Here at Buffalo Tours, we love to share our experiences travelling in South East Asia. Sarah Griffin, member of the Buffalo team shares her adventure in the Mekong Delta and why homestays are worth a try!
There is no denying the joys of a hotel pool bar. Or freshly turned down sheets and room service. But something has to be said about experiencing Vietnam from a homestay. Recently I traveled to the Mekong Delta on the Mekong Delta Experience tour, with an overnight in a homestay, and while a few creature comforts were sacrificed, the opportunity to meet and interact with the local communities was certainly a unique experience.
Home cooked produce from the Mekong region, freshly brewed banana rice wine and tales of daily life provide an experience unmatched by hotel accommodation. Sure there are a few sacrifices that must be made. Hot water is a luxury which can only be provided through boiling pots of water; local roosters rise at 3am and electricity is temperamental. However, sitting around drinking rice wine with the Huong family with the sounds of river life on our doorstep provides a genuine glimpse into daily life on the Mekong.
The Mekong Delta is truly a unique experience, unlike anywhere in Vietnam. One of the most attractive features of the Mekong is the local hospitality. Some would single out the sweeping panoramas of rice paddies, fruit orchards, or maze of waterways, but for me it was generosity of the local communities and their ability to find joy in life’s simplicities.
After a day of cruising the tributaries of the Mekong, our sampan arrived at An Binh Island. The island of An Binh – Binh Hoa emerges from the middle of the Tien River, just opposite to the town of Vinh Long. The island’s area covers around 6,000 hectares and has four villages: An Binh, Binh Hoa Phuoc, Hoa Ninh and Dong Phu. Its soil is fertile and rich with fresh water and fruit trees.
Our homestay for the evening was with Mr Huong and his family, who have built a small bamboo stilt house over the water, especially for guests. The rooms are basic with a bed, a mosquito net and a fan – but the gardens are spectacular. The lush, tropical garden features longan, orange, rambutan and guava trees. Here, we sat sipping rice wine and beer and listening to tales of Mekong life while Mr Huong’s daughters prepared a local feast of fresh seafood. As the sun was fading – so did the electricity!
Though initially alarmed by this power failure, I was soon reminded at how resourceful and resilient the Vietnamese people are, as we sat huddled around candle light, sipping beer and listening to Mr Huong’s war-time stories. Within an hour, the power returned and our dinner was served amidst the backdrop of the fruit orchards with the sounds of motorized canoes returning from a day at the floating markets.
A sound night’s sleep was aided by the potent banana wine and I was awakened by the sounds of roosters singing and boats heading for morning markets. After a breakfast of fresh fruits and baguettes, we bid Mr Huong and his family farewell, exchanging addresses and embraces.
Get a unique experience at a homestay in the Mekong Delta with Buffalo Tours!