Instead, I opted for a shorter afternoon tour to get a glimpse of the local life in Bà Rịa, a small town in the province of Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu in Southeastern Vietnam. I wanted to go where most tourists didn’t go; “off the beaten track” you could say. Ha! I’m just kidding – I do not even like the overused term ‘off the beaten track’!
Truth is the tour for Ho Chi Minh was a 9-hour tour that departed at 7am. If you know me even a little, you will know that I am not a morning person. Bà Rịa then presented itself as an alternative. I had never even heard of this town before so it was kind of exciting. Thus, Ho Chi Minh would have to wait and I was off to the countryside.
A short while and about a hundred scooters later, we reached Dinh Than Phuoc Le or Phuoc Le Temple, which dates back 200 years. The symbol above, which was within the temple grounds represents power and reincarnation.
In the middle of the temple inside are 2 sculptures of a bird on a turtle. Our guide explained that the bird symbolizes happiness while the turtle equals longevity, and that red and yellow colors are believed to be powerful.Next, we dropped by a local market and walked around to take in the sights and smells.
One fruit seller was particularly sweet for agreeing to pose with me.
Our guide also told us a bit about some local customs and beliefs. I remember her say that in Vietnam the right age for marriage is between 24-28 years. If a woman is above 30 and unmarried, she will be referred to as ‘Old Lady’. Quite intense and certainly a great deal of pressure!
Then we went to see the making of Rice paper, which is widely used in Vietnamese cuisine. Apart from water and salt, a bit of chili and onions were also added to the rice batter for extra seasoning. The rice batter is spread thinly across a cloth that covers a pot of steaming water. Rice husks are used as fuel for the stove, so nothing goes wasted. How nice, right?
Once the rice papers are steamed, they are then placed on bamboo rack and left to dry in the sun. We got to taste a bit as it was freshly being made and it was quite delicious!
We also came across beautiful rice fields like this along the way.
The day trip ended on a happy and merry note – Rice wine! Wine, water and yeast are left to ferment for 2 days before being distilled. Its potency is similar to that of Vodka’s with about 42% alcohol percentage. YO! And that’s how you say ‘Cheers’ in Vietnam.
I can’t say I explored a new country. It’s unfair to even suggest it, as I spent only a few hours there. But I did see some new things, appreciate what was around me and tried to learn whatever I could. Isn’t this what travel is about?
Have you visited Vietnam? Which was your favorite city or town? Where in Vietnam would you like to go?
Here are some more pictures I took on that day. Don’t miss the small surprise right at the end!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are always my own.