Photos by Thuy Pham (Yale University), Student Correspondent CET Vietnam, Summer 2019 Stretching from the southwest outskirts of Hồ Chí Minh City to the Gulf of Thailand, Mekong Delta is known as the agricultural miracle – responsible for more than one third of Vietnam’s food supply despite accounting for just ten percent of its total land mass. With its nutrient-rich soil, we saw rice, coconut palms, fruit orchards, and sugar-cane groves thrive along the paddy fields and swamplands. Our first meal at the homestay was lunch featuring a fried elephant ear fish – grandly elevated with two podiums and decorated with a local flower. The Mekong Delta specialty definitely made the five-hour bus ride worth it. Chôm chôm (rambutan) hanged in abundance as we walked across the fields. One of our friends was a little bit too excited to eat the fresh rambutan from the tree that she forgot to use her hands! We had the opportunity to observe the process of making Vietnamese sweet and savory crispy rice crackers. The final product is golden in color, crispy, and left a sweet and savory taste in our mouth. An absolute favorite snack for many Mekong Delta residents. Additionally, we witnessed how coconut candy (or kẹo dừa) was made from scratch starting from grating fresh coconut flesh to the final product on the table. The ladies skillfully cut up the coconut candy, wrapped it up in edible rice paper, and packaged them to be sold throughout Vietnam. After seeing the manufacturing process for the rice crackers and the coconut candy, we sat down for tea and samplers of both cuisines. From a sideward glance, we noticed a python locked in a cage with the gatekeeper fairly closed by. A few exchanges later, all of the members in our group had the opportunity to pose with the snake – who definitely had favorites among us. Afterward, we visited a local ceramic village where we observed traditional kilns used to bake pottery and thousands of pots and porcelain products in production. Before we entered, our tour guide informed us there three types of weather in Mekong Delta: hot, hotter, and hottest. It was just our luck that the site visit was considered “hottest.” Markets are among some of the most authentic places for travelers like us to experience the daily lives of the locals. From thousands of people haggling for the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and appliances to the food stands that surrounded us on all sides, we couldn’t ask for a wider range of Vietnamese delicacies. The keepers of the homestay taught us how to make savory Vietnamese crepes aka bánh xèo from scratch. From mixing the batter to preparing the filling ingredients to sizzling the crepe in a hot pan, we loved being involved in the process from start to end (-ed up in our stomach). Did we forget to mention our homestay had puppies! Eight to be exact. If we weren’t on our excursions or preparing food, we were playing with the puppies. From left to right, we had Dan, Dixie, Soc, and Sleepy. They were bundles of joy, but our director was adamant we couldn’t bring one back to be the CET mascot. The waterways in Mekong Delta has provided its residents access to convenient transportation, bathing, cooking, drinking, and irrigation. Additionally, the water has helped countless families sustain a livelihood with their floating fish farms which are located adjacent to their houses. Traditionally, the fishermen live on floating houses, buoyed by large bundles of bamboo. Their lives are closely connected to the fish that swim beneath their homes.