A true southern taste on Dai Islet

In Vinh Long Province, we head to Vung Liem District and take a ferry at Vung Liem-Thanh Binh ferry terminal to cross the Co Chien River to reach Dai Islet within 15 minutes.

Those who want to learn more about the waterway can take a boat ride which lasts one hour and costs VND20,000 (less than US$1) per person. However, currently, there is only one boat ride a day because most boats are used for transporting fruits from gardens to other places for sale.

Phung Hieu, a local man and also our tour guide, told us an interesting story about the name of the islet. “Dai” is actually a southern pronunciation of “Giay,” which means shoe. The islet looks like a shoe, so local people call it “Dai”.

The islet is around 20 kilometers long and covers an alluvial area of 4,000 hectares, dividing the Tien River which runs through Vinh Long into two branches: Co Chien and Bang Tra.

Welcoming us to the islet is a local man named Dien, who took us for a visit to a green grapefruit garden, a major fruit of the islet which only stands behind durian.

“Farmers have created a new green grapefruit breed which can produce fruits all year round. Green grapefruit costs VND30,000-VND40,000 per kilo at garden,” Dien told us.

Green grapefruit from Dai Islet can be found at stalls along the way from Vinh Long to HCMC, and is exported to some nearby countries.

Thanks to alluvial soil, local people here mostly earn a living by growing various types of fruit trees including rambutan, mango, mangosteen, and langsat.

Leaving the grapefruit garden, we were taken to the durian garden nearby and invited to taste the fruit on the spot. The kind garden owner also offered us free jackfruit.

After that, we visited Vuon Dua (coconut garden) restaurant to enjoy southern food. At Vuon Dua, banh xeo is filled with mussels instead of shrimp and pork as we usually see in HCMC. Mussels were fresh and delicious as they were caught at the islet.

Along with the fragrant and greasy pancake, we also tasted other signature dishes of the southern land such as apple snail grilled with fish sauce and pepper and sour soup.

Tourism has not developed on Dai Islet, so everything here is kept simple and genuine while locals are kindhearted and friendly, making visitors feel peaceful and want to return.

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