Oo na! Mataba ako sa Byetnam!

Huong Lai Gave Me Odorless Flatulence

It has always been my bizarre desire that my fart would smell like a freshly baked vanilla cupcake.  However, considering the obtuse and thoughtless diet that I have, this impossible dream is so very unlikely to happen.  The smell of my fart will forever be a stink that can cause global catastrophe.

However, the smell of my digestive gas has considerably improved last weekend during the few days of my stay in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.  This improvement can be attributed to the type of local food served in Vietnam.  It’s usually fresh greens, garden crops, fresh greens, edible parts of plants like seeds, flowers, stalks and more fresh greens.  Did I already say fresh greens??? Meats are included in their dishes but only at a very minimal amount.  Because of this, the generated gas from my stomach and intestines has gone odorless.

Don’t get me wrong about Vietnamese food.  I happen to get to like them especially the food I and my trip-mates ate when we dined at a rustic-countrified-looking restaurant which serves home-style Vietnamese cuisine.  It is called Huong Lai, a little gem of a restaurant located along Ly Tu Trong Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh.

huong lai facade

huong lai’s facade (simple yet once you entered you will be treated to a great gastronomic adventure)

the eggplant was superb!!!  an uncomplicated dish yet with heavenly flavor.

the eggplant was superb!!! an uncomplicated dish yet with heavenly flavor.

minimalist and unfussy interiors...

minimalist and unfussy interiors…

i was particularly surprised by the taste, temperature and texture of this purple yam soup. super yummy!!!

i was particularly surprised by the taste, temperature and texture of this purple yam soup. super yummy!!!

though philippines has better tasting leche flan, it was my first time to taste longan fruit ice cream.  i was raving about it.  it was also my first time to see sweetened mung bean soup served as a dessert in a restaurant.

though philippines has better tasting leche flan, it was my first time to taste longan fruit ice cream. i was raving about it. it was also my first time to see sweetened mung bean soup (minatamis na munggo) served as a dessert in a restaurant.

I love this restaurant!!!  It’s façade and interiors were simple and non-imposing yet the dishes they serve were borderline orgasmic and heavenly delicious.  The flavors and textures were elegantly gentle and light.  At the end of the meal all of us were simply raving about the dishes and was left charmed by the home-style Vietnamese cooking of Huong Lai.  It definitely was worth the visit!

Puro gulay ang tsibog sa Biyetnam kaya walang amoy ang utot ko! Hahaha!

Visa-Free Quests for Ref Magnets

gmanetwork.com recently issued a news and clarification that Filipinos can visit 25 countries around the world without the need for a tourist visa.  This is in clarification to the starting-to-get viral Facebook post that Filipinos can go to 60 countries visa-free.  Press Link here for the clarification and list of visa-free countries which if you will actually count is 26.

I have been a believer of my country’s awesomeness but I love being a tourist and I fancy travelling out of the country.  Nengkoy (my mom) in her exasperated demeanor would often tell me that I don’t have kayamanan (investments, wealth and assets) because according to her my kayamanan are the experiences I gained out from my travels out of the country. So when I checked on the list, there have been six countries that I have already personally visited out of the 26 countries listed.

In each of the destinations I go to, may it be out of the country or within, I always make it a point to bring home with me a memento.  A “delicious” budget traveler like me cannot afford to buy exorbitant souvenirs like paintings, crystals or even silver spoons so I would settle for the cheapest.  That would be a ref magnet!  So, without further pomp and circumstance, here’s a look at the treasures of my adventures:

malaysia "truly asia"

morocco "land of the setting sun"

"amazing" thailand

vietnam "timeless charm"

"your" singapore

hongkong "best place, best taste"

Availability of ref magnets in tourist destinations bearing the name of the city or country as a simple memento is an indication that such place or destination is a tourist hub.

Anyway, referring back to the list, I still have a long way to go in covering all these countries.  I still have 20 more countries to go to visa-free.  However, I noticed that Macau is not included in the list.  It’s also visa-free…

macau "a world of difference"

I do not have investments and Nengkoy is correct. I may have zero assets, humongous liabilities and mediocre net worth but the experiences and wisdoms I gained out from these travels are priceless.

Sa Mars at Jupiter kaya may rep-magnet?