An Afternoon In Vietnam

The Vietnamese scooter life What do you do when your cruise docks for a day at Phu My port in Vietnam, which is the port for Ho Chi Minh? Nope, I didn’t do the obvious.

Instead, I opted for a shorter afternoon tour to get a glimpse of the local life in Bà Ra, a small town in the province of Bà Ra–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 Ra 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.

200-year old temple - Dinh Than Phuoc Le Symbol inside the temple grounds

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.Bird on a turtle Next, we dropped by a local market and walked around to take in the sights and smells.

Fresh flowersPosing with a fruit seller

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?

Local Vietnamese lady making rice paperRice paper being spread onto bamboo rack

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!

Wall-paper, right? ;)Rice paper being sundried

We also came across beautiful rice fields like this along the way.

Rice fieldThe 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.

Observing the rice wine making processA big smile on our faces followed, not just because of the wine but because at this home distillery, we walked passed an 83-year old grandma.. just chilling.. on a hammock.

Hammock Grandma!After that, we returned to our ship, watched an amazing sunset and set sail into the wide ocean.

Sunset at Phu My PortI 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!

Our massive shipWhere the rice wine drips outFruit seller at the market Colorful vegetablesA woman in a traditional Vietnamese hat Another scooter! Local market with the Vietnamese flag Coconut husks A family of napping pigsAnd here is a special reward for all of you. At the home distillery we kept on hearing a strange laughter and eventually found the source. Click the Play button to find out..

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are always my own.

Comments: 14

  1. Great post – I love reading about smaller, lesser known places & interesting to learn about how rice paper is made! I went to Vietnam recently but didn’t make it to Southern Vietnam and hear it is quite different from the north.

    • Nita Mar 12 at 6:19 pm Reply

      Thanks, Shikha! Oh yes, I remember reading about your fun cooking class :) Making of the rice paper was quite interesting to watch. Would love to visit the north and see Halong Bay soon!

  2. Linda Bibb Mar 20 at 3:23 am Reply

    A 9-hour trip with a busload of people? Your adventure sounds much more fun and interesting. I’m very intrigued by the rice wine; did it taste more like vodka or like sake?

    • Nita Mar 20 at 4:24 am Reply

      Haha, that’s what I thought! I did have an interesting day 😉 The rice wine tasted similar to sake. From the facade of the house you would never guess there was a distillery inside! Thank you for reading, Linda :)

  3. Tara Mar 23 at 4:14 pm Reply

    So much to see and experience! I love the finishing touch with little piglets at the end. They are so cute.

    • Nita Mar 24 at 4:28 am Reply

      True, Tara! It’s such a big world out there with so much to see, do and learn. And those cute piglets were just napping so peacefully :)

  4. Ron | Active Planet Travels Mar 27 at 10:18 am Reply

    I remember finding one of those birds in Laos while on my way to the Vietnam Embassy. I was like “Who the heck keeps laughing at me?” and found out all along it was one of those silly things! lol Seems like you had a great time in Vietnam; I found that some of the friendliest people I ran into while traveling through Asia was there. :-)

    • Nita Mar 27 at 2:07 pm Reply

      Haha..That’s so funny! It does seem to take a while to see who’s laughing 😀 And yes, I sensed the friendliness of the locals there too. Thanks for dropping by, Ron!

  5. The Travel Junkie Mar 31 at 8:51 pm Reply

    Aaaah I miss Vietnam so much!

    • Nita Apr 1 at 4:24 am Reply

      Hope you get to return there soon! Thank you for reading :)

  6. Debbie Jun 27 at 2:48 pm Reply

    Beautiful photos! i hope I can visit one day!!
    Greetings from Greece

    • Nita Jun 27 at 5:36 pm Reply

      Hello from Thailand Debbie! Many thanks :) I hope you get to visit soon too!

  7. Katie Featherstone Sep 1 at 12:17 pm Reply

    It looks a lot prettiest and less mental than Ho Chi Min. Good choice!

    • Nita Sep 1 at 7:06 pm Reply

      Hehe.. I’ve heard that about Ho Chi Minh too 😉 Thanks Katie!

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