Family trip in Vietnam - 1st episode: Enter the Dragon

attractions - Vietnam: Nov. 1, 2013

Family trip in Vietnam

Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer.Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures.

Family trip in Vietnam - 1st episode: Enter the Dragon

Shimmering, glowing, lush and mystical – dragons await us. To be transported by the water of the mighty Mekong is a journey down a rich, swift and congested highway in one of the most fertile, abundant and beautifully kinetic places in the world. Water becomes marketplace, superhighway and irrigation pipeline all in one.

Family trip in Vietnam

We’ve left behind the crazed, crowded shopping malls in the US just a week before Christmas, happy to avoid the rush only to run smack into liquid commerce riding the dragon.

Who knew?  Welcome back to Vietnam, my children, it’s going to be an amazing, exhilarating and remarkable ride.

In “international adoption parlance” our family is making a heritage tour or homeland visit. We return with our children, Claire who is 12 and Peter, 7, both born in Phu Tho province, northwest of Hanoi. They came home to the United States as infants shortly after being adopted by my husband John and me and now we visit Vietnam to reconnect them with the land of their birth. It is a path with heart.

Family trip in Vietnam

The Mekong is our first stop in this homeland journey. We take an overnight cruise on an ancient Vietnamese rice boat, which happens to be a gentle way to glide into a 12 hour time change-- not having planned --our more than 24 hours of air travel with delays, missed connections, lost luggage and only 4 hours of rest to recharge us.

The (Bassac II) cruise is our tonic – a sweet, neat and easy climb onto the back of these many dragons.

The Mekong Delta’s nine tributaries are referred to by the Vietnamese as the “nine dragons.”  Four of these tributaries empty into the sea, five more meander around the delta and find their way there eventually.

Family trip in Vietnam

At various points on the River, the tributaries can run along narrow cement canals or just as quickly open up to wide gaping exposures hosting barges moving masses of its silt-y bed to shorelines.

“Tuck-tuck”ing boats loaded with fruits, logs, gravel and other goods ply the entire region and its banks  which are punctuated with houses, docks, businesses, boat launches and the large loading docks of rice processing factories.

Rooster crows, karaoke calls and roiling outboard engines are the sound scape of the Delta.  It’s a wonder to behold and a sight to see – unlike any other river in the world. All of ones senses are engaged and enlivened on this river journey.

Family trip in Vietnam

We begin our journey in Cai Be and the kids enjoy seeing rice popped and coconut candies cooked and especially delight when they are invited to taste along the way. The next stop on our boat ride is a visit to a small village on the Mang Thit River.

There we walk along paths where pineapples, mangos and other fruits, herbs and flowers are grown. We visit a rice paddy to learn how the fields are prepared for planting and end the land portion of the tour with a visit to a family home to drink tea and taste local fruits. 

At day’s end we anchor at Tra On, a quiet spot on the river just downstream from Can Tho and the Cai Rang floating market which is tomorrow’s adventure.

Writer: Kathleen Brown

Other articles written by Kathleen:

Family trip in Vietnam - 1st episode: Enter the Dragon

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 2: Cai Rang Water Opera

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 3: Hoi An ancient town

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 4: Hoi An Countryside

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 5: the LifeStart Foundation

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 6: Hoi An Cooking Class

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 7: Project Runway in Hoi An

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 8: Water Puppets - Vietnam's Original Muppets

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 9: Time to Cha Cha with the Chả Cá

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 10: A Visit to the Hung Kings Citadel and Au Co Ancestral Site

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 11: Our Visit to the Perfume Pagoda

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 13: Saigon Street Eats

Family trip in Vietnam - Final Episode: An Afternoon in Cholon

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