In Ho Chi Minh City we bought a Mekong Delta one-day trip. We decided against Cu Chi Tunnels and skipped floating market (I do regret it a bit); they say that Vietnamese market is not as colorful as the one near Bangkok. Still I would like to have seen it. We really enjoyed Mekong tour. Leaving in the morning wasn’t that bad even though I remember being very tired. We got some sweet buns on our way to the bus. They were sweet and freshly baked, I remember I loved them.
Oh by the way, we some crazy looking cakes in a cafe/bakery, western style. Feast for the eyes and decided to spoil ourselves one day. DO NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE! Very expensive and very tasteless and old.
Our guide was quite funny but very vicious towards Americans and Europeans. Among other things he stated that we are all fat because we eat a lot of chocolate and they are thin because they eat healthy. Well…
In Vietnam there is only one long highway along the coast (and one single train track almost next to it) which is called “hip-hop highway” imagine why… we found out it’s really true on a night bus while leaving Ho Chi Minh City. The trip included: transportation to a boat on the riverbank, visiting fruit farm (we tasted some caramelized fruits, were able to hold a snake and touch the wax hive cells in between the bees – our guide was convinced we don’t have bees at home), visiting small manufacture where they produce coconut candies in old fashion way (BTW it’s more expensive to buy it there than in a regular shop), and the best part of it all – rowing boat ride in Mekong canals (LOVED IT) to a place where you’ll get something to eat and listen to traditional music (opinions were divided, I liked it, but I have to admit only after getting used to strange sounds). It’s a shame I didn’t do a recording. Anyway then the guide wanted to convince everyone to go back by motorboat, we didn’t do it, it was a bit too expensive. Anyway don’t believe him when he says you will be stuck waiting for another group or in traffic on your way back. As far as I remember it was a quick one.
The coconut candy process is really very simple. First you need to crack the coconut. Veeeeerrrrryyyy simple… have a look at the blade that helps you do it. Then you take the milk and pulp out. The milk is then cooked with malt syrup and sugar on a stove, being constantly mixed to avoid lumps. What comes out is a condensed milk to which they add various ingridiens. The sweets come in different flavors – chocolate, coconut, durian, and nuts. When the pulp is thick they pour it over board with grooves to shape them and let them thicken even further. The sweets are then cut and wrapped into wax paper.
I think the music we listen to while dining was Ca Tru. I found some interesting information online which I would like to share:
Ca tru music sounds strange to the uninitiated. Clicks and clacks accompany the centuries old ballads. It is not the kind of music that inspires toe tapping or humming. (…) These performances were mostly for men. When men entered a ca tru inn they purchased bamboo tally cards. In Chinese, tru means card. Ca means song in Vietnamese, hence the name ca tru: tally card songs. The tallies were given to the singers in appreciation for the performance. After the performance each singer received payment in proportion to the number of cards received. (…)
Ca tru requires at least three performers. The singer is always a woman and plays the phach, an instrument made of wood or bamboo that is beaten with two wooden sticks. A musician accompanies the singer on the dan day, a long-necked lute with three silk strings and 10 frets. There is also a drummer or trong chau.
The drummer shows his approval of the singer or the songs depending on how he hits the drum. If he likes a song he might hit the side of the drum several times. If he is disappointed with the singer, he hits the drum twice. The guitar player must follow the rhythm of the phach. His instrument, the dan day, is only used in ca tru and is now made almost exclusively for sale to tourists who find the shape intriguing.