Crossing into Vietnam, we’re now entering the Mekong Delta. This delta is famous for its agricultural production, providing nearly half of Vietnam’s rice harvest and making the country the second largest exporter of rice globally after Thailand. This area of some 15,000 square miles is also known for fish farms, producing many catfish and shrimp that are exported worldwide.
After arriving last night, we’ll have an early breakfast and then set off on our excursion of Tan Chau. As they have done all along the way, AMA does a great job of making sure that all guests don’t end up at the same spot at the same time. Our group will visit the tour sites about 15 minutes later and in reverse order of the first two groups.
At some point during breakfast, 4 smaller, 30-40 passenger boats have come along side presumably bringing our Vietnamese guides onboard. After boarding these boats, our group heads up the narrow, winding channels lined with floating fish farms and stilt houses. Arriving at a traditional rural village, we’re greeted by school children who, just as in Cambodia, speak excellent English and seem genuinely excited to welcome us to their village. Walking through the village our guide stops to point out unique fruits and home building techniques. It seems that every house has a boat (or several), a TV antenna on the roof and a flat screen TV inside.
Once again boarding our boats, we arrive at the main village of Tan Chau. Here we find about 20 rickshaw divers ready to whisk us off to our first stop on this segment of the tour, a rattan mat and basket factory where we see how the grasses are dyed in the huge, boiling vats of color and then woven by electrically driven looms. The technology is exactly as it was in Cambodia, just that the foot pedals that drive the shuttle and the manual beater has been automated with rickety motors and pulleys. Rejoining our awaiting rickshaw drivers, we enjoy a short ride to a silk weaving factory. Again, the manual power has been replaced with electric motors that spin and shake the enormous looms. Our final journey on the rickshaws brings us to the pier where our boats are waiting to take us back to the AMALotus. Onboard, we enjoy lunch followed by a presentation on Vietnam by our new tour guides as the ship takes us to our next stop, Sa Dec.