Mekong days / by Liesl Pfeffer


An Binh, Vietnam
April 2018

We arrived on the island of An Binh in the late afternoon. We were met by our hosts who gestured for us to jump on the back of their two motorcycles for the quick ride to their homestay. (Sure, why not, let's hope I don't fall off with my 15 kg backpack strapped to me). We traveled quickly (but safely) along narrow paved paths surrounded by palm trees and fenced houses. Our homestay was a big open plan structure made from dark timber, strewn with hammocks and surrounded by plants, flowers and a pond (from which we ate a delicious elephant ear fish for dinner). In the yard, our hosts' ancestors were buried with small but elegant tombstones.

We borrowed bikes and rode around the island, stopping to watch a soccer game in a dirt field, and later to photograph the beautiful slanting golden light at dusk, when everyone burns their rubbish in their yards.  The next morning we woke up early, met our guide and walked quickly to a longtail boat which our guide deftly directed through narrow canals and out into the Mekong Delta proper. The light was weak but still hot, and we watched the river coming to life. Soon it was scorching. We ate baguettes with cheese and bananas as we very slowly moved across the Mekong, stopping and changing directions now and again to visit a bonsai garden and a candy maker. Mostly we just slowly cruised and let our thoughts drift as we watched the river: big boats transporting huge mountains of rice, young kids playing naked in the water at the shore, a man washing his boat in shorts.