Before experiencing the best of the Mekong Delta, my imagination cruised me down quiet rivers shaded by palms, while other sampans paddled over to sell me tropical fruits. I was shocked to discover there was very little serenity and very little shade. There were the canals of Ben Tre, but they were set aside for tourists, as you can see from our Raiden hats and in the faces of the happy boat people of the Mekong.
A more logical person would recognize that civilization started in the land between two rivers, and that future civilizations would follow suit. Like the more than twenty million Vietnamese–a quarter of the country’s population–who now live in the land between nine rivers (or the nine major branches) of the muddy Mekong. With a huge population comes the ugliness of industry, traffic, trash, and of course tourism.
But there were certain aspects of the Mekong Delta region that made the trip worthwhile.