Without knowing exactly what to expect, we took the last minute decision to book a private sampan cruise on the Mekong delta. On the internet we couldn't find any details about the boat we'd be using for our three-day cruise so we started asking ourselves all sorts of question: Will there be a shower? Will we be sleeping in proper beds? Well, as soon as we saw the sampan we realised there was no need to worry. It was actually a luxury sampan with fully-equipped bedroom, bathroom, lounge area, breakfast area, wifi and super attentive (but discrete) staff to look after us.
There was also a baby sampan for excursions in shallow water!
So we spent three days cruising along the Mekong delta, from Cai Be to Chau Doc, near the Cambodian border. From the lounge area we could observe local people busy in their daily activities while we moved along peacefully from the comfort of the sampan.
Most boats on the Mekong have eyes to attract good luck. I'm not sure if this really works but it certainly makes pictures more interesting.
The Mekong delta is green all year round and covered in lush vegetation. Beautiful lotus flowers are very common.
Lotus flowers are used a lot in the local cuisine. Some meals are cooked in big lotus leaves. The stem can be sliced and fried to make some very exotic chips. We also tried fried rice with lotus seeds which apparently are more effective than sleeping pills.
We stopped for a stroll at the afternoon market of Binh Thuy. I loved the fruit and vegetable section, it was so colourful and full of different plants I didn't even know. The most beautiful part was the stalls selling edible flowers. These are banana buds. I tried them in a salad and they tasted quite nice.
We happened to be at the market on the day of the full moon, when it is a local tradition for everybody to eat vegetarian. Many food stalls became vegetarian just for one night and as the sun went down people were getting ready for dinner.
We also saw several stands selling ornamental flowers. In fact, on full moon days it is also a tradition to offer flowers to Buddha.
We were lucky to be at the market on a full moon day so that we could see the preparation for the special night. By the way, the view of the full moon from the sampan was great.