Homestay is a form of tourism that allows visitors to rent a room from a local family to learn more about the local lifestyle as well as improve language ability and enjoy a cultural exchange.
Coming to the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, tourists should try to experience a homestay service to learn about daily life such as garden farming, fruit tree growing, fishing and producing cacao in My Khanh Commune, Phong Dien District.
Tourists pass a bamboo bridge in My Khanh Commune, Can Tho City
We were picked up at Ninh Kieu Wharf by a tac rang – a wooden boat which can surf on the river and squeeze into small canals.
The tac rang ride took us along the Can Tho River over Cai Rang Floating Market and Ong De Canal to reach Mr. Muoi Cuong's home – the first homestay venue in our journey. We toured on the flooding season so the canal was abundant with water which made the countryside scenery more peaceful with ever green coconut lines and orchards.
The homestay area of Muoi Cuong was very spacious and airy with many houses together with a striking front large yard with colorful flowers and ornamental trees.
After a warm welcome from his three-generational family, Cuong took us to our rooms equipped with air conditioning thankfully.
After taking a short rest, we followed the family to the farm to take care of cacao trees and harvest ripe fruits which are very sweet and sour and can be served with ice.
We were taught the process of producing cacao without breaking the fruit to take the seeds, keeping seeds on banana leaves, drying under the sunlight for a couple of days, frying them on a grill, peeling off their husk, grinding them into flour. The chocolate is handmade but really good.
With the sunset about to come over the farm, we came back home and joined in the production of Southern spring rolls made of rice paper cake with stuffing of shrimp, pork and potatoes. That was not enough for dinner so we had to go fishing and picked some vegetables in the garden. The interesting thing was that we didn't cook on the electric stove but on firewood and we had to keep an eye on it at all times.
We had dinner with the family, with much laughter and a cozy atmosphere as if it was our real family. While eating, we together talked about farming and local customs.
Early the next morning, we walked deeper into the village on winding trails and enjoyed the fresh and peaceful surroundings.
We hired bicycles and rode along Ong De Canal through orchards and bridges. On the way we saw bananas, pomelos, mangos, papayas and pineapples on sale so we stopped by to try some for a vitamin rush as well as to taste the local specialties.
Our journey continued in Hai Robert's garden where he makes wine from spondias. We started to explore his wine cellar where he has dozens of wine barrels with hundreds of liters. He makes wine in the traditional craft method and is also an experienced carpenter.
The next destination was Miss Mai's who makes soy juice, tofu and cake. We again had a chance to witness her demonstrating how to bake cakes and enjoy them.
The next homestay area was Ba Xinh house by a bamboo bridge. The living room is not too big but contains the custom of Southern people with ancestor's alters, memorial pictures and decorations. The guest rooms were equipped with air conditioning, wardrobe, a small table set and many images of delta landscapes.
After a long day, we feasted on a very rustic but fabulous dinner with delta specialties chum ngay vegetable (moringa oleiferay), grilled dieu hong fish and fried bitter melon with eggs. In the dark, we heard whispers and buzzes of many kinds of insects and frogs. We were suggested to go to the field to catch frogs with a flashlight to have some food and of course frogs taste surprise. It was an amazing memory that I will never forget.
The next morning, we continued our education on growing rice, making bamboo baskets and the Oc Eo culture.
The homestay trip ended in extreme happiness and relaxation, with stresses and worries of city life left behind but we were on our way back buoyed. We said goodbye and swore to come back again and when the flooding season returns.
Prices are US$30 for a couple for one night in an air-conditioned room and US$20 for a room with an electric fan. Bicycles can be hired for US$5 a day.
Some suggested addresses for homestay tourism in Can Tho are Ba Xinh Homestay at 303, Rach Sau Street, My Khanh Commune, Phong Dien District, tel: 0710 3845511, and Homestay The Cuong at 275 My Ai Hamlet, My Khanh Commune, tel: 0710 3942 573.
Tourists cook at a homestay in My Khanh Commune
Tourists swim in a river during their homestay trip - Photos: Lam Van Son
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