Keeping with the trend of spending most of my time in Saigon not actually staying in the city itself, I was off to the west and the Mekong (“Nine Dragon River”) Delta and although the region is named after nine dragons, the trip would be taking me to Unicorn, Phoenix and Turtle Islands. Not surprising name choices, considering there are at least 6 countries in South East Asia alone that have an island called “Turtle Island” in their respective languages:
|Country||Island Named After a Turtle||Origin|
|Indonesia||Pulau Penyu||Pulau = IslandPenyu = Turtle
|Malaysia||Taman Pulau Penyu||The words have the same meaning in Malay with the addition of “Taman” meaning “Park”|
|Philippines||Tawi-Tawi Turtle Isles||Tawi-Tawi is the region in the Philippines the isles are located in|
|Singapore||Kusu Island||Kusu = Turtle(Chinese)|
|Thailand||Koh Tao||Koh = IslandTao = Turtle
|Vietnam||Turtle Island||Come on, its in English already!|
Also, before embarking, we were told that Unicorn Island was famous for producing coconut candy and I immediately got excited about being able to meet Charlie The Unicorn at Candy Mountain.
As it turned out, there actually was an entire mountain of candy at one of the production locations, where we were able to see the full process from coconut to juicer to mixer to stretching to wrapping, resulting in heaps of flavours combining coconut with chocolate, roasted peanut and durian!
Continuing the sweet tour, the next stop was a local bee farm and chance to taste honey tea, ginger and nuts. I’ve always thought beekeeping was kind of awesome – there’s just something about a mini-factory literally running off flower power I guess! (Along with the fact that I spent hours researching The Fairmont Royal York’s rooftop bee farm for a university project and thought it was pretty badass that they (a) have a rooftop garden in downtown Toronto, (b) are in a partnership with Mill Street Brewery to use the honey in their beers and (c) use the extra in the restaurant to flavour their desserts.)
Once I had satisfied my sweet tooth enough to last the rest of my life, I realized my hipster levels were the next thing in need of a recharge. So I hopped off the “mainstream” motorboat we had been traveling on and into an alternative Can Tho small boat while ironically sporting a conical Asian hat.
From there, I ate a locally and organically produced lunch while listening to an underground Viet band, whom I eventually joined in on, playing the Vietnamese đàn nguyệt, or moon lute.
After my jam session, I hopped on one of the fixed speed bikes the restaurant rented out for free and cycled out to take crappy artsy pictures of an abandoned carousel with my DSLR and drink some Trung Nguyen coffee (basically the Viet version of Starbucks: its expensive (by Vietnam standards) and names its brews things like “discover”).
At that point, I realized that if I did anything else hipster-y, I’d run the risk of hipster-logic kicking into overdrive, convincing me that breathing is too mainstream, so instead, I called it a day and made my way back to Saigon (also, the tour had finished, so I had to go back anyways, but that’s beside the point)