As we’ve travelled around the Mekong Delta over the last few days, there has been a constant refrain in our ears: Hello! Hello! It’s a cliche to say that people here are really friendly, but it is actually astonishing how eager to engage everyone is. The Mekong seems to be chock full of adorable moppets, all of whom yelled hello in English with great verve as we passed by. Now, there are lots of cynical reasons that one can think up to explain the situation. Maybe the moppets find white people inherently hilarious, especially when, like us, they are lumbering through their villages on bikes. This one is actually quite likely. Perhaps Vietnamese people are highly conscious of the burgeoning tourist economy and want to do their part. Again, quite probably, but I don’t think that’s all it is. People in Thailand were friendly and helpful but this exuberant enthusiasm, this desire to talk to the strange people – even in tiny children – is a whole other atmosphere. It reminds me a little of Cuba, where everyone I met wanted to talk, and even suffered my terrible Spanish gladly to chat about politics. I haven’t quite got to comparing political systems with the moppets yet (though seriously, I need some explanations) but I have been utterly charmed by the welcome we’ve received here. 

We took several wobbly cycling trips around Co Co, Hoa Loc, and the islands by Vinh Long. It was lush and fascinating, though at times it felt like an alarming game of Crash Bandicoot as we navigated tiny humpback bridges, loose planks, motorbikes, chickens, and old ladies carrying baguettes. I’m not a very confident cyclist and at times I was convinced I was about to pitch head first into the Mekong river. Luckily at every turn I was revived by another moppet. Hello! Hello!

We’ve been on tiny boats, rowing around the network of tiny waterways around Vinh Long…

…and jam-packed ferries, crossing the wide expanses of the river with hordes of scooters.

Hello! Hello!

We visited rice paddies where the workers invited us to come down and see the work up close. This woman was a bit camera shy but her co-workers were super friendly and laughed (in a nice way) at our terrible attempts at Vietnamese.

Some of the residents aren’t quite so friendly. This water buffalo gave us less of a ‘hello’ and more of a ‘you looking at me?’

We’ve eaten some wonderful food over the last few days too. I’m going to save those meals for later, but as a rather alarming taster, how about these road-side morsels we came across while cycling? They’re some kind of baby bird, spit roasted and stuffed with their own unborn siblings! Yum!

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